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Mikhail (or Michael) Romanov was the first of the Romanov dynasty of Russian tsars. He was elected tsar in 1613, at the age of seventeen, at the end of the Time of Troubles when the Russians had managed to expel the Polish and their tsar-candidate Wladislav from Russian territory. The line of Russian tsars supposedly descended from Rurik had died out in 1598 with Fyodor I, and a council of nobles needed to elect a new tsar. The Romanovs were the family of Ivan the Terrible's first wife, so they had some connection to royalty. They had been enemies of former ruler Boris Gudenov, who had forced Mikhail's father to become a monk and exiled five others of the family, including Mikhail, from Russia; but Boris was eventually unpopular enough with the nobles that the Romanovs did not suffer for having opposed him. Mikhail's father being ineligible because of his religious vows, Mikhail was chosen.

When Mikhail found that he had been elected tsar, he refused the position at first (and as far as historians can tell was completely serious about the refusal; he feared for the safety of family members still in Poland and was not really ambitious anyway). He was eventually persuaded to take the position by an appeal to his patriotism and desire to keep the country from further civil war.

His mother, who had become a nun, and later his father (after escaping Poland and being elevated to Patriarch, the highest position in the Russian Orthodox Church) were the powers behind the throne. After they died, Mikhail still surrounded himself with good advisors, but managed to lose previously-Russian controlled territories such as the city of Smolensk. Mikhail died in 1645 and was succeeded by his sixteen-year-old son Alexei.

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