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Kostroma was founded in 1152 on the conjunction of Volga and Kostroma rivers by Yury Dolgoruky (he was the one who founded Moscow also) to secure the north- east part of his Rostov-Suzdal principality. Many times Kostroma was completely devastated. In the beginning of the 13th century Kostroma was burned because of a quarrel between Russian princes, who couldn't divide the country. In 1238 the Tartars invaded and plundered the town, in 1318 Moscow princes plundered Kostroma again, in 1375 the town was invaded by the river pirates, who came from Novgorod and ransacked the town. St Ipatiev monastery, located at the place where Kostroma river meets Volga river, was securing the town. In the beginning of 17th century the monastery was captured by Lzhedmitri II, who claimed to be the Tsar (king) of Russia, but he was banished by militiamen. By the end of the 17th century Kostroma became the third biggest town in Russia, after Moscow and Yaroslavl. It ceased to be a significant fort, and became an important cultural and commercial center.

Slavonic colonists come to the forests of the Middle Volga region in the end of XI century, attracted by wealth of woods, furry animals, fish and salt deposit. They found a small settlement where the Kostroma River flows into the Volga. Later, in 1152-1157, prince Yuri Dolgorukiy founds a frontier town-fortress Kostroma, which becomes the centre for further colonization of the wooded Volga region.

The wooded Volga region is rich in bogs and primeval forests, thus civilization develops here quite slow. Historians suggest that word Kostroma originates from the ancient Slavonic pagan festival of Kostroma, which is a man of straw and one of the most important summer celebrations of the ancient Slavs.

Kostroma is first mentioned in the Russian chronicles in 1213 in connection with the conflict between sons of the Great Prince Vsevolod Big Nest III of Vladimir Konstantin, prince of Rostov, burns Kostroma, which belongs to his brother Yuri, and sends Kostroma dwellers to Rostov. In the thirties of the XIII century Kostroma is burned one more time, but by the Tatars, who destroy every city on the Volga River. After 1239 Kostroma is reconstructed by Yaroslav of Vladimir, who builds in the city a wooden church of Saint Fyodor.

In 1246 Kostroma goes to Yaroslavs junior son, Vasiliy, who rules the town for 30 years till his death in 1276. When Vasiliy becomes Great Prince of Vladimir, he stays in Kostroma, making it the capital of North-East Russia. During his reign the town gets Spaso-Zaprudnensky monastery, church of Voskresenie (Resurrection) on Debra and Uspensky cathedral. In 1272 prince Vasiliy wins a battle against Tatars. After his death Kostroma again becomes a provincial town.

Kostromas favourable location on the left bank of the Volga affects towns development Kostroma stands away from main trade paths, connecting Rostov, Yaroslavl, Suzdal and Moscow, however, the town hides Moscow princes during Tatar attacks. The town population grows, replenished by resettlers from other cities. In XIII-XIV centuries Kostroma gets surrounded by fortified monasteries, protecting towns outskirts.

Kostroma meets the XV century as a big town, until it burns down during great fire of 1413. Moscow prince orders to build new stone houses in the town. The town welcomes craftsmen and merchants, until Polish interventionists invade the town in 1608 and start attacking nearest towns. In winter troops from Galich and Kostroma free the town. In 1613 the Council decides to appoint Mikhail Romanov, nephew of first wife of Ivan the Terrible, as Russian tsar. At that time Mikhail Romanov is in Kostroma, hiding in the Ipatievsky monastery. Same year Russian peasant Ivan Susanin performs his deed he guides a group of enemies to the forest and dies there with them.

After Mikhail Romanov becomes a tsar, members of the Royal family consider necessary to come to Kostroma to the Ipatievsky monastery. Every arrival of a royal person brings something new to the town. Twenties of the XVII century mark a new stage in the towns development. Neighbouring Yaroslavl flourishes, standing on the crossroad of main trade paths. Kostroma becomes the first town of the Volga region after Yaroslavl, where foreign merchants settle together with Russian ones. Kostroma sells and buys meat, milk, salt, bread, icons, iron and furs.

In 1619 citizens start building a new larger town and fortify it with ditches and a wooden wall with 23 towers and 6 gates. Inside the wall are several churches and other buildings. In 1650 the town boasts 2086 homesteads. Craftsmen export white soap, which foreign commercial agents claim to be the best soap ever. Arts and crafts flourish in Kostroma. However, fires and pandemics do not leave the town alone, but nothing can stop towns economic growth now. Citizens keep re-building the town. In 1702 Kostroma is fifth largest city in Russia.

During XVIII Kostroma keeps growing as an industrial, trade and political centre of vast territory. Textile mills, brick works, bell plant, printing-works and other enterprises appear in the town. Town planning scheme is approved in 1781 and requires much effort, since fire of 1773 changes the town completely. Kostroma raises many Russian cultural figures actors, painters, artists and writers.




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