Vasiliy II was a member of the Shuisky family of Russian nobles. The family were enemies of Boris Gudenov, who claimed the throne of Russia after the death of the last member of the previous royal family, Fyodor I. Vasiliy was banished from the country when his family worked to cause a riot in Moscow in 1586, but was able to return within four years and became a military commander and a member of the boyar (noble) council. He stayed out of the struggles of his cousins against Boris Gudenov, and at first supported Boris's son Fyodor II as the legitimate tsar against False Dmitry I (not surprising, as Vasiliy had been one of the investigators of the death of the real Dmitry in 1591). However, Vasiliy changed his allegiance for a while when False Dmitry gained power.

However, Vasiliy was working behind the new tsar's back, and was discovered and banished for a few months. When he returned to Moscow, he continued to plot against False Dmitry, and in May 1606, his forces broke into the Kremlin and murdered False Dmitry. Shortly thereafter, the Shuisky supporters proclaimed Vasiliy to be the new tsar.

Unfortunately, Russia was in too much chaos for the title to carry real power. A peasant army led by Ivan Bolotnikov rebelled in the south, and then a second False Dmitry, also originally supported by the Polish, popped up. Both the mother of the real Dmitry and the widow of False Dmitry I said that this new pretender was the real Dmitry. It took until 1609 and the help of Swedish troops to supress the peasant uprisings. Then the Polish sent in more troops, and Vasiliy was forced to abdicate in 1610 by the Russians, who accepted the Polish offer of peace with a new tsar -- the son of the Polish king! Tsar Wladislav took office, crushed False Dmitry II, and took Vasiliy and his brothers to Poland where they died.

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