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HOME   -   PEOPLE IN HISTORY A-Z   -   IVAN THE TERRIBLE

 
   


Ivan the Terrible 1530 - 1584


Ivan the Terrible 1530 - 1584

Image Above

Tsar Ivan the Terrible.

Detail from the 1897 painting by Viktor Vasnetsov.

 

Ivan the Terrible was actually Ivan IV, or Ivan Vasilyevich. If you are Russian, you will probably call him Ivan Grozny, which means Ivan the Terrible.

When Ivan was 16 years old, he became the first czar of Russia (1547-1584.)

 

Ivan the Terrible — His Strengths

Despite his cruelty, Ivan the Terrible improved Russia's governmental administration and contributed to the nation's culture.

Ivan was also a skillful writer with a talent for biting sarcasm. He was eager to maintain political relations with Europe and was a devout adherent of the Orthodox Church.

Because of its Orthodox religion, after Constantinople, Moscow became the Third Rome. Its ruler was referred to as czar (from the word caesar).


 

Ivan IV the Terrible His Family

Ivan was a member of the Rurik Dynasty.

Ivan's grandfather was  Ivan III the Great.

Ivan's father was the  Grand Duke Vasily III of Moscow. His mother was Yelena Glinskaya. Ivan's mother died in 1538, allegedly by poison.

Ivan's spouse was Anastasia Romanovna. They married in 1547 and she died in 1560. Ivan seemed especially off-balance after Anastasia's death. He then married six more times, disposing of unwanted wives quickly.

Ivan's children were Ivan and Fyodor (by Anastasia). He later had six more children by his various other wives.



And in Ivan's time the map looked like this:

The Growth of Russia in Europe, 1300-1796
RUSSIA IN EUROPE
Click map to enlarge

 


How Ivan Became Terrible

Ivan suspected conspiracies everywhere and eventually announced he would abdicate because of the lack of loyalty around him. He was only willing to continue to rule under two conditions:

First, he would be allowed to deal with alleged deserters at his discretion.

Second, he would be permitted to possess pieces of land throughout Russia that were exclusively under his control.


These terms were accepted, and Ivan launched his reign of terror. He hired a large personal army, the oprichniki, and all potential traitors were cruelly executed. Ivan retreated and left the daily duties to his dubious executives.

This infamous corps of bodyguards was finally dissolved after the Tartars sacked Moscow in 1571.

 

Succession

Ivan was angered by the way his pregnant daughter-in-law had dressed herself. When Ivan began to beat her, her husband Ivan Jr. came to her rescue. The fight escalated and father Ivan killed his son and successor — Ivan.

Thus Fyodor later became Ivan's successor.

When Fyodor died without an heir in 1598, the Time of Troubles began and lasted approximately 15 years.

 

IVAN THE TERRIBLE AND HIS SON IVAN ON NOVEMBER 16, 1581
IVAN THE TERRIBLE AND HIS SON IVAN ON NOVEMBER 16, 1581
Ilya Efimovich Repin, Oil on canvas, 1885
Tretyakov Gallery
 



Ivan's Military Campaigns

The Livonian War

The Livonian War (1558 - 1583) was provoked by Ivan who desired to possess Livonia (modern Estonia and Latvia) with its access to the Baltic Sea.

Russia fought Lithuania, Poland and Sweden but was defeated. It had to refrain from all claims on Livonian territories. The financing of this lengthy war seriously strained Russia's economy.

And here is a map of the Baltic 1560 - 1661

Map of the Baltic 1560 - 1661
THE BALTIC 1560 - 1661
Click map to enlarge



The Tartars

The  Tartars were a constant threat to Russia. Ivan captured their city Kazan in 1552 and later Astrakhan in 1556.


St. Basil's Cathedral
ST. BASIL'S CATHEDRAL


St. Basil's Cathedral
is an architectural masterpiece with nine towers built on Red Square.

It was completed in 1561 to honor military victories over the Tatars. Tradition says that Ivan had the architects blinded so that they could never again design a building so beautiful.

However, when Ivan was distracted by the Livonian War, the Tartars came back with a vengeance and burned Moscow to the ground, decimating the number of inhabitants from 200,000 to 30,000. The year? 1571.


And here is
 Ivan the Terrible's timeline.
 


Ivan the Terrible, 1530 - 1584
IVAN THE TERRIBLE
Click to enlarge

 

 

 

 

 

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