Lobnoye Mesto stands on the Red Square near Moscow Kremlin. In the medieval times its was used for public executions of criminals as well as proclamation of important laws that were signed by a monarch. Lobnoye Mesto can be translated as a 'forehead place'. It is a clear reference to Golgotha or 'place of the skull' in Jerusalem, where Jesus Christ was said to be Crucified. Saint Basil Cathedral was often referred simply as a 'Jerusalem' as a reference to the Holy City near Golgotha.
History of the Lobnoye Mesto
Time of troubles
The importance of the Lobnoye Mesto in the political life of Russia changed dramatically during the time of Troubles. With the death of Fyodor Ioannovich, the last king of the Rurik dynasty, various parties used the place to organize crowds. In a large area of the square, thousands of citizens could be gathered to direct them directly to the Royal chambers.
The first major event of the Troubles that took place in Lobnoye mesto was the appeal of false Dmitry I. on June 1, 1605, it was read by Gavrila Pushkin and Naum Pleshcheyev. In his letter, the impostor accused Boris Godunov of attempting to assassinate Tsarevich Dmitry, and declared the heir to the throne, Fyodor II, a traitor. False Dmitry I promised to grant new fiefdoms to voivodes, to show Royal favor to nobles, to provide tax benefits to Moscow merchants, and to "all Orthodox Christianity" guaranteed a peaceful life. When the envoys finished reading the address, the Muscovites " rejoiced with great joy, sending glory to God, and there was a great noise and cry in them, and it was impossible to make out who was saying what." After that, the exalted crowd rushed to the Kremlin. Fyodor Godunov, his mother and closest associates were arrested. On the same day, looting began in Moscow in the homes of political associates of the deposed Tsar.
On June 20, 1606, false Dmitry I approached Moscow. He was met on the outskirts of the city by representatives of the city's aristocracy, and the townspeople were waiting for the "saved Tsar" at the Frontal place. Approaching the crowd, the impostor "got off his horse and came to the crosses, and ordered them to start singing prayers, and those Latin Lithuania sat and blew trumpets and beat tambourines." Then the new "Tsar" went to the Kremlin, and Bogdan Belsky, accompanied by the princes and boyars, went to the crowd standing on the square. From the Front seat, he delivered a solemn speech in which he thanked God for the miraculous salvation of the king.
Less than a year later, a mob of angry Muscovites killed false Dmitry I, after which the extermination of his associates, primarily from among the Polish — Lithuanian aristocracy, began. On may 28, 1606, the day after the coup and the massacres, the bodies of the torn-up foreigners were dumped on the Lobnoye Mesto. According to the memoirs of a Polish contemporary, the corpses lay for three days.
Soon Vasily Shuisky was "elected" as the Tsar. To legitimize his power, he also addressed the people gathered on red square from the Front seat. The new government has made efforts to debunk the cult of the impostor. The plan failed because it was found the archive of the false Dmitry I, including letters in the Polish language, written by Yury Mniszek. The documents were urgently translated into Russian, and then publicly read from the Front seat.
In the following years, the economic and political situation in the country worsened, which led to the appearance of false Dmitry II. Even with a large army, the new impostor could not enter Moscow, although he tried to storm the city. At the height of the military confrontation in 1608, a group of Moscow conspirators, including Prince Roman Gagarin, tried to overthrow Vasily Shuisky. They also tried to use the place of the forehead, bringing Patriarch Hermogenes there and hoping to receive his blessing. But the Bishop did not cooperate with them. The boyars also showed no sympathy for the rebels. Gagarin and his followers went to the Tsar, but their forces were not enough to break into the Palace. The coup attempt failed and the conspirators left for Tushino, where the headquarters of false Dmitry II was located.
On July 27, 1610, Zachary Lyapunov, having conspired with Prince Golitsyn to overthrow Vasily Shuisky, went to Red square accompanied by Ivan Saltykov and a certain nobleman Khomutov. They went up to the place of the head and demanded the arrival of the Patriarch and the Duma boyars, "and as the confluence of the people was so great that they could not fit on this square, the aforementioned Lyapunov, Khomutov and Saltykov shouted that everyone should go to the field outside the city, and, having left the Outpost, there dismissed Shuisky from power."
The last stage of the Troubles shows the importance of the Lobnoye Mesto in the popular consciousness. In November 1612, after a long siege, the Novgorod militia liberated the Moscow Kremlin from the poles. On November 27, two processions led by Minin and Pozharsky moved from different directions to Kitay-Gorod. Both marches United at the Frontal place, where the Trinity Archimandrite Dionysius held a prayer service. From there, the procession went to the Kremlin's Cathedral square.
On February 21, 1613, the Zemsky Sobor decided to choose a new Tsar. On this day, the frontal place was used for the last time when receiving popular approval. Archbishop Theodoret and boyar Vasily Morozov asked the people gathered on red square who should be Tsar. The crowd expressed support for Mikhail Fedorovich Romanov. A few days later, the cross-kissing ceremony was also held there: so the boyars and Cossacks swore an oath to the new monarch, who at that time was in Kostroma.
Streltsy riot of 1682
The main events of the Streletsky riot of 1682 unfolded in the Kremlin, but the bodies of aristocrats close to the Naryshkins were dragged by the rebels to Red square on may 15 and thrown near the Frontal place. A few months later, the Streltsy, wanting to justify the crime, obtained permission to install a civil monument (the first in Russia) near the Frontal place. It was a wooden quadrangular pillar, on top of which were placed copper tablets with the names of the killed boyars and a description of their injustices towards the Streltsy. By autumn, the government of Princess Sophia decided to get rid of both the instigators of the rebellion and the reminder of the bloody events, so on November 2, 1682, the pillar was dismantled.
During the riot, an attempt was also made to use the frontal place to consolidate the forces of the Moscow dissenters. After the end of the military revolt, old believers preachers appeared among the Streltsy, calling for an open theological dispute with the official Church. They chose Red square as the venue for the discussion, but in the end, the meeting of representatives of the "new" and " old " faith took place on July 5, 1682 in the faceted chamber of the Kremlin. The only result of the dispute was mutual accusations of heresy. Immediately after the meeting, the old believers addressed the gathered citizens from the Front seat and announced their victory in the dispute. The government of Princess Sophia was not going to put up with dissenters, and over the next few days, the Streltsy, on her orders, arrested the most active preachers-old believers.
Penalty to Peter the great's time
For most of the 17th century, no death sentences were carried out on red square, but in popular memory, any significant events were associated with the Kremlin. This may explain the appearance of the legend that Stepan Razin was executed on the place of execution, although in reality the sentence was carried out on Bolotnaya square. In his memoirs, the urban legend was retold by the Hanoverian resident at the Russian court, Friedrich Christian Weber, who visited Russia at the beginning of the XVIII century.
Acts of intimidation of political opponents were repeatedly held on Red square during the reign of Peter I. on March 4, 1697, he ordered the remains of Ivan Tsikler, Alexey Sokovnin and three other conspirators executed in Preobrazhenskoye village after an attempt on the life of the Tsar to be put on public display. A new wooden pillar with five spokes, on which the severed heads were strung, was installed near the Lobnoye Mesto. Metal boards with the text of the guilty verdict were fixed on the pillar.
After the Streltsy riot of 1698, 799 Streltsy were sentenced to death. The main executions took place in Preobrazhenskoye, but some of the conspirators were executed on red square. On one day alone, February 13, 1699, 30 death sentences were carried out on a scaffold set up near the place of execution. The heads of the executed and the signs describing the crime were again left on the square. Executions were carried out only in the southern part of red square, which is probably why eyewitnesses named the frontal place as a reference point. This explains the formation of a stereotype about using the site as a scaffold.