Maria Temryukovna

Maria Temryukovna (Russian: Мари́я Темрюко́вна, Kabardian: Гуэщэней Идар Темрыкъуэ и пхъу, c. 1544 – 1 September 1569) was a Circassian Tsaritsa of the Tsardom of Russia and second spouse to Ivan the Terrible.

Maria Temryukovna
Tsaritsa of All Russia
Tenure21 August 1561 – 1 September 1569
Bornc. 1544
Died1 September 1569 (aged 25)
SpouseIvan IV of Russia
IssueTsarevich Vasili Ivanovich
FatherTemrjuk of Kabardia
ReligionOrthodox Christian
prev. Islam


Maria Temryukovna's seal ring

The daughter of Temryuk of Kabardia, Maria (originally named Qochenay bint Teymour (Кученей) before her baptism) was presented to Ivan in Moscow after the death of his first wife Anastasia Romanovna. Russian folklore tells of how Ivan's first wife, before dying, warned him not to take a pagan as a wife. Ivan was so smitten by Maria's beauty, that he decided to marry her immediately. On 21 August 1561, they married, four days before Ivan's 31st birthday. The marriage took place after the marriage negotiations between Ivan and Catherine Jagiellon stranded.

Ivan soon came to regret the decision to marry her, on account of his new wife being viewed as illiterate and vindictive. She never fully integrated to the Muscovite way of life, and was considered a poor stepmother to Ivan's two sons Ivan and Feodor. She gave birth to a son named Vasili, named after her father-in-law on 21 March 1563, though he died on 3 May that same year. Maria was generally hated by her subjects, who believed her to be manipulative and witch-like in her behaviour. Some historians [1] write that it was she who first incited her husband to form the oprichniki.

She died on 1 September 1569 at the age of 25. It was rumored that she had been poisoned by her own husband, but there is no historical evidence to such rumours. The Tsar also never admitted as such, and had many people tortured on suspicion of assassinating the Tsaritsa.

Appearances in modern mediaEdit

Tsar a 2009 Russian drama film directed by Pavel Lungin. Their story is described in the book ‘Der Leibarzt der Zarin’ by Heinz Konsalik. She also appears (as Marie) in George's Bizet's opera Ivan IV.


  1. ^ A. P. Pavlov and Maureen Perrie (August 2003). "Ivan the Terrible". Pearson Education. pp. 116–7.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  • Troyat, Henri Ivan le Terrible. Flammarion, Paris, 1982
  • de Madariaga, Isabel Ivan the Terrible. Giulio Einaudi editore, 2005
Russian royalty
Title last held by
Anastasia Romanovna
Tsaritsa of Russia
Title next held by
Marfa Sobakina