Little Bits of History

Formidable Ruler

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 16, 2015
Ivan the Terrible

Ivan the Terrible

January 16, 1547: Ivan IV Vasilyevich becomes Tsar of All the Russias. He was born on August 25, 1530 to Vasili III of Russia and Elena Glinskaya. He became Grand Prince of Moscow on December 3 1533 when he was just three years old. His mother, Vasili’s second wife, was regent until her death which many believe was an assassination. Ivan was then eight. As a child, both Ivan and his younger brother, Yuri, often felt disrespected by the Shiusky and Belsky families. On this day, he was crowned with Monomakh’s Cap at the Cathedral of the Dormition. He was sixteen and was the first to be crowned as Tsar of all the Russias, claiming ancestry to the Kieven Rus. Being crowned as Tsar, he sent a message to the world and to Russia, he was now the supreme ruler.

He was known as Ivan Grozny which literally means Ivan the Formidable but he is today commonly called Ivan the Terrible which carries a different tone of bad or evil. Because of his long rule, he was given time to conquer many regions including the Kazan, Astrakhan, and Siberia. During his reign, there were almost a billion acres under his control or 1,562,500 square miles. He brought about many changes and moved Russia from a medieval state to an empire and regional powerhouse. His reputation is colored by the account one uses. In some records, he is shown as progressive, intelligent, and devout (Russian Orthodox). Other records point to his periodic outbreaks of mental illness which increased with age. He did much good; he killed his own son.

The early part of his reign was quite peaceful even with the Great Fire of 1547 which burned much of Moscow and displaced about 80,000 people and killed thousands. He rebuilt and modernized, revised the law code,  created the Sudebnik of 1550 which greatly weakened the aristocracy, founded a standing army, established the first Russian parliament, and normalized the Church with the Council of the Hundred Chapters. He brought about self government in rural areas, established the Moscow Print Yard which printed many books in the vernacular. He built St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. But not all his reign went so well.

The 1560s brought drought and associated famine. There were unsuccessful wars against Poland and Lithuania. The Tartars invaded. His first wife, Anastasia Romanovna, died in 1560 of suspected poisoning. Internal politics created more havoc. He was given absolute power at a time when his mental health was at a low. He created the oprichnina, lands within the borders of Russia, in the Novgorod Republic. In the 1570s, plagues killed 10,000 people there and between 600 and 1000 daily in Moscow. Novgorod was sacked and the citizens massacred. In 1581, he killed his son and heir apparent, leaving a feeble minded younger brother to rule. He died in 1584 at the age of 53. He had a stroke while playing chess. His childless son, Feodor, was left to rule. When he died in 1598 without an heir, the Time of Troubles really began.

I will not see the destruction of the Christian converts who are loyal to me, and to my last breath I will fight for the Orthodox faith – Ivan the Terrible

Oh Satan! Why have you planted such a godless seed in the heart of a Christian Tsar [Ivan the Terrible], from which such a fire swept over all the Holy Russian land – Andrei, Prince Kurbsky

Ivan Ilych’s life had been most simple and most ordinary and therefore most terrible – Leo Tolstoy

Ivan the Terrible started life as a child, a fact that troubled his later personality. – unknown

Also on this day: Prohibition – In 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment was ratified.
Hi – In 1964, Hello, Dolly! took Broadway by storm.
Grote Mandrenke – In 1362, a storm tide in the North Sea flood the German city, Rungholt.
Hablo Espanol  – In 1492, a dictionary was first written.
League of Nations – In 1920, the League of Nations held its first council meeting.

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