Dimitry-in-Blood Church


Murder or Accident?

I love the name of this Russian Orthodox Church on the water's edge in Uglich. It really does have a bloody history in that it was built to honor the son of Ivan the Terrible who died near this spot.

Little Prince Dimitry was only eight years old in 1591 when he was shipped off to Uglich for safe-keeping as an heir to his older brother who took the throne upon Ivan's death. Was his death an accident or a murder?

The murder theory has the boy's death at the hands of Boris Godunov, a relative who might have gotten rid of Dimitry to put himself next in line to the throne. Or, the accident theory that has Dimitry playing with a knife when he had a seizure and accidentally killed himself.

Historians do not agree on what happened and no one knows for sure. However, the place earned its bloody name in the aftermath. Dimitry's mother cried murder and a violent riot broke out in which fifteen of the supposed assassins were lynched, including one of Dimitry's playmates. An investigation followed and it was declared an accident, but when the political climate changed, his remains were moved to Moscow where he became a kind of cult figure whose members believed the murder story. The Russian Orthodox Church celebrates St. Pious Tsarevitch with feast days on October 19, May 15 and June 3rd. In modern day, the accidental death is more prominent but the feast days live on.

All I know is that the wooden church is lovely and the mystery adds to its lore.

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