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Ivan the Terrible: an Examination of the Historical Figure

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Ivan was born on August 25, 1530 to Vasily III, who was the Grand Duke of Moscow, and Yelena Clinskaya, his wife. Vasily III died when Ivan was only three years old, and his mother, Yelena, died five years later. As a result of his fathers death, Ivan became the leader of Moscow at the age of three. Although he held a high position was ignored as a young boy. He was living in unsuitable conditions and as a consequence, suffered from malnutrition. It wasn’t until 1547 that he finally got the recognition he deserved. He was crowned in 1547, but wasn’t named the Grand Duke, instead he was titled the Tsar of Russia. In the same year he married his first wife Anastasia and remained married to her until she died in 1560. During the years of their marriage he was extremely happy and shared this euphoria with the people of Russia. Because of this he was very well liked and an extremely constructive leader. He expanded Russia, drew up a new code of law and also started trade with the English, the French, and the Dutch. Not until after Anastasias death did he become the ruthless and terrible leader that he is remembered for.

After her death he tried many times to find the love and happiness that he had with Anastasia, but with no luck, he became a bitter man. He blamed his advisors for the death, and convinced that they were backed by the Boyars, one of the upper classes of Russia, threatened to kill every last one of them if the were not punished. He decided to leave Russia for a short time in 1564. He sent Russia into confusion because they did not know what to do without a leader. They did not know what to do so when they let the confusion take over they began revolting. The people begged him to return but he would only do so if they allowed him to punish all of the people who he thought were responsible for his wife’s death. He formed a group of me called the oprichnina. The group would go around killing all of the Boyar families. If any of them happened to avoid the oprichnina, then they were ruined by Ivans harsh policies. He might have killed as many as 10,000 people before he finally died on March 18 1584. His son Fyodor I was forced to undo what his father had done.

Ivan had many great accomplishments in his life but all of them happened before the death of his wife. He used his great leadership qualities to strengthen Russia in many ways before 1560. In his years of greatness he did things such as appoint an advisory council, start a national assembly, enact reforms in local governments, drew up a new code of law, and standardize the responsibilities and duties of the aristocracy. He also extended Russia to the east beyond the rural mountains. He would have continued to improve Russia over time and make it a great nation, but after the death of his wife he lost his happiness and with that he lost his leadership.

Ivans legacy is not a typical legacy which most people would think of today. He did not leave a legacy of power or of money but instead a legacy of revolts and confusion. He destroyed the nation that he helped to create. Most of his changes after 1560 caused people to begin revolting and destroyed the Russia that so many people before him had created. It was up to his successors to fix all of the huge problems that Russia was facing. His son Fyodor was forced to stop all of the revolts because his father destroyed the nation and left his problems to his son. They had to try to get it back to the original government that they once had.

As the Tsar of Russia, Ivan had the abilities to create or destroy entire countries. In extending Russia or blaming the people of Russia he showed passion in what he was doing. He never stopped the dedication to what he was doing but the devotion just switched from creation to destruction. He should be remembered for his accomplishments not just for his failures.

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