If we ever happen to talk about the mysterious figures in world, one name that invariably pops out is that of Ivan the Terrible. His reign on 16th century Russia is not at all documented – no papers and no letters. Whatever is known about him comes from second-hand sources through stories that have long been told. This post in particular will take us to a world of 20 weird and interesting Ivan the Terrible facts. We repeat – the information we provide here cannot be verified properly and we have gathered these information from different resources that already exist on internet.
Ivan the Terrible Facts: 1-10
1. Ivan the Terrible (aka Ivan IV) reigned from 1533 to 1584. He became the first tsar of entire Russia. He was ruthless and insane and became the first in Russia to build a government that was centrally controlled.
2. Born on August 25, 1530, he was the grandson of Ivan the Great. Yes! You read it right! He was born in 1530 and acquired the throne in 1533 because his father suddenly died.
3. Just because he became the Grand Prince in 1533 did not really give him the maturity that was needed for ruling. State affairs were then managed by his mother.
4. During his childhood, he spent a solitary life in a dungeon (we seriously doubt this dungeon story but can be possibly true). This gave him the opportunity to become a voracious reader.
5. Since his childhood he was pretty insane and merciless boy. As he grew up, he started torturing small animals, playing trombone, killing people, raping women, drinking beer and throwing pets out of Kremlin’s upper windows! (We really doubt the authenticity of the part which says raping women and killing people).
6. In 1538 his mother died. He was only 8 years old during his mother’s death. The rival boyar families (noble families) started disputing the legitimacy of his mother’s rule.
7. After his mother’s death, the nobility members looked after him but Ivan was often neglected and scorned by them. As a result of this, he developed a deep hatred for the boyar class and started suspecting that they were involved in the death of his mother.
8. He became suspicious and ruthless because of the constant danger he was exposed to while he was growing up but despite this, he actually developed a good taste for music and literature.
9. His full name was Ivan Chetvyorty Vasilyevich and he was born to the Rurik Dynasty in Grand Duchy of Muscovy. This father’s name was Basil III and his mother’s name was Elena Glinskaya.
10. He became the crowned tsar of Muscovy in 1547 and married a lady named Anastasia Romanovna the very same year.
Ivan the Terrible Facts: 11-20
11. By 1549, his rule’s constructive period started. A council of advisers were appointed and implemented (with the help of advisers) self-government in all rural areas. Church reform and statutory law were instituted and tax collection was reformed during the constructive period.
12. He then turned to the boyar class and implemented regulations on the obligatory duties of the boyar class in service to the crown.
13. Ivan the Terrible also came up with the foreign policy of resisting Mongol Golden Horde. There was yet another foreign policy which was that of gaining Baltic Sea access. His eventual aim was to capture independent regions and expand the boundaries of Moscow, building a centralized Russia.
14. The Tatar khanates of Astrakhan and Kazan were defeated by Ivan’s armies in years 1556 and 1552 respectively and the borders of Muscovy extended to Caspian Sea in south and Urals in east.
15. Ivan’s military offensives had a pretty bad impact on culture and economy. He also went to the extent of seizing private lands and redistributing the same among his supporters.
16. He developed a police force. All men rode on horses and were dressed in black. The job of this police force was not to maintain peace but to suppress dissent. This therefore made him a very unpopular leader.
17. In 1560 his first wife died and he started suspecting that the boyar class murdered her. He became paranoid and his behavior became erratic. Without informing anyone, he left Moscow and threatened people that he would renounce the throne.
18. Muscovites pleaded for his return because they were leaderless but he would return only under the conditions of absolute power on Moscow’s surrounding region. His another demand was that he should be allowed to confiscate properties of and execute people who would break laws or turn out to be traitors.
19. Ivan’s return marked the beginning of a 24-year long reign of terror. He destroyed the boyar families in the region and this earned him the moniker Ivan the Terrible. During this reign of terror he had a fit of rage when he killed his own son, beat up his pregnant daughter-in-law that led to miscarriage and also blinded St. Basil’s Cathedral’s architect. It was also during the reign of terror that he created Russia’s first secret police force known as Oprichniki.
20. His health started deteriorating in 1584 and his obsession with death started increasing. On March 18, 1584, the day eventually came when he died. He was playing chess when he had some kind of attack (probably a stroke). He was moved to his chamber where he died quietly.
- Terrible married 7 times. His wives in order were: Anastasia Romanovna, Maria Temryukovna, Marfa Sobakina, Anna Koltovskaya, Anna Vasilchikova, Vasilisa Melentyeva and Maria Nagaya.
- He killed his second son by hitting him on head using a pointed staff. He had hit his son after they had a heated argument on Terrible beating up his pregnant daughter-in-law because of wearing immodest clothes.
- He was a composer and a poet of great caliber. He wrote “Stichiron No. 1 in Honor of St. Peter” – an orthodox liturgical hymn that was released in 1988 by Rodion Shchedrin, a Soviet composer. The release was the first ever CD produced in Russia.
Image Credits: 1, 2