Fyodor III was the son of Tsar Alexei of Russia and came to the throne at the age of fifteen when his father died in 1676. Fyodor was nearly crippled and had to be carried during his own coronation; however, he was very well-educated for a Russian of the time and had shared lessons with his sister Sophia. His mother's family, the Miloslavskys, used their young relative as an entry to power and ousted the Naryshkins, the family of Fyodor's stepmother, exiling many of them and trying to get Artemon Matveev, a great friend of the Naryshkins and former minister under Alexei, condemned to death for witchcraft. Fyodor refused to sign the sentence, though.

Fyodor, like his father, was mild-mannered and pious and supported the power of the church in Russia. He did, however, anger many of the nobles by abolishing the system of precedence within the nobility, which said that a noble could only accept a government position appropriate to their rank. This system had made it terribly difficult to put capable people in positions of power, because anyone of higher rank would refuse to serve under them. The Patriarch of the Orthodox Church supported him and the reform was pushed through in 1682, including the forced burning of many family records that had been used to support families' claims to rank.

However, Fyodor had no children, even though he had married twice, and many nobles expected that his younger brother Ivan or his half-brother Peter might be their hope to restore the old ways. When Fyodor died later in 1682, the two possible successors were a weak, nearly blind sixteen-year-old (Ivan) and his Miloslavsky relatives, or a healthy ten-year-old (Peter) and his Naryshkin relatives.

Sources: Robert K. Massie's Peter the Great: His Life and World in addition to those listed under Monarchs of Russia.

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