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There is a false legend that he was so impressed with the structure that he had the architect, Postnik Yakovlev , blinded so that he could never design anything as beautiful again. In reality, Postnik Yakovlev went on to design more churches for Ivan and the walls of the Kazan Kremlin in the early s, as well as the chapel over St. Basil's grave that was added to St.

Basil's Cathedral in , several years after Ivan's death.

Ivan the Terrible

Although more than one architect was associated with this name and constructions, it is believed that the principal architect is one and the same person. Other events of this period include the introduction of the first laws restricting the mobility of the peasants, which would eventually lead to serfdom , instituted during the rule of future tsar Boris Godunov in The s brought to Russia hardships that led to a dramatic change of Ivan's policies.

Russia was devastated by a combination of drought and famine, unsuccessful wars against the Polish—Lithuanian Commonwealth , Tatar invasions and the sea-trading blockade carried out by the Swedes, Poles and the Hanseatic League. His first wife, Anastasia Romanovna , died in , and her death was suspected to be a poisoning. This personal tragedy deeply hurt Ivan and it is thought to have affected his personality, if not his mental health.

At the same time, one of Ivan's advisors, Prince Andrei Kurbsky , defected to the Lithuanians, took command of the Lithuanian troops and devastated the Russian region of Velikiye Luki. This series of treasons made Ivan paranoically suspicious of nobility. From there he sent two letters in which he announced his abdication because of the alleged embezzlement and treason of the aristocracy and clergy.

The boyar court was unable to rule in Ivan's absence and feared the wrath of the Muscovite citizenry. A boyar envoy departed for Aleksandrova Sloboda to beg Ivan to return to the throne.

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He demanded that he should be able to execute and confiscate the estates of traitors without interference from the boyar council or church. Upon this, Ivan decreed the creation of the oprichnina. The oprichnina consisted of a separate territory within the borders of Russia, mostly in the territory of the former Novgorod Republic in the north. Ivan held exclusive power over the oprichnina territory.


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The Boyar Council ruled the zemshchina 'land' , the second division of the state. Ivan also recruited a personal guard known as the Oprichniki. Originally it was a thousand strong. One known oprichnik was the German adventurer Heinrich von Staden. The oprichniki enjoyed social and economic privileges under the oprichnina. They owed their allegiance and status to Ivan, not to heredity or local bonds. The first wave of persecutions targeted primarily the princely clans of Russia, notably the influential families of Suzdal.

Ivan executed, exiled or forcibly tonsured prominent members of the boyar clans on questionable accusations of conspiracy. Among those executed were the Metropolitan Philip and the prominent warlord Alexander Gorbaty-Shuisky. In Ivan extended the oprichnina to eight central districts.

Of the 12, nobles there, became oprichniks, and the rest were expelled. Under the new political system, the Oprichniki were given large estates, but unlike the previous landlords, could not be held accountable for their actions. These men "took virtually all the peasants possessed, forcing them to pay 'in one year as much as [they] used to pay in ten. The price of grain increased by a factor of ten. Conditions under the Oprichnina were worsened by the epidemic, a plague that killed 10, people in Novgorod, and —1, daily in Moscow.

During the grim conditions of the epidemic, and a famine along with the ongoing Livonian War , Ivan grew suspicious that noblemen of the wealthy city of Novgorod were planning to defect, placing the city itself into the control of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In Ivan ordered the Oprichniki to raid the city. The Oprichniki burned and pillaged Novgorod and the surrounding villages, and the city was never to regain its former prominence.

Casualty figures vary greatly from different sources. The First Pskov Chronicle estimates the number of victims at 60, The massacre of Novgorod consisted of men, women and children that were tied to sleighs, then run into the freezing waters of the Volkhov River, which Ivan ordered on the basis of unproved accusations of treason.

He then tortured its inhabitants and killed thousands in a pogrom; the archbishop was also hunted to death. Yet the official death toll named 1, of Novgorod's big people nobility and mentioned only about the same number of smaller people. The Oprichnina did not live long after the sack of Novgorod.

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During the —72 Russo-Crimean war , oprichniks failed to prove themselves worthy against a regular army. In , Ivan abolished the Oprichnina and disbanded his oprichniks. In , Ivan once again pretended to resign from his title and proclaimed Simeon Bekbulatovich , his statesman of Tatar origin, the new Tzar.

Simeon reigned as a figurehead leader for a year. According to English envoy Giles Fletcher, the Elder , under Ivan's instructions Simeon confiscated all of the lands that belonged to monasteries, while Ivan pretended to disagree with the decision.


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  • When the throne was returned to Ivan in , he returned some of the confiscated land, keeping the rest. The German merchant companies ignored the new port built by Ivan on the River Narva in and continued to deliver goods in the Baltic ports owned by Livonia. Russia remained isolated from sea trade. Ivan established close ties with the Kingdom of England.

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    Ivan opened up the White Sea and the port of Arkhangelsk to the Company and granted the Company privilege of trading throughout his reign without paying the standard customs fees. With the use of English merchants, Ivan engaged in a long correspondence with Elizabeth I of England. While the queen focused on commerce, Ivan was more interested in a military alliance. During his troubled relations with the boyars, the tsar even asked her for a guarantee to be granted asylum in England should his rule be jeopardized. Elizabeth agreed on condition that he provided for himself during his stay.

    Ivan IV corresponded with overseas Orthodox leaders. In response to a letter of Patriarch Joachim of Alexandria asking the Tsar for financial assistance for the Saint Catherine's Monastery in the Sinai Peninsula , which had suffered from the Turks, Ivan IV sent in a delegation to Egypt Eyalet by archdeacon Gennady, who, however, died in Constantinople before he could reach Egypt.

    From then on the embassy was headed by Smolensk merchant Vasily Poznyakov. After his advance was stalled near Murom, Safa Giray was forced to withdraw to his own borders. These reverses undermined Safa Giray's authority in Kazan. A pro-Russian party, represented by Shahgali , gained enough popular support to make several attempts to take over the Kazan throne. In the tsar sent his envoy to the Nogai Horde and they promised to maintain neutrality during the impending war. The Ar begs and Udmurts submitted to Russian authority as well.

    In the wooden fort of Sviyazhsk was transported down the Volga from Uglich all the way to Kazan. It was used as the Russian place d'armes during the decisive campaign of The last siege of the Tatar capital commenced on 30 August. Under the supervision of Prince Alexander Gorbaty-Shuisky , the Russians used battering rams and a siege tower , undermining and cannons. The Russians also had the advantage of efficient military engineers. The city's water supply was blocked and the walls were breached. Kazan finally fell on 2 October, its fortifications were razed, and much of the population massacred.

    About 60,—, Russian prisoners and slaves were released.

    The Tsar celebrated his victory over Kazan by building several churches with oriental features, most famously Saint Basil's Cathedral on Red Square in Moscow. The fall of Kazan had as its primary effect the outright annexation of the Middle Volga. The Bashkirs accepted Ivan IV's authority two years later. In Ivan annexed the Astrakhan Khanate , destroyed the largest slave market on the Volga, and had a new fortress built on a steep hill overlooking the river.

    As a result of the Kazan campaigns, Muscovy was transformed into the multinational and multi-faith state of Russia. The results presaged the many disasters to come. A plan to unite the Volga and Don by a canal was detailed in Constantinople. Early in , Ivan's ambassadors concluded a treaty at Constantinople that restored friendly relations between the Sultan and the Tsar. In Ivan launched the Livonian War in an attempt to gain access to the Baltic Sea and its major trade routes. The war ultimately proved unsuccessful, stretching on for 24 years and engaging the Kingdom of Sweden , the Grand Duchy of Lithuania , the Polish—Lithuanian Commonwealth , and the Teutonic Knights of Livonia.

    The prolonged war had nearly destroyed the economy, while the Oprichnina had thoroughly disrupted the government.

    Ivan's realm was being squeezed by two of the great powers of the time. After rejected peace proposals from his enemies, Ivan IV found himself in a difficult position by The displaced refugees fleeing the war compounded the effects of the simultaneous drought, and exacerbated war engendered epidemics, causing much loss of life. Batory then launched a series of offensives against Muscovy in the campaign seasons of —81, trying to cut the Kingdom of Livonia from Muscovite territories.

    During his first offensive in , he retook Polotsk with 22, men. During the second, in , he took Velikie Luki with a 29,strong force. Finally, he began the Siege of Pskov in with a ,strong army. Narva in Estonia was reconquered by Sweden in Muscovy recognized Polish—Lithuanian control of Livonia only in Except for the island of Saaremaa , Denmark was out of the Baltic by In the later years of Ivan's reign, the southern borders of Muscovy were disturbed by Crimean Tatars.

    Their main purpose was the capture of slaves. In , the 40,strong Crimean and Turkish army launched a large-scale raid. Due to the ongoing Livonian War, Moscow's garrison was as small as 6,, and could not even delay the Tatar approach. Unresisted, Devlet devastated unprotected towns and villages around Moscow and caused the Fire of Moscow.

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    Historians estimate the number of casualties of the fire from 10, to as many 80, people. To buy peace from Devlet Giray, Ivan was forced to relinquish his claims on Astrakhan in favor of the Crimean Khanate although this proposed transfer was only a diplomatic maneuver and was never actually completed. This defeat angered Ivan. Between and , preparations were made upon his orders.

    In addition to Zasechnaya cherta , innovative fortifications were set beyond the River Oka that defined the border. The following year, Devlet launched another raid on Moscow, now with a ,strong [42] horde, equipped with cannons and reinforced by Turkish janissaries. On 26 July , the horde crossed the River Oka near Serpukhov , destroyed the Russian vanguard of noblemen and advanced towards Moscow.

    The Russian army, led by Prince Mikhail Vorotynsky , was half the size, estimated at between 60,—70, men; yet it was an experienced streltsi army, equipped with modern firearms and gulyay-gorods. On 30 July the armies clashed near the River Lopasnya in what would be known as the Battle of Molodi , which continued for more than a week. The outcome was a decisive Russian victory. The Crimean horde was defeated so thoroughly that both the Ottoman Sultan and the Crimean khan , his vassal, had to give up their ambitious plans of northward expansion into Russia.

    During Ivan's reign, Russia started a large-scale exploration and colonization of Siberia. In , shortly after the conquest of Kazan, the Siberian khan Yadegar and the Nogai Horde under Khan Ismail pledged their allegiance to Ivan, in hope that he would help them against their opponents. However, Yadegar failed to gather the full sum of tribute he proposed to the tsar, so Ivan did nothing to save his inefficient vassal.

    In Yadegar was overthrown and killed by Khan Kuchum , who denied any tribute to Moscow. In Ivan gave the Stroganov merchant family the patent for colonising "the abundant region along the Kama River", and in , lands over the Ural Mountains along the rivers Tura and Tobol. They also received permission to build forts along the Ob and Irtysh rivers. Around , the Stroganovs engaged the Cossack leader Yermak Timofeyevich to protect their lands from attacks of the Siberian Khan Kuchum. In Yermak started his conquest of Siberia. With some Cossacks , he started to penetrate territories that were tributary to Kuchum.

    Yermak pressured and persuaded the various family-based tribes to change their loyalties and become tributaries of Russia. Some agreed voluntarily, under better terms than with Kuchum; others were forced. He also established distant forts in the newly conquered lands. The campaign was successful, and the Cossacks managed to defeat the Siberian army in the Battle of Chuvash Cape , but Yermak was still in need for reinforcements. He sent an envoy to Ivan the Terrible, with a message that proclaimed Yermak-conquered Siberia a part of Russia, to the dismay of the Stroganovs, who had planned to keep Siberia for themselves.

    Ivan agreed to reinforce the Cossacks with his streltsi. Yermak's conquest expanded Ivan's empire to the east and allowed him to style himself "Tsar of Siberia" in the tsar's very last years. In Ivan beat his pregnant daughter-in-law Yelena Sheremeteva for wearing immodest clothing, and this may have caused a miscarriage. His second son, also named Ivan , upon learning of this, engaged in a heated argument with his father, resulting in Ivan's striking his son in the head with his pointed staff, fatally wounding him.

    Ivan was a poet, a composer of considerable talent, and supported the arts. His Orthodox liturgical hymn, "Stichiron No. Peter", and fragments of his letters were put into music by Soviet composer Rodion Shchedrin. The recording, the first Soviet-produced CD, was released in , marking the millennium of Christianity in Russia. Mirsky called Ivan "a pamphleteer of genius". This contention, however, has not been widely accepted, and most other scholars, such as John Fennell and Ruslan Skrynnikov continued to argue for their authenticity. Recent archival discoveries of 16th-century copies of the letters strengthen the argument for their authenticity.

    Ivan was a devoted [34] follower of Christian Orthodoxy and placed the most emphasis on defending the divine right of the ruler to unlimited power under God. He may also have been inspired by the model of Archangel Michael with the idea of divine punishment. Little is known about Ivan's appearance, as virtually all existing portraits were made after his death and contain uncertain amounts of artist's impression. His eyes are big, observing and restless.

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    His beard is reddish-black, long and thick, but most other hairs on his head are shaved off according to the Russian habits of the time". According to Ivan Katyryov-Rostovsky , the son-in-law of Michael I of Russia , Ivan had an unpleasant face, with a long and crooked nose. He was tall and athletically built, with broad shoulders and narrow waist. In , the graves of Ivan and his sons were excavated and examined by Soviet scientists.

    Chemical and structural analysis of his remains disproved earlier suggestions that Ivan suffered from syphilis , or that he was poisoned by arsenic or strangled. Ivan specialized in developing key relationships across a broad spectrum of industries and disciplines. At KKP, he integrated the knowledge of public affairs, business process, and communications to effectively expand the impact and reach of his clients. It was at his insistence that I wrote a memoir, and he persisted despite my first refusing and then ignoring his entreaties.

    But he is tougher than I, and he prevailed. His is a most successful technique, espoused by Sun Tzu and practiced with great success by Mao Tse-tung: jab, run, jab, rope-a-dope, jab again and again — and eventually wear the poor guy down. James Miranda Barry with his wife Anne Byrne. Not only did he introduce me to a whole spectrum of spectacular soldiers, boxers, policemen, educators and lawyers, but he reminded me when this book was finished to thank them all for their spectacular bravery and their uncompromising willingness to do all the difficult and brutally hard things we ask of men.

    Oz, and he helped Dr.