He was educated at the court of Ivan the Terrible. From ordinary guardsmen became king approached. He was married to the daughter of Malyuta Skuratov, the head of the guardsmen. Boris, Irina`s sister was the wife of Fyodor - son of Ivan IV.
In 1584, shortly before his death, Ivan appointed Nikita Romanovich, Uncle Fyodor, his guardian - the head of the so-called Regency council - for the purpose of surveillance of public affairs because they do not trust the mental abilities of his son. But in 1586 Nikita Romanovich died, and Boris Godunov (member of the Regency Council) became the de facto ruler of Russia.
Boris rules and skillfully courted popular acclaim. He stopped the terror of Ivan IV, but continued its policy of strengthening the autocratic power of the king. Boris weakened the influence of the most important boyar families (Shuiskis, Romanov et al.), Trying to dislodge Fyodor to sit on the throne of his brother Dmitri - son of Ivan the latter, the fifth wife, or at least dilute Fedor and sister of Boris, because of their childlessness. Godunov continued to rely on the service nobility, which is generously rewarded for their service estates. Peasants were finally assigned to the owners. Boris strengthened public finances, supporting trade with the British and the Dutch sought to improve relations with Western Europe. As a result of the war with Sweden in 1590-1593 were returned to the city Yam, Oreshek, Ivangorod and others, Russia`s influence has spread to the Caucasus (expanded ties with Georgia, a fortress at the mouth of r.Terek was built), stuck in Siberia. The main achievement of the period of custody of Boris in 1589 was the rise of the Moscow Patriarchate Metropolitan Church to the status that has made Russian church independent from the Greek.
In 1598, after Theodore`s death without an heir, Boris was elected king on the Zemsky Sobor - Meeting of the boyars, senior clergy and representatives of merchants, cities and land. With the death of Fyodor cut short the royal dynasty of Rurik, for in 1591 under mysterious circumstances of the death of his half-brother Dmitri.
Boris continued the policy, which they carried out under guardianship, but in 1601-1603 the country understood the terrible famine. The discontent of the people and knights created a threat to the machinations of imperial authority. Boris revived extensive system of spies and spies, and many times the cruelty of Ivan IV.
In 1603 in Poland there was a contender for the Russian throne, who declared himself Dmitry allegedly narrowly escaped death. In 1604, with the support of the Poles impostor marched on Moscow. Although his small army was growing rapidly at the expense of the rebellious peasants, scattered Russian troops and Cossacks, False Dmitry has not achieved much success to 13 (23) On April 1605, when Boris died. The throne was succeeded by his son Fedor, but the nobles had supported the applicant and the legitimate king was killed. Death of Boris marked the onset of the crisis era in the history of Russia - Time of Troubles, which lasted until 1613.