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Ivan the Terrible Thesis

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Ivan IV Vesilyevich, also known as Ivan the Terrible, was born into Russian royalty on the 25th of August 1530. His parents were Vasili III (See1-1) and Elena Glinskaya( See 1-2). When Ivan was only three years old, his father, Vasili III, died of a blood infection. Young Ivan was announced the Grand Prince of Moscow on the 3rd of December in 1533. This was the beginning of his reign. His rough childhood is thought to have been what drove him to be known as Ivan the Terrible.

The early education of young Ivan IV is obscure, except that it was continually plagued by catastrophe. After his father’s death in 1533, he was left in the custody of his mother, Elena Glinskaya. At the age of eight, Elena was fatally poisoned. Soon after his mother’s assassination, his nurse and caretaker, Agrafema, was abruptly deported to Kargopol (See 1-3). It seemed that everyone he drew close to was painfully taken away. He couldn’t gain any sense of stability after these painful losses. As on boyar faction after another fell from power, his life was always in danger. It has been said that before becoming known as Ivan the Terrible, he was called Ivan the Terrified. (Payne)

With Ivan’s parents dead and his closest caretaker gone, Ivan was left with only his deaf-mute brother, Yury, his maternal grandmother, Anna, and his two maternal uncles, Makhail and Yury Glinsky. Before their unfortunate death’s, Ivan’s parents prevented a tightly knit family, which ended up only hurting young Ivan. Without his family or any other befriended caretakers, Ivan became the victim of abuse and neglect brought on by his so-called guardians. Due to the violence and neglect he had to with stand, he became violent. Although he was not physically violent, mentally, he thought of morbid ways of torture to claim revenge against those who hurt him. These early thoughts of adolescents would later become a reason for him to look forward to gaining power.

As Ivan grew older, he underwent a complex development. The boyars had taught him how little life is worth. In a way he was brainwashed with violence, anger, and torture. At the age of twelve he began torturing animals for fun, and dropped dogs off the Kremlin battlements so he could enjoy observing their pain and suffering. When Ivan was fourteen, he and the boys who used to be his playmates, began “roaming the streets and roughing people up.” (Bobrick pg. 73)

In May 1545, Ivan was verbally attacked and harassed by about fifty Novgorod musketeers, who wished to submit a petition. After ordering his men to clear them out, a brawl broke out. Ivan order reinforcements and from there swords were drawn, clubs were raised and archers had the musketeers in their sights. Ivan came to the conclusion that someone close to the throne instructed the musketeers. He launched a full investigation under the power of the newly created investigatory commission.

In September 1546, at the age of sixteen, Ivan began somewhat providing himself with spirituality for his coronation. He began a “round up of the great monasteries and churches of his kingdom” (Bobrick) Two months later, Ivan took a visit to Novgorod (See 3-1) along with his 4000 troops. In revenge for the riot that occurred more than a year ago, he fined the Treasury of Novgorod and desecrated the Cathedral of St. Sophia. This was the start of a harsh relationship between All of Russia and the city of Novgorod.

On January sixth, 1547, Ivan was crowned “The First Tsar of Russia”. Some may say that Ivan’s strategy was to rule by fear, but I disagree. Ivan IV was no Saddam Hussein; he didn’t kill innocent people to send a strong message. He killed those who were corrupt and disobeyed him. His reforms shaped Russia into what it is today. He made Russia into a country that was strong economically, militarily, culturally, and politically.

In 1549, Ivan began the first wave of reforms. This was the beginning of Ivan’s true reign of power. In his first wave of reforms, he hoped to bring greater order and discipline to the religious and moral life of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Another one of his reforms was to strengthen the military. He strengthened the military by bringing in new tactics, weaponry, and six new companies of musketeers.

Along with Russia’s newly strengthened military and culture, Ivan found an unexpected answer to the local administration of justice and tax collection problem. The local justice systems could not handle the growing number of bandits. So Ivan found a solution; give the citizens in high banditry areas the power to select elders who would then have the authority to arrest or hang those notorious for banditry. This was a surprisingly good solution to the growing problem; officials now had one less problem to take care of. Ivan’s government quickly reaped the benefits from the reforms. As time passed more district elders were chosen to take care of the bandits.

Whether you agree or disagree with Ivan IV’s style of rule, it is a fact that he changed Russian rule forever. His policies shaped all of Russia into what it is today. His childhood really did make him into who he was as a ruler. He was raised in a violent environment, which led him to become violent, but also led him to use his leadership role for good. Although, he was not afraid of hurting anyone or getting his hands dirty, he truly wanted the best for Russia.

Vasili III: (1479-1533)
* Grand Prince of Moscow 1505-1533
* Son of Ivan III and Sophia Paleologue
* From House of Rurik
Elena Glinskaya: (1510-1538)
* Second and final wife of Vasili III
* Regent of Russia for 5 years
* Mother of Ivan (Future Ivan the Terrible) and Yuri Vasilyevich (future prince of Uglich) * Daughter of Vasili Lvovich Glinsky and Princess Anna of Serbia

Kargopol: is a town in and the administrative center of Kargopolsky District of Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia.

Map of Arkhangelsk Oblast

Novgorod: One of the most historic cities in Russia.


Anonomous. Dromo’s Den. <www.dromo.info/ivanivbio.htm>. Bobrick, Benson. Fearful Majesty: The Life and Reign of Ivan the Terrible. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1987. Payne, Robert. Ivan the Terrible. Lanham: Cooper Square Press, 2002.

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