The New Student's Reference Work/Romanoff, The House of
Romanoff (rṓ-mä′ nṓf), The House of, has furnished the sovereigns of Russia since the beginning of the seventeenth century. Rurik, the chief of the Varangians or Rus, laid the foundation of the Russian empire, and he and his family reigned over it for more than seven centuries. Feodor, the last descendant of the Rurik dynasty, dying childless in 1594, the government fell a prey to many adventurers. The legitimate heir to the throne, Dimitri, of the Rurik dynasty, was assassinated, and no less than four impostors arose, claiming to be the dead Dimitri. Conflicts between aspirants for the crown continued until 1613, when a large number of nobles offered the throne to the king of Poland. A sentiment was aroused against this, and the Russian army drove the Poles from Moscow. They then determined to elect a czar. A council, composed of nobles, clergy and burgesses assembled in Lent of 1613. After several days of strong debate the choice fell to Michael Romanoff, a member of a distinguished though not royal Prussian family in Moscow. He was crowned in April of the same year and reigned for 32 years. His successors in the male line ruled until the death of Peter II in 1730, when the succession reverted to the female line. Another change took place with the death of Elizabeth in 1762, when her nephew, the son of the Duke of Hoistein-Gottorp, a branch of the House of Oldenburg, succeeded to the throne with the title of Peter III, thus founding the House of Romanoff-Oldenburg to which the present reigning family belongs. Frequent intermarriages with German princely families have, however, made the strain far more German than Russian.