​The Novo Dyevichy Convent

Peter the Great hangs streltsy in front of his sister Sophia's convent cell; from Diary of an Austrian Secretary of Legation ... by Johann Georg Korb.

Seventh Execution, 27 October 1698

Today was assigned for the punishment of the popes, that is to say, of those who by carrying images to induce the serfs to side with the streltsy, had invoked the aid of God with the holy rites of his altars for the happy success of this impious plot .

The Tsar's Majesty looked on from his carriage while the popes were hurried to execution. To the populace, who stood around in great numbers, he spoke a few words touching the perfidy of the popes, adding the threat, 'Henceforth let no one dare to ask any pope to pray for such an intention.' A little while before the execution of the popes, two rebels, brothers, having had their thighs and other members broken in front of the Castle of the Kremlin, were set alive upon the wheel; twenty others on whom the axe had done its office lay lifeless around these wheels. The two that were bound upon the wheel beheld their third brother among the dead. Nobody will easily believe how lamentable were their cries and howls, unless he has well weighed their excruciation and the greatness of their tortures. I saw their broken thighs tied to the wheel with ropes strained as tightly as possible, so that in all that deluge of torture I do believe none can have exceeded that of the utter impossibility of the least movement. Their miserable cries had struck the Tsar as he was being driven past. He went up to the wheels, and first promised speedy death, and afterward proffered them a free pardon, if they would confess sincerely. But when upon the very wheel he found them more obstinate than ever, and that they would give no other answer than that they would confess nothing, and that their penalty was nearly paid in full, the Tsar left them to the agonies of death, and hastened on to the Monastery of the Nuns, in front of which monastery there were thirty gibbets erected in a quadrangular shape, from which there hung two hundred and thirty streltsy. The three principal ringleaders, who presented a petition to Sophia, touching the administration of the realm, were hanged close to the windows of that princess, presenting, as it were, the petitions that were placed in their hands, so near that Sophia might with ease touch them. Perhaps this was in order to load Sophia with that remorse in every way, which I believe drove her to take the religious habit, in order to pass to a better life.

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