Wladislav (or Vladislaw, or Ladislaus) was the son of King Sigismund III of Poland. During the "Time of Troubles" in Russian history, when the old royal family had died out with Fyodor I in 1598 and years of different claimants to the throne led to eventual civil war in Russia, Poland had sent in troops to support the candidates it favored (those who would give border territory back to Poland and promote the Catholic religion instead of the Russian Orthodox Church). By 1610, when Vasiliy IV of Russia had just put down a peasant rebellion and was still fighting a man who claimed to be Ivan the Terrible's dead-since-1591 son Dmitry, the Polish forces no longer supported a Russian candidate for tsar, but simply occupied western Russia. Sigismund had originally wanted to simply rule the territory himself, but a compromise was reached with Russian nobles when the Poles threatened Moscow; Vasiliy would be deposed and Sigismund's son would be the new ruler.

Wladislav and a Polish army set themselves up in Moscow as having authority over the country, but in practice this was never true. Russia was essentially in anarchy. The Poles had more authority than anyone, but not by much, and the Russians eventually became fed up with the Polish soldiers, especially when top religious official Patriarch Hermogen was captured by Poles and died of starvation rather than tell the Russians to stop their resistance. A Nizhni Novgorod butcher, Kuzma Minin, offered his property to support a Russian army, and others followed, as well as free peasants from the north and northeast of Moscow. Cossacks from the south joined also, and in 1612 after a siege of the Kremlin where the Polish had barricaded themselves, the Russians took Moscow and expelled Wladislav. Mikhail Romanov was elected tsar; Wladislav returned to Poland and in 1632 became king on his father's death. He died in 1648.

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