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Ivan the Terrible

Ivan the Terrible

Isabel de Madariaga
Copyright Date: 2005
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 526
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    Ivan the Terrible
    Book Description:

    Ivan IV, "the Terrible" (1533-1584), is one of the key figures in Russian history, yet he has remained among the most neglected. Notorious for pioneering a policy of unrestrained terror-and for killing his own son-he has been credited with establishing autocracy in Russia. This is the first attempt to write a biography of Ivan from birth to death, to study his policies, his marriages, his atrocities, and his disordered personality, and to link them as a coherent whole.Isabel de Madariaga situates Ivan within the background of Russian political developments in the sixteenth century. And, with revealing comparisons with English, Spanish, and other European courts, she sets him within the international context of his time. The biography includes a new account of the role of astrology and magic at Ivan's court and provides fresh insights into his foreign policy. Facing up to problems of authenticity (much of Ivan's archive was destroyed by fire in 1626) and controversies which have paralyzed western scholarship, de Madariaga seeks to present Russia as viewed from the Kremlin rather than from abroad and to comprehend the full tragedy of Ivan's reign.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14376-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Maps
    (pp. ix-ix)
  5. Foreword
    (pp. x-xix)

    The complex historiography of the reign of Tsar Ivan IV is usually expounded in detail in the first chapters of most late nineteenth- and twentieth-century works on Russian history.¹ It is a highly politicized historiography because at all stages since the beginning of the nineteenth century, historians have only too often forgotten that history is about human beings, and have been wedded to one or another theory of the interpretation of historical trends: Hegelianism, economic determinism, populism, historical materialism, Marxism, Eurasianism, economic materialism, Marxism–Leninism, most of which theories are at all times difficult to apply to a pre-modern society....

  6. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xx-xxi)
  7. [Map]
    (pp. xxii-xxii)
  8. Chapter I The Historical Background
    (pp. 1-22)

    The world the Grand Prince Ivan Vasil’evich was born into in 1530 was still somewhat strange and mysterious to western Europeans, though better known to travellers from Italy, the Holy Roman Empire and the one-time imperial Roman lands in the Balkans and the Middle East, now under Ottoman rule. Until the Mongol conquest in 1238–42, the Orthodox Christian Slavo-Scandinavian¹ princes in Russia had maintained relations with the kings of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Moldavia, Hungary and France, and the Holy Roman Emperor, and there had been frequent intermarriages. Harold Hardrada, king of Norway, married a daughter of Vladimir Yaroslavich;...

  9. Chapter II The Reign of Vasily III
    (pp. 23-38)

    Ivan III died in 1505, and his son Vasily acceded to the throne, as the result of his victory in a struggle for the succession between 1502 and 1505. On 14 April 1502, Ivan had transferred the Grand Principalities of Vladimir and Moscow to Vasily assamoderzhets(sovereign), thus depriving his grandson Dmitri, who had been arrested three days earlier with his mother, Elena, of his inheritance. This was clear proof of Ivan III’s earlier assertion of the underlying instability of the principle of succession in Russia: ‘Am I not free to decide between my children and my grandchildren? I...

  10. Chapter III Ivan’s Birth, Childhood, Adolescence, Coronation and Marriage
    (pp. 39-59)

    Elena Glinskaia did not at once fulfil Vasily’s expectations; he had to wait five years for the birth of her first son, Ivan, on 25 August 1530, during which she spent much time in religious pilgrimages, seeking divine intervention in the conception of her son.¹ (The delay did also give rise to some suspicions that Vasily might not be the father of the child.) Ivan’s birth, and that of his brother Iuri on 30 October 1532, were marked by the appearance of three comets between 1531 and 1533, terrible storms and in 1533 a frightful drought, which lasted three months,...

  11. Chapter IV The Era of Aleksei Adashev
    (pp. 60-74)

    Ivan was now crowned and married. But he was still only seventeen, and it remained for him to assert his authority as Tsar and impose his will on the surrounding boyars. It is interesting to compare the way the young Ivan reacted to power with the way of his almost-contemporary, the short-lived King Edward VI of England. Edward was only nine when he came to the throne, and he was surrounded by his overpowering uncles, the Duke of Somerset and the Lord Admiral Thomas Seymour. But the intrigues among the English ‘boyars’ led first to the execution of the Lord...

  12. Chapter V The ‘Government of Compromise’
    (pp. 75-91)

    The ‘government’, allegedly, of the ‘Chosen Council’ has also been called by historians the ‘government of compromise’, meaning that neither side in the class war said to be raging between the boyars, anxious to keep their lands, and the service gentry, anxious to acquire more land at their expense, was able to dominate policy. It was Adashev’s position, halfway between these two social groups, which enabled him to become the instrument of compromise. He is said to have ‘joined the government’ in 1547, though at that time his official rank was still that of an armed rynda or guard and...

  13. Chapter VI The Conquest of Kazan’
    (pp. 92-106)

    While Ivan IV was struggling in the 1550s with his first experience of ruling, he was also facing his first experience of the complexities of war and foreign policy. Russia was a landlocked power, with a toehold on the Gulf of Finland at Ivangorod, opposite Narva. To the southwest was the vast Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which had absorbed so much of the Dnieper basin and so many principalities of Kievan Rus’. It was no longer as powerful as it had been in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, since Ivan III and Vasily III, in the course of various wars, recovered some...

  14. Chapter VII The Dynastic Crisis of 1553: Domestic and Military Policy, and the Arrival of the English
    (pp. 107-122)

    After his triumphant return from the conquest of Kazan’ in late autumn 1552 Ivan stayed in Moscow and took up the threads of domestic policy again. However, early in 1553, an incident occurred which sowed the seeds of Ivan’s suspicions of incipient treason among his boyars. The outline of events, as first related in the Chronicles,¹ is as follows: on 1 March 1553, the day after the christening of the Tatar Khan Simeon of Kazan’, Ivan fell seriously ill of an unspecified fever. He was at times unconscious, at times delirious, and his life was feared for. His only son,...

  15. Chapter VIII The War in Livonia and the End of the ‘Chosen Council’
    (pp. 123-141)

    As usual there is no agreement among historians about what Ivan intended to do after the conquest of Kazan’ and Astrakhan’. Was his first assault on Livonia in 1558 part of a campaign to acquire an opening on the Baltic, as is usually maintained, or was it merely an effort, at a time when he was strapped for cash, to collect tribute allegedly due to him from part of Livonia, namely the city of Dorpat?¹ Or was he hesitating between the Livonian option and a push to conquer the Khanate of Crimea, put an end to Tatar slave raids into...

  16. Chapter IX The Death of Anastasia, and Ivan’s Second Marriage
    (pp. 142-157)

    There were several serious fires in Moscow in July 1560, and the Tsar removed Anastasia from the city to his palace in the country at Kolomenskoe, while he, together with his cousin Vladimir of Staritsa, worked hard to extinguish the fires.¹ Some three thousand Crimeans raided Moscow on 2 August and were put to flight. But the shock and the smoke were too much for the failing Tsaritsa, and she died on 7 August 1560 at the age of twenty-nine. Thus passed away the first Tsaritsa of the whole Russian realm. An apparently gentle and unassuming person, she was evidently...

  17. Chapter X Tsar Ivan and Prince Andrei Kurbsky
    (pp. 158-173)

    Throughout 1563 Ivan must have been turning over in his conscious and subconscious mind new conceptions of the theory and practice of power, of what he had the right to do and what he had the power to put into practice. For a man of his uncontrollable temperament, obsessed with power, the last few years must have been frustrating. He met with treason and betrayal at every turn, yet whenever he tried to eradicate it, he came up against the opposition of the Metropolitan, the Church Council, the boyars, the seniord’iaki.

    Executions of any likely opponents or critics of...

  18. Chapter XI The Setting Up of the Oprichnina
    (pp. 174-188)

    According to the chronicle, on 3 December 1564 Ivan left for Kolomna, to celebrate the day of St Nicholas there on the 6th. He was making for his palace of Kolomenskoye, accompanied by the Tsaritsa Maria and his sons. According to both the chronicle and two Livonian nobles, Johann Taube and Eilhard Kruse, who had been in captivity in Russia and had then entered Russian service, before the Tsar left Moscow he had ordered the removal from churches and monasteries of many icons, crosses, jewels and plate, embroidered robes and money, indeed of all his treasure. He also collected church...

  19. Chapter XII War in Livonia and the Zemskii Sobor of 1566
    (pp. 189-205)

    In one sense war with the Crimeans was Russia’s most pressing and constant problem, for the Tatar hordes could conduct their devastating raids from the distant steppes without any warning. They also fluctuated between alliance with the King of Poland–Lithuania (who also used Tatar mercenary troops) and with Russia. Russia, however, had begun to develop a systematic defence against Tatar raids by creating a chain of fortifications along the southern border which remained a feature of Russian life until the annexation of the Crimea in 1783. The first defensive line was along the river Oka, running through Tula and...

  20. Chapter XIII The Boyar Plot: 1) the Letters to King Sigismund
    (pp. 206-224)

    Events in the summer of 1566 are somewhat confused and overlapping. There was first of all the question of appointing a new Metropolitan, since Afanasii had been given permission to withdraw in spring 1566. But more important was what appears to have been a plot among service gentry present at theSoborof 1566, the Metropolitan, the Master of the Horse, I.P. Fedorov, one of the wealthiest and most prestigious boyars, and the Prince of Staritsa, to force Ivan to abolish theoprichnina. The difficulty with political experiments is that they can have unexpected results. Having given the Tsar, at...

  21. Chapter XIV The Boyar Plot: 2) the Executions of Ivan Fedorov, Metropolitan Filipp and Vladimir of Staritsa
    (pp. 225-241)

    Sigismund was not in fact pressing for military operations in the autumn of 1567, for he was in the throes of very delicate domestic negotiations for a constitutional union between Poland and Lithuania which he had been pursuing for some time. The King had now reached the conclusion that a closer union with Poland was necessary for the survival of Lithuania, even if the magnates were opposed to it. Quite apart from the problem of the succession which might not have been so urgent – he was only forty-nine – the burden of the war was becoming too much for...

  22. Chapter XV Armageddon
    (pp. 242-260)

    The next event in Ivan’s intimate circle which might have had a disturbing impact on his emotional balance was the death, on 9 September 1569, of his Tsaritsa, Maria Temriukovna, the Princess of Kabarda, probably then in her mid-twenties. Nothing is known for a fact about her relationship with Ivan, except that she had a son in 1563, who died when he was only a few months old. Russian and Soviet historians have portrayed her in a very negative light. How could Ivan have been attracted by a savage Tatar, however pretty, wrote Solov’ev,¹ in disregard of how attractive a...

  23. Chapter XVI Foreign Policy and the Tatar Invasions
    (pp. 261-277)

    While Ivan was conducting the fearsome purge of his armed forces and administration, the horizon on his external relations darkened. Shortly after the overthrow of Erik XIV of Sweden, and his coronation as King of Sweden, John III, in July 1569, had sent an embassy to Russia under Paul Juusten, Bishop of Åbo, to negotiate with Ivan. At first Ivan had proved conciliating, suggesting that he had only asked for John’s wife, Catherine Jagiellonka, to be handed over to him because he thought John was dead (which John was unlikely to believe) and he hoped to rescue her from the...

  24. Chapter XVII The End of the Oprichnina, and the Succession to the Polish-Lithuanian Crown
    (pp. 278-297)

    On 6 August 1572 Ivan received in Novgorod the news of the crushing victory of the Russian forces over the Crimean Tatars and their Turkish allies outside Moscow, in what was in fact a jointoprichninaandzemshchinaoperation, and the victory was celebrated with great banquets and rejoicings; ‘and on that day the church bells rang all day and until midnight and prayers were sung all night in churches and monasteries’.¹ But the victory had shown up the weakness of theoprichnikiin the military field.

    When and why, and whether, Ivan decided to abolish theoprichninaremains unknown....

  25. Chapter XVIII Grand Prince Simeon Bekbulatovich
    (pp. 298-316)

    According to a laconic entry in the Military Registers, the Lord Tsar and Grand Prince appointed the Grand Prince Simeon Bekbulatovich to be Grand Prince of Russia, in autumn 1575, while Ivan IV remained Prince of Moscow (Kniaz’ Moskovskii).¹ He also kept the titles of Tsar of all Russia, Tsar of Kazan’ and Astrakhan’, and the lordship of Livonia, creating immense confusion at the time and since. There is great uncertainty, because of the loss of records, about Ivan’s intentions and about which powers he handed over to Simeon and which he kept, and how long this interlude lasted. As...

  26. Chapter XIX Peace Negotiations
    (pp. 317-333)

    Around April 1579 Ivan, then in Aleksandrovskaia Sloboda, fell seriously ill.¹ He summoned the senior church hierarchy and the Boyar Council to his bedside and proclaimed his son Ivan his heir. He also addressed the Boyar Council urging its members to find means of entering on peace negotiations with Stephen Bathory. He had already drafted a will, perhaps several times, but the only surviving text of any of his wills is an undated copy, made early in the nineteenth century, of an eighteenth-century copy of an earlier copy of a sixteenth-century original, and historians are not unanimous about when exactly...

  27. Chapter XX The Truce of Yam Zapol’sky
    (pp. 334-350)

    The financial extremes to which Ivan had now been reduced led him to examine his resources again. A meeting of the Church Council, jointly with the Tsar and all the boyars, was called for the beginning of 1580 which passed a resolution on monastic lands. The text has survived in two forms, one of 15 January 1580, the other of 15 January 1581. In the preamble it was stated that the Council had met in view of the fact that the Crimeans, Nogays, the King of Lithuania, the Livonians and the Swedes were determined to exterminate the Orthodox religion. Moreover...

  28. Chapter XXI The Death of Ivan
    (pp. 351-366)

    The death of his eldest son in November 1581 finally broke Ivan’s spirit. The Tsar seemed to have lost the will to control the machine of government, to discipline the boyars surrounding him, and he began to redress some at least of the injuries he had caused. He took steps in 1582 to punish false denunciations.¹ He forgave some of those in disgrace, and tried to save the souls of those he had dispatched unshriven to their deaths by sending sums of money to monasteries for prayers for their souls. TheSinodikiwhich list his victims were begun at this...

  29. Chapter XXII Ivan’s Legacy to Russia
    (pp. 367-382)

    The confusion which still exists over the interpretation of Ivan’s reign provides one of the most obvious examples of the nefarious influence of ideology over historical writing. The portrayal of Ivan’s reign has been distorted almost from the very beginning, though one may fairly exclude Karamzin, the first professional Russian historian, who was also intellectually honest, if a romantic at heart. He saw Ivan IV first as the handsome young man with his loving and gentle wife, kept to the straight and narrow path by his upright friend Adashev, and by the stern priest Sylvester. But when his wife died,...

  30. Abbreviations
    (pp. 383-384)
  31. Notes
    (pp. 385-450)
  32. Brief Glossary
    (pp. 451-451)
  33. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 452-468)
  34. Index
    (pp. 469-490)