Polish Soldiers Surrender to Prince Pozharsky
This illustrates one of the most pivotal episodes in Russian history. The Poles invaded Russia during the Smuta (Time of Troubles) after the death of Tsar Boris Gudunov. They attempted to place a Catholic Pole on the Russian throne and wanted to ram the Unia down the throats of the Russian people, to make them submit to the Pope of Rome. Quite obviously, this led to a Russian national awakening. The opolchenie (militia) came to arms under the leadership of the boyar Dmitri Pozharsky and the butcher Kuzma Minin. The Poles, after hard fighting and a long siege, were defeated, and Russia and Orthodoxy were preserved from destruction. Any time you hear a Pole downing Russia, remember, they started the fight, we finished it. They attempted to force their religion upon us, and we not only rejected them, we threw them out. There’s a reason for their hatred… they attempted to murder us as a people and we foiled them. Sic semper tyrannis!
Tsar Mikhail Fyodorovich (1596-1645) was the first ruler of the Romanov dynasty, and he reigned from 1613 to his death in 1645. The beginning of his reign is commonly considered the end of the Smuta, the “Time of Troubles”. He was a gentle, good, pious, and wise ruler. His disposition to peace gave the country the time to recover after the depredations and rapine caused by the Polish invasion. His reign is a classic illustration of “happy is the land that has no history”. The House of Romanov was to rule until it was betrayed by Westernised intellectuals and nobles in 1917, and this so-called “February Revolution” was to enable the later Bolshevik putsch in October. Therefore, if one’s to view it correctly, Kerensky and the Provisional Government were ultimately responsible for the deaths of the Royal Martyrs at Yekaterinburg on 17 July 1918. Had they not arrested the tsar and his family, there was every chance they could’ve survived. This makes Aleksandr Kerensky more of a regicide than Lenin or Yurovsky. The Church was correct to have refused him burial in consecrated ground. He was the one most to blame for the spilling of innocent blood in Russia. Those who prepare the ground for killers are worse than the killers themselves, for their actions allow others to “think the unthinkable”. That’s why so many in the so-called “Paris Emigration” were so reprehensible. They either were those who by laying hands on the anointed tsar were regicides themselves, or they approved of such, or they were their children who carried on their parents’ secularist legacy. Not all White Guards were conservatives and traditionalists; not all those who fled the Reds were monarchists. Indeed, many were secular humanists of the worst sort. That’s why we have had so much turmoil in the Church in the Russian diaspora. We’ll only have peace in the diaspora when we finally destroy the poisonous legacy of the Kerenskyites and the Mensheviki. God willing, that’s coming soon.
Kuzma Minin is one of the major figures in the successful Russian repulse of the Polish Catholic aggressors in the 17th century. He, along with the boyar Prince Dmitri Pozharsky, led the opolchenie, the people’s army that drove the Poles from Moscow. The Poles wished to impose on Russia the unia that they had rammed down the throats of their Little Russian subjects… that is, they tried to, at least! The bravery of the Little Russian people under Polish oppression is a bright page in Russian history. They formed lay brotherhoods when their clergy treacherously accepted the Unia. So, they sent for priests from Russia, they printed Orthodox books, they composed popular religious songs to combat the Jesuits, and they gave allegiance to the Orthodox tsar when they could. Today, there isn’t any Uniatism in the Ukrainian lands of the old empire, except for that exported by unrepresentative semi-Polish Galicians. There’s an ironic footnote to all this. The Uniates adopted the Orthodox spiritual songs in an effort to deceive the credulous. If they and their hierarchies were honest, they wouldn’t do so, for the songs were written as a part of the successful Orthodox effort to oppose papist hegemony. To return to Kuzma Minin, he’s one of the pivotal figures in Russian history, for he’s one of those who helped to forge the Great Russian character we see today. If it weren’t for the courage of Minin and Pozharsky, we’d have no Orthodox faith to practise today. Let that sink in… if it weren’t for these two men and the brave warriors they led, we’d have no Orthodox faith to practise today. That’s why the Optina fathers of today teach that it’s a binding spiritual obligation for all Orthodox Christians to serve the motherland. Hmm… there appears to be a difference between what the Optina fathers teach and what some in the Orthodox Peace Fellowship advocate… I know which one of the two I support! What about you?
This painting rounds out the cycle of military-themed works in honour of Veterans Day. It portrays the two leaders of the Russian national resistance to the Polish invasion of the early seventeenth century. Kuzma Minin (on the right) was a butcher of Novgorod (some sources say he was a blacksmith), whilst Dmitri Pozharsky (on the left) was a boyar. This happened in the context of a period of Russian history known as the Smuta (“Troubles”, in English, the era is known as “The Time of Troubles“). The Rurikid dynasty died out, causing great instability in Russia. The Polish Rzeczpospolita (not only present-day Poland, but also Lithuania, Byelorussia, the Ukraine west of the Dnepr, and parts of western Russia near Smolensk) saw these disturbances as a chance to gain territory at Russia’s expense and to impose Catholicism in place of Orthodoxy. The “Counter-Reformation” in the Rzeczpospolita was particularly virulent (especially in the reign of King Sigismund III), and it destroyed the religious tolerance that was once widespread in Poland. On 9 October 1596, the notorious “Union of Brest” was forced upon Metropolitan Vasyl Terlecky. The unrest over this in Kiev was so fierce and vehement that the Uniate metropolitan was forced to flee to Vilna. This religious aggrandisement was part of a complicated series of wars and manoeuvres between the Polish and Russian states.
There were Polish invasions in 1605 and 1607, but the main conflict erupted in 1609. Polish forces entered Russia and marched into Moscow in August 1610, placing Władysław, the son of King Sigismund, on the throne. However, they could not take the St Sergius-Holy Trinity Lavra, which put up a heroic resistance from September 1609 to January 1611. The monks took an active role in the fighting, and the monastery didn’t fall to the Catholic invader. The Poles seized Patriarch Germogen, and when he refused to embrace Catholicism, they starved him to death. At this time, Minin and Pozharsky were called to lead the opolchenie, which was the host raised to drive the Poles out of Moscow and restore the throne to Orthodox hands. The Russian host besieged Moscow, whilst the Cossacks drove off Polish relief forces. On 1 November 1612, the Russian host forced the surrender of the Polish garrison in Moscow, after a long siege that lasted over a year. On 21 February 1613, the Zemsky Sobor (Assembly of the Land) elected the 17-year-old Mikhail Fyodorovich Romanov tsar at the Ipatiev Monastery in Kostroma (it’s interesting to note that the last ruling Romanovswere murdered in the Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg in 1918). The Romanov dynasty ruled Russia until its fall in the Revolution of 1917.
A contemporary parade on the Day of National Unity
The epic movie 1612 in five parts, with English subtitles… good stuff…
A new national holiday, the Day of National Unity, was first celebrated in Russia on 4 November 2005 to commemorate how all classes of society combined to defend faith and motherland. Actually, it was a revival of an old Tsarist holiday abolished by the Sovs. An epic movie, 1612, was released on the theme of the war to defend Orthodoxy and Russia. You can’t underestimate this episode, for it, along with the Battle of Kulikovo in the fourteenth century laid the foundations for the Russian national identity. Besides this, the courage of Minin and Pozharsky ensured that we would have an Orthodox faith to practise. If it weren’t for the defeat of the Poles, we wouldn’t be Orthodox today. We’d be Uniates on the Ukrainian model, at best. At worst, the Poles would’ve destroyed our ritual as well. This was shown by their brutal imposition of the Unia in all their territories. Look at the Ukrainian Uniates today! Mostly, they can’t have married clergy; they must follow the Roman line in everything. The brave leadership of Minin and Pozharsky saved us from that. I must note that the Rzeczpospolita declined after it started to oppress its Orthodox inhabitants. In the eighteenth century, it was so weak that Austria, Prussia, and Russia partitioned its territory amongst themselves. Poland did not arise again until 1918, in a much shrunken form, centred on the Polish ethnographic territory.
These men saved our faith, and we owe their memory an inestimable debt of gratitude. If they had been pacifists, our faith would’ve been trampled into the mud. The martyrdom of Patriarch St Germogen shows that abundantly (nevertheless, one should never be disagreeable or nasty to current Uniates. They aren’t responsible for the past, nor are they responsible for the kowtowing of their hierarchies to Rome). Be wary of all single-cause groups in the church, but be especially wary of those who parrot fashionable shibboleths (both rightwing and leftist) to curry favour with the heterodox. We deserve better.