- NAME: Ivan the Terrible
- OCCUPATION: Prince, Tsar
- BIRTH DATE: August 25, 1530
- DEATH DATE: March 18, 1584
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Kolomenskoye, Duchy of Muscovy, Russia
- PLACE OF DEATH: Moscow, Russia
- AKA: Ivan the Terrible
- AKA: Ivan Chetvyorty Vasilyevich
- AKA: Ivan Grozny
- AKA: Ivan IV
- AKA: Ivan Vasilyevich
- Nickname: "Grozny"
Best Known For
Ivan the Terrible, or Ivan IV, was the first tsar of all Russia. During his reign (1533-1584), Ivan acquired vast amounts of land through ruthless means, creating a centrally controlled government.
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The grandson of Ivan the Great, Ivan the Terrible, or Ivan IV, acquired vast amounts of land during his long reign (1533-1584), an era marked by the conquest of the khanates of Kazan, Astrakhan and Siberia. Ivan the Terrible created a centrally controlled Russian state, imposed by military dominance. Many believe him to have been mentally ill. One of his violent outbursts was perhaps the reason for his son's death.
"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."
"May I be damned! I've killed my son! I've killed my son!"
"Ivan the Terrible was right. You cannot rule Russia without a secret police."
The first tsar of all Russia, Ivan the Terrible, or Ivan IV, had a complex personality. Intelligent yet prone to outbreaks of uncontrollable rage, Ivan's tragic background contributed to his infamous behavior. Not a lot of detail is known about his early life, and historians debate his accomplishments as a leader. However, it is generally agreed that his reign established the current Russian territory and centralized government for centuries to come.
The grandson of Ivan the Great, Ivan the Terrible was born Ivan Chetvyorty Vasilyevich on August 25, 1530, in the Grand Duchy of Muscovy, Russia, to members of the Rurik dynasty. His father, Basil III, died when he was 3 years old. His mother, Elena Glinskaya, ruled as regent until her death in 1538, when Ivan was 8. During this time, the realm rapidly degenerated into chaos as rival boyar (noble) families disputed the legitimacy of her rule.
The court intrigue and constant danger that Ivan was exposed to while growing up molded much of his ruthless and suspicious nature. Evidence indicates that Ivan was a sensitive, intelligent boy, neglected and occasionally scorned by members of the nobility who looked after him after his parents' death. The environment nurtured his hatred for the boyar class, whom he suspected of being involved in his mother's death. He reportedly tortured small animals as a boy, yet still managed to develop a taste for literature and music.
In 1547, Ivan IV was crowned tsar of Muscovy. That same year, he married Anastasia Romanovna. In 1549, Ivan appointed a council of advisers, a consensus-building assembly who helped institute his reforms. During what is considered the constructive period of his reign, he introduced self-government in rural regions, reformed tax collection, and instituted statutory law and church reform. In 1556, he instituted regulations on the obligations of the boyar class in service of the crown.
In foreign policy, Ivan IV had two main goals: to resist the Mongol Golden Horde and to gain access to the Baltic Sea. Ultimately, he aimed to conquer all remaining independent regions and create a larger, more centralized Russia.
In 1552 and 1556, Ivan's armies crushed the Tartar khanates of Kazan and Astrakhan, respectively. This extended Muscovy control to the Urals in the east and the Caspian Sea in the south, creating a buffer zone against the Mongols. (Ivan commissioned St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow's Red Square, built between 1555 and 1561, to commemorate the conquest of the Tatar city of Kazan.) Ivan was not as successful, however, at annexing Lithuania and gaining access to the Baltic: One of his advisers defected to Lithuania and led its army to defeat Ivan IV's offensive.
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