By: Herman Rosenthal
Second czar of the Romanof dynasty; born at Moscow, March 29, 1629; died February 9, 1676. He succeeded his father, Michael Fiodorovich, July 26, 1645. During his reign a considerable number of Jews lived in Moscow and the interior of Russia. In a work of travels, written at that time, but published later, and bearing the title, "Reise nach dem Norden" (Leipsic, 1706), the author states (p. 234) that, owing to the influence of a certain Stephan von Gaden, the czar's Jewish physician in ordinary, the number of Jews considerably increased in Moscow. The same information is contained in the work, "The Present State of Russia" (1658-66), by Samuel Collins, who was also a physician at the court of the czar.
From the edicts issued by Alexis Mikhailovich, it appears that the czar often granted the Jews passports with red seals (gosudarevy zhalovannyya gramoty), without which no foreigners could be admitted to the interior; and that they traveled without restriction to Moscow, dealing in cloth and jewelry, and even received from his court commissions to procure various articles of merchandise. Thus, in 1672, the Jewish merchants Samuel Jakovlev and his companions were commissioned at Moscow to go abroad and buy Hungarian wine. Again an edict, issued March 17, 1654, instructed a party of Lithuanian Jews to proceed from Kaluga to Nijni-Novgorod, and as a protection they received an escort of twenty sharpshooters ("Polnoe Sobranie Zakonov"—Russian Code—I. No. 148).
Alexis Mikhailovich afterward expelled the Jews from the newly acquired Lithuanian and Polish cities; from Mohilev in 1654; Wilna, 1658; and Kiev in 1660. But this may be ascribed to the desire of the government to conciliate the Christian merchants of that territory. It was not long after the horrible massacre of the Lithuanian Jews by Chmelnicki (1648-49), that the propaganda of Shabbethai Ẓebi—which spread through the south and southwest of the Lithuanian-Polish kingdom—had probably also converted many members of the Greek Orthodox Church. This induced the Little-Russian monk Joanniki Golyatovski to write his book, "Messiya Pravedny" (Messiah, the All-righteous), which is replete with all kinds of accusations against the Jews. So in 1671, the patriarch Nikon, in a letter to Alexis Mikhailovich, complains of the monks among the converted Jews of the Voskresenski monastery, saying that they "again began to foster the old Jewish faith," as well as to demoralize the young friars.
The fact is mentioned in the work of the English Ambassador Carlisle, that under Alexis Mikhailovich, Catholics and Jews were driven from Russia. An edict issued March 19, 1655, refers to the Lithuanian-Jewish prisoners of war, who were to be sent to Kaluga by the boyar Prince Alexis Trubetzkoi. These aggregated 108 families, 3 widows, and 21 single men; and in addition there were 92 Jews to be sent from Bryansk to Kaluga by Prince Volkonski ("Regesty i Nadpisi," No. 957). By the treaty of Andrussev arranged with John Casimir of Poland by Alexis Mikhailovich in 1667, the Jews, who then lived in the towns and districts that became Russian territory, were permitted to remain "on the side of the Russian czar," under Russian rule, if they did not choose to remain under Polish rule ("Regesty i Nadpisi," No. 1055). Jewish wives of Greek Orthodox Russians were permitted to remain with their husbands without being forced to change their religion. Altogether, taking into consideration the hatred of foreigners among the Russian population of his time, it is evident that Alexis Mikhailovich was kindly disposed toward the Jews.
- Kostomarov, Russkaya Istoriya v Zhizneopisaniyakh eya Glavneishikh Dyeyatelei, ii. 97-222, 357-379, St. Petersburg, 1895;
- Solovyev, Istoriya Rossii, 2d ed., vols. xi-xiii., St. Petersburg;
- Regesty i Nadpisi, St. Petersburg, 1899;
- J. Berchin, Istoricheskaya Zamyetka, in Vos. 1883, Nos. 5-6, pp. 250-254;
- N. Gradovski, Otnosheniya k Yevreyam, etc., St. Petersburg, 1891.