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The responsibilities of hereditary monarchs have always been loosely defined, but there is one unquestionable requirement of the job: to produce an heir. Other achievements tend to be secondary, generally things like conquering or defending territory or, less desirably, preserving peace. Royal marriages have most often been for political or financial reasons and rarely for love.

It took the reluctant Grand Prince Vasili III of Moscow two marriages and over twenty years to produce an heir. His first wife, Solomonia Saburova, failed to conceive, so he blamed her for being barren and sent her off to a convent (where she soon had a child, probably not his). After the divorce he shaved his beard, signaling to other gay men of his time and place that he was one of them.

Under pressure from the powerful boyars, Vasili married Elena Glinskaya and did his best to create a son. He was able to achieve sexual intercourse with her only if one of the officers of the guard joined them, naked, in the royal bed. Glinskaya was concerned that this arrangement might call into question the legitimacy of any children that might result, but she did eventually bear an heir to the throne: Ivan IV, known to history as Ivan the Terrible.

Vasili III Ivanovich (25 March 1479 – 3 December 1533, Moscow) was the Grand Prince of Moscow from 1505 to 1533. He was the son of Ivan III Vasiliyevich and Sophia Paleologue and was christened with the name Gavriil. He had three brothers; Yuri, born in 1480, Simeon, born in 1487 and Andrei, born in 1490, as well as five sisters: Elena (born and died in 1474), Feodosiya (born and died in 1475), another Elena (born 1476), another Feodosiya (born 1485) and Eudoxia (born 1492).

In 1533, whilst out hunting on horseback near Volokolamsk, Vasili felt a great pain in his right hip, the result of an abscess. He was transported to the village of Kolp, where he was visited by two German doctors who were unable to stop the infection with conventional remedies. Believing that his time was short, Vasili requested to be returned to Moscow, where he was kept in the Saint Joseph Cathedral along the way. By 25 November 1533, Vasili reached Moscow and asked to be made a monk before dying. Taking on the name Varlaam, Vasili died at midnight, 4 December 1533.

Stern, Keith (2009-09-01). Queers in History: The Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Historical Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals (Kindle Locations 12002-12012). Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition.

Further Readings:

A Brief History of Russia: Ivan IV and The Tsardom by SB Jeffrey
Paperback: 116 pages
Publisher: Webster's Digital Services (January 27, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1241001383
ISBN-13: 978-1241001384
Amazon: A Brief History of Russia: Ivan IV and The Tsardom

Please note that the content of this book primarily consists of articles available from Wikipedia or other free sources online. This book is about the history of Russia during the early reign of the Tsars. Readers will learn about the rule of Ivan the Terrible, the Livonian War, the Time of Troubles, and the House of Romanov.

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