Ivan the Terrible, formally known as Ivan IV Vasilyevich, was first named “The Grand Price of Moscow” from 1533 to 1547, and then he became “Tsar of All the Russias”, from 1547 until his death.
He was like a fallen angel. Ivan the Terrible started as a very wise ruler, at 17 years old, and ended up as a tyrant devil. Ivan got the nickname “Groznyy” (the Terrible) because he never knew what moderation was: he never forgot any insult, real or imaginary and took great revenge on whoever he thought to have offended him. Also, he hated and loved too fiercely, drank a lot, and laughed too loud.
Facts about Ivan the Terrible
Ivan became Russia‘s leader at only 3 years of age
He was only 3 years old when his father died, but, as he was too young to rule, his mother Elena Glinskaya acted as a regent for five years. After her death, Ivan’s uncle Yuri tried to challenge his rights to the throne, and so he got imprisoned in a dungeon.
Ivan suffered from neglect as a child
With the lack of his nurse, Ivan became more and more lonely. The boyars molested, abused or just neglected him and his deaf-mute brother Yuri, and so they often went hungry and alone. Nobody cared about his health and well-being, so Ivan became a beggar in his own palace. He was only given attention when he was required at a ceremony. Living in poverty, he witnessed murders, beatings and physical and verbal abuse as a regular thing.
Being unable to strike back at his aggressors, he took out his rage and frustrations on helpless animals: He tore, pierced and slit cut birds, threw out puppies from a tower, etc.
And so, his personality was shook forever, as you can see below.
Ivan the terrible ordered the construction of St. Basil’s cathedral
St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow was built to commemorate Ivan’s victories in battle, the seizure of Kazan being the most important. Many say that he was so pleased with it, that wanted no other building to rival it. So, he blinded his architect, Postnik Yakovlev.
He lost his first wife because of him
At age 13, he married Anastasia Zakharina, but he also had a lot of lovers. At first, he showed himself very kind, releasing prisoners from their dungeons, helped the needy and was very courteous.
But, in the third week of his honeymoon, all went back to “normal”: jesters, obscene songs, whores and cruel judgements. Anastasia was the only one who could hold his cruelty in check, but Ivan’s constant insults and disease finally managed to kill her before the age of 30.
Ivan the Terrible took pleasure in torturing his victims
Ivan sentenced a lot of subjects to internal exiled and condemned a lot others to death, along with their families and servants. A lot of victims were tortured, to reconstruct the sufferings of hell. Some of the methods he used were drowning, impaling, strangling, flogging to death, roasting on a spill or frying in large skillets.
Ivan became famous for executing thousands of people, 3000 in Novogorod alone. He even executed members of the Russian Orthodox church.
Even after executing members of the church, Ivan was an orthodox himself. after calming down from his rage moments, he would often ask for forgiveness and offer prayers for those he had executed.
Ivan killed his son
Having such a great temper, Ivan was prone to violent rages. He once beat his son’s wife, causing a miscarriage, and after that, in an argument between him and his son, he struck his son with a staff, causing his death. The following picture shows Ivan hugging and cradling his dying son.
Ivan the Terrible died while playing chess
In 1598, during a chess match against Bogdan Belski, Ivan suffered a stroke and died immediately. After that, Russia was left to his middle son Feodor to rule, but he later died childless in 1598.
We all expect a king, or tsar, to be a kind ruler, and also a story to have a happy ending. But, is it always this way?
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