History of Murom

9th Century

First Mention

Murom was first mentioned in the Primary Chronicle in 862 making it one of the oldest cities in Russia.  Under this year Murom is mentioned as being ruled by Ryurik and the Varagians but was originally a city of the Finno-Ugric Muromian tribe, although it is not quite clear whether the people are named after the city, or the city after the people. One theory however is that Murom means something along the lines of 'city on highlands by water'.

11th Century

Prince Gleb of Murom

In approximately 1013, Grand Prince Vladimir the Great of Kiev installed his son Gleb as the first prince of Murom.  In 1015 Vladimir the Great died and Gleb's half-brother Svyatopolk seized the throne and also murdered Gleb's brother - Prince Boris of Rostov.  Meanwhile Svyatopolk had sent word to Gleb in Murom, telling him that their father was dying and that Gleb should come to Kiev to see him one last time.  While on route to Kiev, Gleb learned the truth that his father was dead and that his brother had been murdered by Svyatopolk.   As Gleb prayed for his father and murdered brother, men sent by Svyatopolk burst into his camp and Gleb was assassinated by his own cook.  Boris and Gleb were both later canonised as the first native Russian saints for meeting their deaths in a Christian manner, whereas Svyatopolk went down in history as Syatopolk the Accursed.

Murom War

In 1096 Murom became caught up in the battles between Oleg Svyatoslavich and Vladimir Monomakh.  Earlier in the year Vladimir Monomakh led a Kievan army to recapture Chernigov which Oleg had seized with the help of the Polovtsians.  Oleg though was able to escape and he joined his brothers Davyd in Smolensk.  The two Svyatoslavichy brothers then marched on Murom, which was part of the Chernigov Principality but had been captured by Vladimir Monomakh's son Izyaslav.  In the subsequent battle Izyaslav was killed and the Svyatoslavichy brother went on to capture Murom, and then Suzdal and Rostov, part of Monomakh's Pereyaslavl Principality. The war was only ended when another of Monomakh's son - Prince Mstislav of Novgorod (later Grand Prince Mstislav the Great) - forced the Svyatoslavichy out of the Pereyaslavl Principality back to Murom.

At this point Monomakh agreed to peace talks and the Congress of Lyubech was held in the following year.   The congress granted the Chernigov Principality to the Svyatoslavichy brothers and the youngest brother - Yaroslav Svyatoslavich - was sent to rule Murom.  Yaroslav remained in Murom until 1123 when he himself became prince of Chernigov on the death of his elder brothers.

12th Century

Murom Principality

In 1127 Prince Yaroslav Svyatoslavich of Chernigov was ousted by his nephew Vsevolod Olgovich, the son of the late Prince Oleg Svyatoslavich of Chernigov.  Yaroslav returned to his old city of Murom and thereby founded the Murom Principality.  Yaroslav, who is often also known by his baptismal name of Konstantin, is credited with bringing Christianity to Murom lands.  According to Yaroslav-Konstantin's hagiography, Yaroslav sent his son Mikhail to Murom's pagans on a mission to convert them, but was instead murdered by them.  Later the pagans went to Yaroslav intent on murder, but when Yaroslav came out holding an icon he had brought with him from Kiev the mob had a miraculous change of heart and even agreed to accept Christianity.  The icon subsequently became known as the Our Lady of Murom Icon.  Yaroslav died in Murom in 1129 and along with his sons was later canonised in 1547 as St Prince Constantine (Konstantin), Michael (Mikhail) and Feodor (Fyodor) of Murom.

Division of the Murom Principality

Upon the death of Yaroslav the Murom Principality was separated between Yaroslav's three sons:  Yuri (who is often identified as Fyodor) received Murom, Svyatoslav - Ryazan and Rostislav - Pronsk.  Yuri died in 1143 and was succeeded by Svyatoslav, who in turn was replaced by Rostislav, with Pronsk being inherited by Svyatoslav's son Vladimir.  Svyatoslav then died in 1145 and it was the turn of Rostislav to be prince of Murom.

Rostislav became involved in the Internecine War of 1146-1154, siding against Prince Yuri Dolgoruky of Rostov-Suzdal.  A raid into Rostov-Suzdal lands by Rostislav was avenged by Dolgoruky's sons Rostislav and Andrey besieging Ryazan.  Rostislav of Murom and his son Prince Gleb Rostislavich of Ryazan (who was made prince of Ryazan in violation of the succession rules) fled their lands in 1147 and Vladimir Svyatoslavich (Rostislav's nephew) became prince of Murom.  Rostislav though was able to reinstall himself as prince of Murom in 1149 and reigned there until his death in 1153.  With Rostislav gone, Vladimir Svyatoslavich was able to recapture Murom and Ryazan and unite the principalities declaring himself grand prince of Ryazan.  Vladimir Svyatoslavich died in 1162 and was succeeded as grand prince of Ryazan by Gleb Rostislavich, although the Murom Principality broke away with Vladimir Svyatoslavich's son Yuri Vladimirovich become prince there.

Separate Murom Principality

Prince Yuri Vladimirovich of Murom became a firm ally of Grand Prince Andrey Bogolyubsky of Vladimir and took part in Vladimir's campaigns against the Volga Bulgars and other Russian principalities.   Yuri died in 1176 and was succeeded by his son Vladimir Yurievich.  Like his father Vladimir also allied himself with the Vladimir Grand Principality, which was then ruled by Grand Prince Vsevolod the Big Nest.  Yuri even allied with Vsevolod the Big Nest against Ryazan in 1186.

13th Century

St Elijah of the Caves & Ilia Muromets

In 1204 a monk called Ilia who was originally from Murom died at the Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra in Kiev.  Before he was tonsured Ilia was known as Chobotok and was said to be a great warrior and it is though that this Ilia was the prototype for a legendary Russian knight called Ilia Muromets who features in many folk stories.  According to the tales, Muromets was born in Murom and spent most of his life confined to his bed due to a serious illness.  When he was 33 he was visited by a mystic who gave him superhuman strength.  From this moment onwards Ilya used his new-found physical prowess to defend Russia and its people.  The monk Ilia was canonised in 1643 by the Orthodox Church as St Elijah of the Caves (Ilia Pechersky).  When his remains were examined in 1988 it was determined that he must have been a strong man and that he had many battle wounds and even signs of a spinal illness.

Ss Peter and Fevronia of Murom

Prince Vladimir Yurievich of Murom died in approximately 1205 and was succeeded by his brother Davyd Yurievich.  Davyd was also an ally of Vsevolod the Big Nest and then his sons.  Davyd and his wife Fevronia have been identified as Ss Peter (Pyotr) and Fevronia.  According to legend, feeling that he was nearing the end of his life, Davyd become a monk and adopted the name Peter.  His wife Fevronia did the same and became a nun.  Shortly afterwards the couple passed away on the very same day in 1228.  A few days later their son Svyatoslav also died.  The couple were canonised in 1547 and have become the Russian patron saints of the family and marriage.

Mongol-Tatar Invasion

Yuri Davydovich succeeded his father as prince of Murom in 1228 and had the unfortunate fate of being prince during the Mongol-Tatar Invasion.  Yuri was a seasoned warrior, having taken part in campaigns against the Mordvins in 1229 and 1232, and so he came to the aid of Ryazan when the Mongol-Tatars entered the principality in the autumn of 1237.  Yuri was killed along with the Ryazan army.  Yuri was succeeded by his son Yaroslav Yurievich.  The Mongol-Tatars eventually reached Murom in 1239 when they sacked the city and its surrounding lands.  The last mention of Yaroslav Yurievich came in 1248 when his daughter married a prince of Rostov.

14th and 15th Centuries

Incorporation into Moscow

After the Mongol-Tatar Invasion there is no information on Murom or its princes until around 1351 when a certain Prince Yuri Yaroslavich is mentioned as reviving his patrimony of Murom, suggesting he is in some way descended from the previous Murom princes.  In approximately 1392 Grand Prince Vasili I of Moscow managed to buy the yarlyk to rule the Murom Principality, thereby incorporating it into the Moscow Grand Principality.  From this point onwards Murom lost its independence and became more and more a provincial city.

16th Century

Ivan the Terrible in Murom

In 1549 Tsar Ivan the Terrible (before he was that terrible) went on his first campaign to conquer the Kazan Khanate and en route passed through Murom.  The campaign was unsuccessful and in 1552 Ivan returned to Murom on another campaign.  He stayed in Murom for a week and whilst there prayed and made a pledge to build churches in Murom should he be victorious in his campaign.  On this attempt Kazan was conquered and Ivan fulfilled his pledge by ordering the construction of several churches in the city.  This included the Transfiguration of the Saviour Cathedral in the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery and Ss Cosmas and Damian's Church. Ivan also founded the Blagoveschensky Monastery in 1553.

17th Century

In 1616, during Russia's Time of Troubles, Murom was attached by the Polish-Lithuanian army led by Aleksander Lisowski.  Much of the city was damaged during the Troubles, including its monasteries, but it slowly recovered once peace and order had been restored.  In the remainder of the 17th century Murom became known as a centre for trade, associated with leatherworkers, boot makers, blacksmiths, jewellers and tailors.

18th Century

In 1708 Murom became part of the Moscow Governorate and in 1778 it became the centre of the Murom District within the Vladimir Viceroyalty (known as the Vladimir Governorate since 1796).   A general plan for the city was adopted by Catherine the Great in 1788.   A coat of arms was created for the city in 1781 which featured 'kalach' loaves of bread which are decorative in form (usually round or braided) and eaten at special occasions, such as weddings or when welcoming guests.  Kalach bread had been made in Murom for centuries and the city had become especially famed for it, hence the decision to include it on the coat of arms.

19th Century

In the 19th century Murom remained a provincial town with a large merchant population.  Destructive fires in 1792 and 1805 in Murom were followed by large-scale reconstruction work.  New buildings dating from 19th century included the trading rows and the city's famous water tower.  In 1880 work started on building a railway line from Moscow to Nizhny Novgorod and Kazan which passed through Murom. Work was completed in 1912 and involved the construction of a bridge over the River Oka and a railway station.

20th Century

Revolution and War

In 1918 Nikolai Sakharov, a member of the Union for the Protection of the Motherland and Freedom, headed an anti-Bolshevik uprising in Murom. However the lack of support for the uprising among the population doomed it to failure and its participants were forced to flee to Kazan.  The uprising was supported by the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery and as a consequence the monastery was shut down by the Bolsheviks shortly afterwards.  Many other monasteries and churches suffered the same fate, with their relics and icons being transferred to the Murom Historical and Art Museum which was founded in 1919

In 1929 Murom became part of the Nizhny Novgorod Region (known as the Gorky Region from 1936). Murom was never threatened by the Nazis during the Second World War, but the city did mobilise its citizens and its industry was turned over to military needs.  In 1944 the Vladimir Region was established and Murom became the regional centre of the Murom District within the region.