Many people in history are infamous and yet subjects of great interest. Ivan the Terrible or Ivan IV was one such personality. Born to the lineage of Ivan the Great, Ivan the Terrible has several accomplishments but he is mostly remembered for his flaws and some grave errors which have been attributed to his disorders.
1. The First Czar of Russia
Ivan IV was became the first Tsar, also spelled as Czar, of Russia. Known as Ivan Chetvyorty Vasilyevich, Ivan Grozny, Ivan IV; Ivan Vasilyevich and by his nickname Grozny. Ivan the Terrible ruled Russia from 1533 to 1584. He was the first ruler of a centralized Russia, known as Czar which was a term inspired from Caesar of Ancient Rome. Although his means were not righteous, he was responsible for massive expansions of Russian territory. At one point in time, he ruled the largest nation on the planet and he managed to maintain a completely centralized system of administration. Even the dynasties in China and the likes of Genghis Khan had to rely on governors and representations in their vast kingdoms.
2. Military Conquests
During the ancient times and even during the reign of the various dynasties in China, expansion of European territories or colonies, during the dark medieval age in Europe and the Mongolian dominance in Asia, violence and ruthless approaches to war have always been the cornerstone of military strategy. They have often paved the foundation for rapid expansion, growth of military might and a dominating presence in the lands conquered. Ivan the Terrible was not known as such when he started conquering the lands in control of the khanates. His long reign from 1533 to 1584 was partly solidified when at the early phases of his rule he defeated the khanates of Astrakhan, Kazan and Siberia.
Ivan the Terrible was very intelligent. He had a sharp mind and a penchant for shrewdness. Whether it was the fallout of his complex behavior or his uncontrollable rage was a byproduct of the way his mind worked is unclear.
3. Effective Czar of Muscovy
Ivan the Terrible was then known as Ivan IV when he became the czar of Muscovy. During the early years of his reign, when he was married to Anastasia Romanovna, he proved to be a very effective ruler. He institutionalized several reforms that established self rule or a kind of self governance in rural Russia. He also brought in tax reforms, statutory laws and religious reforms, mostly pertaining to the church. It must be noted that during this time, the Mongols were circling around to usurp more land and had sufficient dominance in lands up to the Baltic Sea. Ivan IV managed to thwart all offensive attempts and he eventually succeeded in conquering those lands that would become an integral part of centralized Russia.
4. Expansion of Russia
Ivan IV had a penchant for expansion, which became evident when he started conquering lands as far as the Urals and the Caspian Sea. It was during this time, from 1552 to 1556, that Ivan IV started becoming more violent in his ways. He wanted to build a buffer zone between Russia and the Mongols.
5. Economic Turmoil
Ivan IV got obsessed with expansions and with the Mongols. In his attempt to establish his reign, he ignored the economy. Although he was vocal about his protection of the orthodox religious beliefs, his support got eroded with time and efforts such as the commissioning of the basilica in Red Square in Moscow did not go down well with the noble families or the influential strategists in the kingdom.
6. The Infamous Breakdown
This cannot be called an achievement but Ivan IV became Ivan the Terrible after his wife’s death. He suffered from depression and became a recluse as a result. Many noble families deserted him and he lost popular support during this mourning phase. He left Moscow and wanted to abdicate the throne, although it is not known if it was a serious threat that he would follow through.
Upon his return, Ivan the Terrible became paranoid. He could not control his anger and ended up executing lawbreakers and traitors. His justice and subsequently his authority were challenged every time he initiated what was seen as an unfair execution. He wouldn’t just execute the traitors and law breakers but also confiscate their properties. Amidst declining popularity and rising intolerance on his part, he started destroying the major noble families in Russia. His misgivings and ill treatments met an unforgivable consequence when he mistakenly killed his own son.
Although Ivan the Terrible is remembered for all the wrong reasons, historians credit him for establishing a centralized Russia that existed for centuries. After his death, the country was in disarray but the existence or Russia as we know it today was established by Ivan IV.