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Ivan IV the Terrible (1530-1584) - Grand Duke of Moscow and "All Russia", the first Russian tsar of the Rurik dynasty. He had a cool and unbridled disposition, the main idea of government was to strengthen the autocracy and strengthen the centralization of the state. He carried out many reforms and during his 40-year rule turned Russia from a backward, fragmented country into a great power. With the Chosen Rada, he canceled feeding, completed the labial, carried out the zemstvo and other reforms, established the oprichnina, canceled the peasant exit on St. George's Day. Under him, the Kazan (1552) and Astrakhan (1556) khanates were conquered, Yermak's campaign to Siberia (1581) was organized, and the development of book printing in Russia began. He tried to win back access to the Baltic Sea, but failed, losing the Livonian War (1558-83). He died in a political and economic crisis, the exact cause of death has not yet been established.
Ivan the Terrible became tsar at the age of three. Ivan IV was the eldest son of Grand Duke Vasily III Ioannovich from his second marriage with Princess Elena Vasilievna Glinskaya. His birth was greeted with great national joy, since the tsar had no children for more than 20 years. His father died in 1533, when Ivan was only 3 years old. He inherited the throne of the Grand Duke of Moscow. For 5 years, while the boy was growing up and receiving education, his mother Elena was the regent of the state. In 1583, the mother died. After her death, a struggle for power between the boyar clans: Shuisky, Belsky and Klinsky unfolded around the throne. From the tsar's correspondence: "We and my only-begotten brother, who had died in the Base, Georgy, began to be brought up as foreigners or the last poor. Then we endured hardships in clothing and food. We had no will in anything ...". At the age of 13, he tried to take the first step for his own approval, ordering to take into custody Prince Andrei Shuisky, and then execute him. On January 8, 1547, 16-year-old Ivan was married to the kingdom, becoming the first king of "all Russia". Perhaps it was precisely because his childhood passed in such unbearable conditions of the struggle for power that he became a cruel tyrant king.
The mother of Ivan IV, Elena Vasilievna, died a violent death. According to some assumptions, she could have been poisoned by hostile boyars. Spectral analysis of Elena Glinskaya's hair showed an increased content of mercury, which again suggests intentional murder. However, another assumption is possible: in those ancient times, mercury was often added to women's cosmetics and, accordingly, was applied to the face. Perhaps this is what led to the death.
Ivan the Terrible was a mentally unbalanced person of a weak mind. If one can agree with the first, then the second - a weak mind - cannot be recognized. From childhood he possessed a quick and flexible mind, which, of course, was distorted in the course of the cruel conditions of childhood. In his youth, he already had developed mental abilities, he knew how to pronounce passionate, convincing speeches, which was also noted by his contemporaries. He had a remarkable mastery of oratory, perhaps the best in it in Russia in the XIV century. In addition, he had an excellent memory and theological erudition. Extensive correspondence also testifies to his excellent intelligence (for example, with Prince Kurbsky and the English Queen Elizabeth). He even wrote music and lyrics for one of the church services.
Ivan the Terrible was a deeply religious person and wanted to make Moscow a "third Rome". Here it is necessary to say about the strong influence of the Metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox Church Macarius. His goal was to transform Moscow into a "third Rome": "Two Romes have fallen, the third is standing, and the fourth will never be." He gave young Ivan the idea of being crowned king. Even the meaning of the word "king" comes from the word "caesar" (abbreviated version). As a result, during his coronation, Ivan was not only proclaimed the king of "all Russia", but also the heir to the Roman emperor and the secular ruler of the entire Christian world. In addition, the king's confessor, priest Sylvester, who also had considerable influence on him, instilled in the young king a fear of God. However, falling out of favor, he was stripped of his ranks and exiled to Solovki.
The first marriage of the young king was successful and long. The tsar married the boyar daughter Anastasia some time after the coronation. He chose a bride from 1,500 beauties of Russia. This woman had an unusually gentle character and gave the young tsar everything that he had been deprived of since childhood: the warmth of the family hearth, the joy of life, fatherhood, family happiness. They lived together for 13 years, during which six children were born, only two boys survived: Ivan and Fedor, three girls and their son Dmitry died. Ivan followed his father's temper, while Fyodor was frail and weak-willed. But all this does not mean that the king was faithful to his wife, rather the opposite. The death of his wife greatly influenced Ivan IV, the loss of a dear person stirred up the worst features in him and aggravated the instability and fury of nature.
Anastasia, the first wife of the tsar, was killed. According to some sources, Anastasia Romanovna began to get sick often and died before she was 30 years old. Modern burial studies have discovered the presence of mercury in the hair of this woman (as in the mother of the king). Therefore, the question of the cause of death is as ambiguous as in the study of the death of Elena Vasilievna. Perhaps the beloved wife of Ivan IV was poisoned with mercuric chloride HgCl2, which is highly soluble in drinks and was known to the medicine of that time.
Ivan the Terrible captured the Kazan Khanate not from the first campaign. In fact, three campaigns were undertaken. The first (1547-1548) actually did not take place, since the troops and artillery were ferried across the fragile ice of the Volga River, as a result, most of the army and guns simply went under the ice. The performance had to be stopped. But the war with the Kazan Khanate was inevitable, as the outgoing threat was too real. The second campaign (1549-1550) was more successful and Russian troops reached Kazan, but the city itself could not be taken. During this campaign, the fortress of Sviyazhsk was founded, which later became a strong military point. It took only 4 weeks to build it. The third campaign (June-October 1552) is the last one that brought the tsar the glory of the conqueror. It was attended by about 150 thousand people and 150 cannons. It should be noted that the Russian artillery of that time was considered one of the strongest. The cannons cast under Ivan the Terrible were used in many battles of the 15-17 centuries. This campaign ended with the capture of Kazan. About 60 thousand Christians were released from the polo (according to some sources, up to 100 thousand). And in 1556 the Astrakhan Khanate was conquered.
After the capture of Kazan, Ivan the Terrible ordered to build a cathedral. After each successive victory in the conquest of the khanates, another church was erected on the square in the name of the saint on whose day the victory was celebrated. After the end of the conquest of the Kazan and Astrakhan khanates, Ivan IV ordered the construction of the famous Intercession Cathedral (St. Basil's Cathedral) in Moscow. Architects Barma and Postnik Yakovlev (perhaps it was the same person) erected 8 churches on the same foundation around the ninth central one. This 65-meter cathedral was the tallest building in Moscow at that time, holding the lead until the end of the 16th century. Another invaluable creation was made in honor of the capture of Kazan - the famous crown of Ivan IV, decorated with rubies, turquoise, pearls with a magnificent uncut topaz in the center.
Ivan IV forced the people to choose between the rule of the boyars and the tsar. Dual power and constant palace intrigues ruined the country - the king saw this, but at first he did not take any measures. The death of his first wife made him sharper. At the end of 1564, suspecting boyar treason, he ordered to load the Kremlin's gold treasury and holy icons into a sleigh and set off with the whole family to the Aleksandrovskaya Sloboda. On January 3, 1565, he wrote two letters: the first - to the highest church hierarchs, which indicated that the boyars' conspiracy did not give him the opportunity to lead the country, the second - to the people that the tsar was not angry with the people, giving them a decision. The choice was made and the higher ranks and clergymen went after Ivan IV with a request to return to the throne: “Let the tsar execute his villains: his will is in the stomach and death; but let the kingdom not be left without a head! "The result was the creation of an oprichnina by the tsar, allowing the tsar to hold power in his hands. Ivan the Terrible took all these events very hard. Having left for the Aleksandrovskaya Sloboda as a strong-willed man, he returned to Moscow two months later looking like old man, although he was 34 years old.
The guardsmen were the main force of the king. It was an army of 6 thousand, made up of the most loyal people, to whom the tsar granted lands and in many ways freedom of action. Black horsemen tied the heads of dogs and brooms to the saddles, symbolizing the tracking down of traitors and "sweeping" them from Russia. The core of the oprichnina was about 300 people, forming a kind of brotherhood. The creation of the oprichnina has always caused many disagreements among historians. On the one hand, these were people who committed arbitrariness, killing not only the guilty, but also many innocent people. On the other hand, it was these regiments that played a decisive role in repelling the raids of Khan Divlet-Girey, and also administered the tsar's harsh judgment over the unwanted, which in those harsh times held back uncivilized Russia from turmoil.
The disclosure of the Novgorod conspiracy led to the massacre of people. In 1570, many officials of Veliky Novgorod were accused of conspiracy, including the keeper of the seal Ivan Viskovaty and the treasurer Nikita Kurtsev. This was not the first wave of conspiracies. The tsar did not have a personal hatred for the city, it was just that further events were politically necessary for him. As a result of the campaign against Novgorod, about half of the city's population was killed. The executions were carried out in public and very brutally. People were flayed alive, cut off pieces, drowned in the river, impaled, etc. This cruel reprisal made Russia fear the tsar, which gave him the opportunity to hold power in his hands and carry out reforms, creating a powerful centralized state.
Ivan the Terrible had many wives, all of them did not die of their own. Ivan the Terrible had seven (according to some sources, eight) wives, among whom the first lived the longest and was truly loved by the tsar. Further marriages, it seems, either did not stand comparison with the first in the diseased brain, or turned out to be the result of a worsening mental state. The second marriage was with the daughter of the Kabardian prince Temryuk, Kucheny, who after baptism took the name of Maria Temryukovna. She was young and beautiful, but she had a very aggressive and cruel character. Perhaps it was she who contributed to the further damage to the character and mores of the king. In 1569 she fell ill and died, although according to some sources she was poisoned by the boyars. The latter fact has no confirmation. The third wife, Martha Sobakina, died a virgin about two weeks after the wedding. It was said that the queen was poisoned. However, modern research has not revealed the poison in the remains. Perhaps the poison was of plant origin. The fourth marriage was prohibited by the law of the church, but by special decree the king was allowed to marry. Anna Koltovskaya, who was an ardent opponent of the oprichnina, became the new wife. Under her, many leaders of the oprichnina were executed or exiled. Perhaps it was precisely such interference in the affairs of the sovereign that led to the end of the marriage, which lasted less than a year (according to some sources, 3 years). The king sent his wife to a monastery under the name of Daria, where she died in 1627. The fifth marriage (according to Kostomarov's research) with Maria Dolgoruka lasted one day. Upon discovering that she was not a virgin, the king ordered her to be drowned in a pond (this marriage usually does not appear in official sources). The sixth marriage with Anna Vasilchikova (1575) lasted several months, falling out of favor, she was exiled to a monastery. The seventh marriage - for love with the widow of the clerk Vasilisa Melentyevna. Her husband was stabbed to death by order of Ivan by the oprichnik so that there would be no obstacles to the marriage. However, after she looked too openly at the handsome man who turned up, the king sent her to a monastery, and ordered the poor man to be executed. And the last - the eighth marriage - with Maria Naga (1580). The wedding was played in accordance with all laws, contrary to the permission of the church. It was her son, Tsarevich Dmitry, who died in Uglich. But in the diseased brain, the decision of a new marriage was already ripening, to strengthen relations with European countries. The wife became unnecessary and was exiled to a monastery.
Ivan the Terrible killed his son. Tsarevich Ivan, like his father, had not one wife, but three. All his wives turned out to be objectionable to his father. On Evdokia Saburova, the tsar married his son at the age of 18, three years later she entered the monastery, and a new bride, Praskeva Solovaya, was found for her son, and soon the monastery was waiting for her. The third wife - Elena Sheremetyeva, most likely was the cause of the discord between the son and the father. According to some sources, Ivan IV beat her for an immodest dress, after which Elena had a miscarriage. Perhaps the king simply did not want this child, since her uncle had already been declared a traitor. The prince stood up for his wife and Ivan the Terrible, in a fit of rage, hit his son with a rod in the temple. The wound turned out to be serious, as a result, Tsarevich Ivan died 10 days later. His death greatly struck and horrified the king himself. He deeply regretted what he had done, and two years later he died himself.
Ivan the Terrible died of poisoning. One of the mysteries of that time was the death of Ivan the Terrible himself. According to some sources, the tsar was strangled by Godunov and Belsky. This version is confirmed by the memories of foreigners and popular rumor. Modern research has only added new conjectures to the disclosure of the mystery. As it turned out, Ivan the Terrible was ill with syphilis, the only cure for which at that time was mercury. It was given to patients in small doses. It is not known how long Ivan the Terrible could take her for his life. Death caused by mercury is painful, and the dose causing such an outcome is very small - less than 0.18 g.
Ivan the Terrible pushed the boundaries of Russia. Ivan IV expanded and united the Russian lands, created a centralized state, thanks to clever politics and the most brutal terror. Having conquered Astrakhan, he pushed the southeastern borders of Russia to the Caspian Sea, conquered the Kazan lands and advanced the northern borders. He made the first, but unsuccessful attempt to access the Baltic Sea.