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Burials of the Great Dukes in the Archangel Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin
The first Archangel Cathedral was constructed on the order of Ivan Kalita in 1333. The great prince indicated his wish to be buried in the Archangel church in his will, thus determining its use as a Princely burial vault. He died in 1340.
By the beginning of the XVI the ancient cathedral had 23 burials. In 1505 Ivan III ordered to construct the Archangel cathedral that we have now. Coffins with remnants of his forefathers were temporarily moved to the church of John of the Ladder and were taken back after the construction works were finished in 1508. But before that Ivan III, who died in December, 1505 was buried in the cathedral.
Along the southern wall there are burials of great princes of Moscow, along the Western wall – the princes of smaller principalities, and along the Northern wall – the princes who were in disgrace and who got killed.
Totally there are 46 burials in the cathedral and 2 feretories with relics. The actual burials are in the cellar of the cathedral and on the floor of the cathedral there are tombs made of white stone and covered with glass and brass covers in 1913 for the 300th anniverasary of the Romanovs dynasty.
Next to the wall near the southern gate there is the grave of Ivan Kalita, in the next row more to the west – the grave of Dmitry Donskoy. Great ruler Ivan III, the constructor of the cathedral, is buried in front of the altar. Next to him are his father Vasily the Dark and his Vasily III.
Near the northern wall closer to the iconostasis there is the feretory with the relics of St. Michael Tchernigovski. Michael Tchernigovski died as a martyr in the Golden Horde at the hands of khan Batiy. He came to the Golden Horde for permission to rule, and being a Christian, refused to follow a humiliating pagan tradition of worshiping the idols and going through the fire. He was cruelly tortured and beheaded. It was in 1246. Michael Tchernigovski was canonized as a martyr for the Christian faith. In 1570s upon the order of Ivan the Terrible the prince's relics were moved from Tchernigov to Moscow and placed in a specially constructed cathedral known as cathedral of Tchernigov Miracleworkers. Wooden feretory was created in 1688 on the order of boyar Yakov Odoevsky. Odoevsky descended from princes Tchernigovsky. During the rule of Catherine II a new feretory was made, it was decorated with silver plaques. The plaques were stolen by the French in 1812. In 1817 the feretory was faced with silver plaques and gilded bronze. Since 1960s the feretory with the relics of St. Michael Tchernigovsky is kept in the altar.
Archangel Cathedral has 2 feretories of Michael Tchernigosvky. The one near the northern wall was created in 1688 on the order of Yakov Odoevsky, but the relics of the saint are kept in a feretory that was made later – in 1817, it was brought to the altar in the middle of ХХ century.
The burials in the cathedral were made between 1340 and 1668. The latest burial is that of Peter II that took place in 1730.