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The Annals of Ivan Timofeyev


Another writer of this period, the head of a central government department Ivan Timofeyev, depicts Russian history from Ivan the Terrible to Michael Romanov in his Annals,7 written in 1616-1619. By virtue of his office Ivan Timofeyev was constantly dealing with affairs of state. He had access to many important documents, which explains why the Annals contains much historical information not recorded by any other writer. Moreover, Timofeyev describes many events that he witnessed personally. When the people went to the Novodevichy Convent to ask Boris Godunov to accept the royal crown, he “had in his hands a cloth that he used to wipe off sweat … and he did wind this cloth around his neck, gesturing that he would hang himself if the petitioners did not cease their supplications”. Apart from this hypocritical gesture by Boris Godunov, Ivan Timofeyev noticed other interesting details charac­teristic of the atmosphere surrounding Boris’ “voluntary” election to the throne. A certain young boy, who had been so directed, climbed up to the window of Tsarina Irina’s cell and shouted right “in her ear”, begging her to bless her brother’s coronation. These are insignificant details, but their very insignificance is typical, for here Ivan Timofeyev reveals himself as a writer of memoirs, a private individual, and not an historian.