Matvyeev, Artamon Serqyeevich
MATVYEEV, ARTAMON SERQYEEVICH ( -1682), Russian statesman and reformer, was one of the greatest of the precursors of Peter the Great. His parentage and the date of his birth are uncertain. Apparently his birth was humble, but when the obscure figure of the young Artamon emerges into the light of history we find him equipped at all points with the newest ideas, absolutely free from the worst prejudices of his age, a ripe scholar, and even an author of some distinction. In 1671 the tsar Alexius and Artamon were already on intimate terms, and on the retirement of Orduin-Nashchokin Matvyeev became the tsar's chief counsellor. It was at his house, full of all the wondrous, half-forbidden novelties of the west, that Alexius, after the death of his first consort, Martha, met Matvyeev's favourite pupil, the beautiful Natalia Naruishkina, whom he married on the 21st of January 1672. At the end of the year Matvyeev was raised to the rank of okolnichy, and on the 1st of September 1674 attained the still higher dignity of boyar. Matvyeev remained paramount to the end of the reign and introduced play-acting and all sorts of refining western novelties into Muscovy. The deplorable physical condition of Alexius's immediate successor, Theodore III. suggested to Matvyeev the desirability of elevating to the throne the sturdy little tsarevich Peter, then in his fourth year. He purchased the allegiance of the stryeltsi, or musketeers, and then, summoning the boyars of the council, earnestly represented to them that Theodore, scarce able to live, was surely unable to reign, and urged the substitution of little Peter. But the reactionary boyars, among whom were the near kinsmen of Theodore, proclaimed him tsar and Matvyeev was banished to Pustozersk, in northern Russia, where he remained till Theodore's death (April 27, 1682). Immediately afterwards Peter was proclaimed, tsar by the patriarch, and the first ukaz issued in Peter's name summoned Matvyeev to return to the capital and act as chief adviser to the tsaritsa Natalia. He reached Moscow on the 15th of May, prepared " to lay down his life for the tsar," and at once proceeded to the head of the Red Staircase to meet and argue with the assembled stryeltsi, who had been instigated to rebel by the anti-Petrine faction. He had already succeeded in partially pacifying them, when one of their colonels began to abuse the still hesitating and suspicious musketeers. Infuriated, they seized and flung Matvyeev into the square below, where he was hacked to pieces by their comrades.
See R. Nisbet Bam, The First Romanovs (London, 1905); M. P. Pogodin, The First Seventeen Years of the Life of Peter the Great (Rus.), (Moscow, 1875);S. M.Solovev, History of Russia (Rus.), (vols. 12, 13, (St Petersburg, 1895, etc.) ; L. Shchepotev, A.S. Matvyeev as an Educational and Political Reformer (Rus.), (St Petersburg, 1906). (R. N. B.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)