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 Ivan IV the Terrible Rurikovich

Born:   25 August 1530
Deceased:   18 March 1584

Grand Prince of Moscow and all Russia (1533), the first Russian tsar (1547), the son of Grand Prince Vasily III and Elena Vasily


After the death of his father the three-year-old Ivan remained in care of his mother, who died in 1538, when the boy was only 8. Ivan grew up in the atmosphere of palace revolutions, race for power of conflicting seigniorial families of the Shuiskys and Belskys. Murders, intrigues and violence that surrounded him prompted his suspiciousness, vindictiveness and cruelty. As a child Ivan showed propensity to torment live beings, and his confidants approved of it.

In January, 1547 Ivan was enthroned and took the tsar’s title. In early stages his reigning was careless and thoughtless, but at the same time cruel. The policy of Ivan the Terrible at that time did not anticipate the self-will of boyars.

After the Moscow revolt of 1547, the internal policy of Ivan the IV was assisted by the Elective Rada. The Assembly of the Land, which participated in solving political, administrative, and economic problems, is also dated to the reign of Ivan IV the Terrible.

Besides, the tsar introduced certain changes into internal setup of the country. Thus, apart from the land reform, Ivan IV implemented military and title reforms. In 1549 together with the Boyar Duma he entered a new statute roll, titled Sudebnik. The peasant policy of Ivan the Terrible consisted in granting peasant communities with the right of self-management, establishment of order, and apportions of taxes.

The Army Reform of Ivan IV helped to shape a new structure of the army. Besides, during his reign military forces were well armed. The internal policy of Ivan the Terrible concerning army was based on strengthening of military discipline, and improvement fighting capacity.

As for the foreign policy of Ivan IV he was at war with the new Kazan khan Safa-Girey and undertook 3 campaigns to win him over. It took the Russian tsar 2 campaigns to subdue the Astrakhan kingdom. Besides, foreign policy of Ivan the Terrible was based on wars against the Crimean Khanate, Sweden, and Livonia. Ivan IV established trade relations with England and built the first Russian printing house in Moscow.

The internal policy of Ivan IV was conducted against the background of mass banishments, persecutions, and severe enslavement of peasants. In 1565 he set up oprichnina, which was a group of bodyguards who were used by the tzar in order to regulate different political disagreements and control aristocracy. The short epoch of oprichnina is known as one of the most murderous times in the Russian history. The bloody reign of the first Moscow tsar Ivan IV deeply scarred the memory of his contemporaries. It is not by chance that the Russian people awarded Ivan Vasilyevich with the nickname Grozny (Terrible).

Tags: Russian history Russian monarchs Ivan Grozny Ivan IV  

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