Ivan The Terrible In Russian Historiography Essay


Why Ivan Was not a Centralizing Leader!

Muscovite Imperialism [RU01] 16th Century Russia

By Michael Johnathan McDonald, August 2007.

An ongoing debate in Russian historiography is if that Joseph Stalin had looked back in Russian time and formed his government aspirations and functions predicated upon the workings of the sixteenth century figure of Ivan the Terrible. I intend he did not accomplish that feat. After 1989 and the opening up of the Russian archives, it became clear that Stalin was a ferocious Slavophil – Ivan was never one. Ivan had intermarried with different races and preferred many cultures around him, and even had appeared to be tolerable to outside governance to newly acquired Russian territory. Stalin’s imprisoning of the Russian thieves groups, the speculated and even known genocide of Ukrainian Jews, the ethnic crack-downs, and the total domination of Russia and the turn away from Leninist-Marxism to that of totalitarianism, or how Trotsky saw it, “fascism” despite the social foundations, separates Ivan from Joseph. Irrationalism, much of it coming from Richard Hellie, framing the Russian unexplained actions of the sixteenth century, and the diction of the later nineteenth century Russian academic programs, begs to differ on the very use of this term. Irrationalism was a scientific word in history that explained physical bodies as they related to physical science – not humans. Ivan’s actions cannot be explained because there are no reliable sources – all to most Russian historians agree with this dilemma when explaining the period for Ivan’s IV’s reign. By not having reliable sources, everything that seems strange is placed into the “irrationalism” category. Like a file cabinet of loose-ends, and no directories – something to be looked at in the future. I tend this tells us little and explains less.

PART I:  Sergei Fedorovich Platonov

Sergei Fedorovich Platonov's (1860 – 1933) importance today in part stems from his work Ivan the Terrible. In 1923, Platonov published Ivan Groznyi, a brief book on the history of the period and of the reign of Ivan Vasilievich. An English version, translated by Joseph L. Wieczynski and published in 1974 from the original 1923 Russian version, appeared in the title form of a seventeenth-century popular reference to the tsar, as Ivan the Terrible. This was a seventeenth-century historical moniker or epithet attributed to Ivan the Terrible byforeigners. During Ivan’s reign there were no references to him being called “Ivan the Terrible.” It appeared a creation from popular stories of the Grand Prince of Moscow beginning in the early seventeenth century circulated by foreigners to account to the stupendous tales. Groznyi may be literally translated as “fearsome”. An epithet of the sixteenth century Eurasia can attest to this common theme of fearsome. West of the Ural Mountains and east of the Baltic region and north of the Steppe and South of the Artic Ocean lay a fearsome geographical area which saw winters dip in well below freezing temperatures and, the ground remained difficult to till well into the spring due to frozen earth. The climate was fearsome, the people fearsomely proud, and the gathering land program conducted by the grand princes of Moscow had a reputation of instilling fearsomeness’ against  the traditional autonomies of the principalities memorialized in Kievan Rus’ era. Kievan Rus’ was destroyed by the Mongol-Tatars in various incursions in early thirteenth century, but the memories and some Kievan political systems did live on to see the beginning of the consolidation of Muscovy. The gathering of lands around Moscow had its official program proclaimed with Ivan III’s patrimonial pursuits which annexed Novgorod in 1478 and the subjugation of Tver’ in 1485. During the process, the legendary Veche Bell was carted-off to the Kremlin. This symbolically signified the transfer of the Kievan Rus’ heritage to the new imperialists, the grand princes of Moscow. However, a more accurate assessment began with Ivan Kalita.

Duke Ivan Daniilovich of Moscow (1301-1341), called Kalita ("Moneybag"), was the actual founder of the Muscovite state. In 1328, now Prince Ivan Daniilovich of Moscow (Ivan I Kalita) became the grand prince of Vladimir. He won the right to implement Russian taxes, and collect the official tax for the Mongol-Tatars (the iarlyk: tax collecting for the Khan). The Khanate at Sarai demanded a flat annual income tax-rate for all Rus’ lands they governed. As long as the Khan received his flat-rate share, Mongybag’s could pocket the remainder of collected taxes. Instead of being selfish by exploiting the Rus’ taxpayers and hording the money, he began a program to pay for hostages to win their freedom from the various Khanates in the east and to purchase land for the Rus’ Church and for the Rus’ people. In this way, he spread his influence over a considerable part of the land between the Oka and Volga rivers and won the respect and admiration of the people. The people  ( around this area) rewarded this effort by accepting a new Rirukids dynastic line called the Grand Princes of Moscow.

The Birth of St. Sergius of Radonezh in 1314 of whom the future saint would form an alliance with the grand princes of Moscow contributed to the binding of the church and the state,  together with common causes. One of these causes resulted in the battle of Kulikovo in 1380, in which the Grand Prince Dmitrii Ivanovich (Donskoi) defeated Mamai, to which some historians claim began the turning of the tide to what has been called the Mongol-Tatar Yoke period -- which ended in 1452 (Vernadsky’s period). Territorial expansion to North and Baltic areas indicated a freedom of movement and the ability to colonize. However, it also indicated opportunity to consolidate a chosen area west of the Urals for a seat of governance reminiscing of memories of a semi-unified Kievan Rus’. This would become Moscow.

Collecting the ecclesiastical jurisdiction to Moscow in 1354 by moving the seat of the metropolitan from Vladimir to Moscow (Alexis (1296?-1387), birth name, Eleutherius, son of Fyodor (Theodore) Biakont, canonized  orthodox, 1448, revered as 'one of the' patron Saint of Moscow; worship dates, May 20 (uncovering of his relics) and on October 5 th), Constantinople and the Church played a part in unifying a new Muscovy central authority;); [M1] a rampant search for foreign architects and artists and regional craftsmen to come to Moscow and build great Cathedrals and building, decorate them with brilliant frescos to infuse a regional and an international synthesis to Moscow  -- all to awe the people, beginning in the 1470s ( From this person); and the gathering of Russian lands program officially recognized in 1478, all facilitated a Muscovite important step in consolidating territorial power and fusing a dominant political legitimacy -- to all who took notice.

Grand Prince Vasilii III  (r. 1505 - ‘33) annexed Pskov in 1510, then captured Smolensk 1514, and in 1512 annexed Ryazan’. Then in 1526 Vasilii III marries Elena Glinskaya, after tonsuring his first wife Solomonia Yur’evna (née Saburov) for bareness in 1525.  He  sent Solomonia to the Rozhdestvensky convent in Moscow and was then sent to the Pokrovsky convent in Suzdai’.[1] The couple have a baby in 1530 (August 25?, Moscow?), the future first Tsar of Muscovy, Ivan Vasilievich. Marriage/politics were the heart of these rulership apparatus of the grand princes of Moscow. Many sources refereing to deathbed scenes of grand princes of Moscow admit to the co-rulership between the grand prince and the boyars (a small inner royal circle of family members and relatives who owned large tracts of land, and planned on keeping their control in power by unifying with the grand prince) This bereft and romanticized picture of the rise of Moscow and the Grand Princes of Moscow only tell part of the story of the circumstances and pressures surrounding Ivan Vasilievich.  

The implicitly surrounding the Mongolian-Tatar title of tsar brought a connotative historical relevance to his reign and Muscovy. Platonov would take us further to understand the continuing centralization of Muscovite central authority and illustrate how the “gathering of the Russian lands” around Moscow moved into a new era unknown to the Rus’ people of their time.  We know the modern term as imperialism. And by the time Ivan reached his majority, the force and continuum of the gathering of lands program around Moscow,  with the introduction of mining technology, firearms and mimicking successful Mongolian war tactics, Muscovy began a series of attempts to expand its lands far beyond the traditional Kievan Rus’ boarders.

Attempting to annex lands that were never traditionally theirs during the Kievan Rus’ period, the Muscovite central authority brought recriminations and ramifications by which they never anticipated. Platonov shows in text, using his new scientific method of using all the source material at his disposal, these incidences and consequences of expanding an unofficial empire when a group is too small -- not ready and over confident -- resulted in a devastation to Muscovy, a dynastic crisis, a beginning trend toward seventeenth century serfdom and led to the Time of Troubles.


Born on June 16 (28) 1860, Platonov would become the preeminent Russian historian after Vasily O. Kliuchevsky (1841-1911) had passed. Platonov was a grandson of a serf and his father was a painter. The family relocated to St. Petersburg where Platonov received a first rate education. He completed studies at St. Petersburg University at the age of twenty-two and went on to become a Private –dotsent at the University in 1888. That year he published his master’s dissertation, “Old Russian Tales and Stories about the Time of Troubles of the Seventeenth Century as an Historical Source.” This period became life long process and he updated and added too this work a few revised and new interpretations. This could be explained by his translating many vital and conflicting prime sources of the period. This also explained his rise in importance of recognition to academic and government positions.


As his doctoral dissertation, Platonov in 1899 presented his magnificent “Essays on the History of the Time of Troubles in the Muscovite State in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries,” which appeared in three editions prior to the Revolution, and again in 1937 in the Soviet Union.[2] The 1901 edition used methodologies similar to Ivan the Terrible. Here Hellie will discuss his student years and how they affected his writings. He taught at the St. Petersburg Women’s Pedagogical Institute (1903-1916), when during this time he became the director and taught lessons constructed from his mentor, K.N. Bestuzhev-Riumin.

In his memoirs of his student years (1878-82) at St. Petersburg University, entitled “Nesko’ko vospominanii o studencheskikh godakh’ (Several Reminiscenses of Student Years), published in Dela I dni ( Deeds and days), no. 2 (1921), pp. 104-133, Platonov gave a very candid description of his professors and his peers, of the process of his intellectual formation. Altering his initial plans to specialize in literature because of the unattractiveness of the faculty, Platonov fell under the spell of K.N. Bestuzhev-Riumin, the positivist founder of the St. Petersburg school of historiography, whose members fundamentally adhered to the dictum of A.L. Schloetzer that it was too early to write history, that it was necessary to study the sources first. Other scholars, however, had a greater impact on Platonov’s career. The great legal historian, V.I. Sergeevich, introduced him to the study of legal institutions, and to the outstanding juridicial historian of the West, A.D. Gradovskii, taught him to think about the relations between the state and society, the rights of the individual and the value of personal freedom. [ Not Hellie tells us Platonov was not a moralist, when writing about Ivan IV; although, Hellie only mentions this because of his own moral outlook regarding the Tsar’s strange actions] This created tension between Platonov and Bestuzhev-Riumin, who outside the classroom was the darling of the St. Petersburg Slavophiles and nationalists, and led the professor to claim that Platonov was really the student of Sergeevich and Gradovskii. Platonov denied that Sergeevich had a significant impact on him and claimed that he was more influenced by the methods and techniques of the medievalist-Byzantinist V.G. Vasil’evskii, under whose guidance he began his scientific work. During his student years, Platonov also became infactuated with the leader of the Moscow school of historiograghy, V. O. Kliuchevskii, and the architectonic schemes of Russian history. The influence of his teachers was evident in his candidate’s essay on the Assembly of the Land (Zemskie sober), which was accepted by E.E. Zamyslovskii and later published in summery form in the Zhurnal Ministerstva narodnogo prosveshcheniia ( Journal of the Ministry of Public Education), CCXXVI (March, 1883), pp. 1-20.[3]


He tutored some royal heirs (1895-1902). Platonov's History of Russia a leading textbook, which was used in Russian high schools and universities for more than two decades before the revolution, attest to his ability of scholarly acceptance among the Russian educated community.[4] These popular textbooks, according to Hellie, notwithstanding their strongly monarchist bent, helped to shape the outlooks of two generations of Russian students.[5] 

Platonov’s History of Russia (8 eds. 1909-1916, reprinted in Buenos Aires, 1945; abridged, 4 eds., 1914-17) and Lectures of Russian History (10 eds., 1899-1917; reprinted , 1967) were respectively the leading high school and university textbooks in the Russian Empire for more than two decades. They continued in use in the early years of Soviet power because of the absence of suitable alternatives. To retain perspective, his texts ended some decades before their publication date, although his coverage  did reach the Revolution in a 1929 French edition (Historire de la Russie des origines a 1918; Paris). Platonov’s texts were known for their stylistic clarity, restraint and objectivity[6]

( what actually led?) This led to an election as corresponding member of Russian Academic Sciences in 1908, and a full member in 1920. Platonov held many positions in the early stages of the Soviet period.

During the Soviet Period:

“Platonov continued to teach at Petrograd University and to hold important offices in the early Soviet Period. He was one of the Soviet experts at the Riga peace treaty negotiations with Poland in 1920, where a major issue was the Russian Public Library, which was based on collections looted from Poland after the Catherinean partitions of Poland. The Poles wanted the collection back, but Platonov worked out deals whereby the Soviets could keep them (A bit later he edited Vol. II of a publication of Polish documents form the era of the partitions, entitled Memoires du roi Stanislas-Auguste Ponaitowski, published at St. Petersburg in 1924). Platonov also worked hard to save the archives from destruction during the early years of the Soviet power. He was rector of the Archaeological Institute and head of the Archaeograghic Commission (1918-29) and the Commission on the Publication of the Works of A.S. Pushkin (1928-[till exile]). From May, 1919 to November, 1922 he was chairman of the Union of Russian Archive Workers, from which he was expelled at the demand of the Communist Party. He was also chief of the Scholarly Commission for Research on the History of Labor in Russia (1912-24), an adjunct of the Petrograd Council of Trade Unions, which published the journals Arkhiv istorii truda v Rossii (Archive of the Hsitory of Labor in Russia) and then trud v Rossii (Labor in Russia). An active lecture of historical subjects in the House of Writers, Platonov was also director of the Pushkin House of the Institute of Russian Literature of the Academy of Sciences in Leningrad (1925-29). In 1928, on the occasion of the centenary of the proposal by P.M. Stroev to organize the first document-collecting expedition throughout Russia, Platonov delivered a talk on “The Meaning of the Archaeograghic Expedition in Russian Historiography. “ It was a fitting swansong for the leader of the St. Petersburg school of historiography.”[7]

It was during the Soviet period that Platonov published Ivan the Terrible, and continued to revise and add onto his life’s work on the Time of Troubles.

Platonov was honored by two Festschrifts: To Sergei Fedorovich Platonov: Pupils, Friends, and Admirers (1911, reprinted 1970) and Collection of Articles on Russian Dedicated to S.F. Platonov (1922), which begins a list of 98 of Platonov’s works.
After the Revolution Platonov published a number of shorter works. Besides the work presented in translation here, issued in 1923, in 1921 he published a short biography, Boris Godunov (published 1973 in English translation by Academic International Press), treating a central figure in the Time of Troubles. Next, he wrote a transitional article on the development of serfdom with the title “On the easily convey Time and Measures of the Binding of Peasants to the Land more varied in Muscovite Russia” (Archive of the History of Labor in Russia, 1922, Book 3). In this essay he attempted to reconcile  the old “nondecree interpretation” of enserfment with and phrases recently discovered evidence pointing to active state involvement in this process. Then, in 1925, he published Moscow and the West (printed in English translation in 1972 by Academic International Press) wherein he discussed Russia’s return to Western civilization in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, after the “detour to the East” during the Mongol conquest.


With the introduction of the first five-year plan (1928-36) when the Soviet party believed they gained social control, Platonov was no longer desired as a historian. A lack of self expression to promote communism and socialism in place of scholarship integrity possibly added to the reason for Platonov's banishment from Soviet society. His works were reviewed and found wanting in interpretation. Although Stalin’s academic review board stated they had appreciated Platonov’s careful attention to the sources, the board found his interpretations unsatisfactory. One such reason could have been his unfavorable sources and statements in Ivan Groznyi. However, speculatory this opinion of mine is, the fact that Platonov does place pathologies and negative moral judgment on the Tsar attest to my claim [ contrary to Hellie’s]


 In January 1930 Platonov was arrested along with twenty other academics. For twenty months he endured interrogation and humilities.  He spent the last years of his life exiled in Samara (now Kuibyshev) on the Volga where he died of malnutrition, a possible cause of a heart-attack at age 73. Here Hellie describes only some of the allegations’ charged against him.


Even though he was a conservative monarchist, Platonov continued to hold important posts under the new Soviet government. He was head of the Archaeographic Commission (1918-1929), director of the prestigious Push- kin House of the Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Russian Literature (1925-29), and director of the library of the Academy of Sciences (1925-28). Ultimately these positions contributed to his downfall. Notwithstanding his prestige, Platonov was removed from his posts at the beginning of the Stalin Revolution. He was accused of illegally keeping archival materials of great state importance, including the Abdication Act of Nicholas II. Subsequently it was alleged that he had been part of a monarchist plot to overthrow Soviet power and place Grand Duke Andrei Viadimirovich on the Russian throne. The great literary critic and genius, R.I. Ivanov-Razumnik, reported seeing Platonov after his arrest. The dean of pre-Soviet historiography had been subjected to utter humiliation. Thereafter Platonov was exiled to Samara (now Kuibyshev) on the Volga, where he died.


Hellie considers Platonov’s favorite tsar to be Boris Goudonov,  his favorite era as the Time of Troubles, and his favorite region as Northern Russia. What should be considered is that Platonov believed the source of the Time of Troubles began with Ivan Vasilievich’s death.


Platonov’s memoirs [two extracts are found in Russian journals published by Platonov of his student years] expressed his life-long suspicion of materialism, his aversion to political life and party organization, and his inability to function effectively in collective enterprises. In 1920 that can only have been a gauntlet thrown in the face of the victorious Bolsheviks. Nevertheless, V.I. Nevskii, one of the leaders of the People’s Commissariat of Education, called Platonov “a precious porcelain” worthy of careful preservation. In spite of the new regime, Platonov persisted in his belief [according to Hellie here] that the activities of individuals were the front of progress of all society [ this sentence sets up his argument for the rationalization of the Oprichnina argument against Platonov!]. This tenet may [ my italics] have motivated his writing of several popular biographies in the 1920s. Boris Godunov) Petrograd, 1921) may have been Platonov’s favorit historical figure, a tragic individual who could not hold back the tide of the Time of Troubles (translated by L. Rex Pyles, Academic International Press, 1973); Platonov defended Boris against charges that he had murdered young Tsarevich Dimitrii [who couldn’t rule anyway according to Orthodoxy statutes] and took comfort in the fact that Boris helped to assure the Westernization of Russia [Platonov who translated the seventeenth century Russian secretary Ivan Timofeev’s diaries, possibly was influenced by the secretaries “intense” distain for the Tatar born Tsar, who was subject to racial instances during his reign, he was trained and part of Ivan and Fedor’s courts and so well capable to handle the position of tsar]. In Ivan Grozyni (Petrograd, 1923; translated by Joseph L. Wieczynski as Ivan the Terrible; Academic International Press, 1974), Platonov tried to rationalize many of Ivan’s actions, especially the Oprichnina. His Petr Velikii (Petrograd, 1926; Paris, 1927) took the standard line of those who know something about the seventeenth century: Peter the Great was not a “Tsar-revolutionary;” his reign introduced nothing radically new, although his personality did determine the direction and nature of the reforms. Adhering to a tenet of the Moscow School, Platonov portrayed his Tsars as strongmen who served the state not private, clan, or class interests. [ the last point can be linked to my classism sub-theme above and in Andrei Kurbskii-IvanVasilievich correspondence class interest was a theme, Platonov showed, of Ivan addressing the common people of Rus’ for their desires and the Tsar raise them to a higher position in the government, and subsequently gave them more social and economic  power.]. Tsars were major creators of the historical process, although at times they were overwhelmed by events [ this is an astute and balanced statement].[8]


A clarification of Platonov’s discovery of facts merits attention. Platonov is accredited with translating from Old Slavonic into nineteenth century Russian many historical Russian documents from the sixteenth and the seventeenth century concerning Muscovy and Rus’. ( among the many other translation jobs and posts he attended too during his long academic career.). He translated many prime sources which came to be the sources for all Russian historians to refer and to interpret, in the period of the Time of Troubles. Ivan Timofeev (?-1631), a secretary in the Great Russian Chancery, author of a Journal (Vremennik) that is an important primary source for the history of Russia during the Time of Troubles, was translated by Platonov.[9]  

In 1923 Platonov published in Petrograd a condensed version of his book on the Time of Troubles, entitled Ocherk istorii vnutrnngeo krizisa I obshchestvennoi bor’by v Moskovskom gosudarstve XVI I XVII vekov, translated by John T. Alexander as The Time of Troubles: A Historical Study of the Internal Crisis and Social Struggle in Sixteenth-and-Seventeenth-Century Muscovy (Lawrence, Kansas, 1970), which was followed in 1924 by a collection of documents of the subject: Sotsial’nyi krizis smutnogo vremeni (The Social Crisis of the Time of Troubles). In his early work on the Time of Troubles Platonov followed the Kliuchevskii-M.A. D’iakonov-P.N. Miliukov interpretation of the enserfment of the peasantry; but in Boris Godunov and then in a special article, “O vremeni I merakh prikrepleniia krest’ian k zemle v Moskovskoi Rusi” (On the Time and Methods of Binding the Peasants to the Land in Muscovite Russia), published in Arkhiv istorii truda v Rossi (Archive of the History of Labor in Russia), III (1922),pp. 18-22, he advanced a new interpretation, using the evidence of the “forbidden years.”[10]

Finally, Hellie gives us a hint of how difficult and how exemplary Platonov was to him. This may be Hellie’s motive for reviewing his biography and contributing two short biographies, one in Ivan the Terrible (1974), and one in the “Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History”, 1982.

It should be mentioned that Platonov, while not considering himself a great literateur, was a master of the Russian language. The art of Platonov’s writing style is not easily conveyed in translation. His lexicon was far richer, more varied and more specific than that of any Soviet historian of whom I am aware. In addition, his writing is distinguished by the frequent and telling inclusion of terms and phrases drawn from the period under examination. These are extremely difficult to render into modern Russian, not to say English. That the translator [ Joseph L. Wieczynski] has succeeded so well in this treacherous task is a tribute to his skill.[11]

PART III Historiography


Historiography on Ivan Vasilievich can be viewed like a point on a circle that progresses in one direction around that circle, eventually encompassing the circle. If we define the circle as the objective plane of historiography on Ivan Vasilievich, we can define the progressive point as historians’ view of Ivan. Beginning on one point, or a starting point, on a circle and then progressing in one direction and encompassing the circumference of that circle, the views of Ivan have come to a complete cycle. Ivan was a madman, then a statement (sane man), and then back to a madman. Using Platonov’s historiography in Ivan then using Hellie’s historiography on Ivan, we see the complete cycle. Historical interpretation on the sixteenth century tsar marked three distinct periods in Russian history. Ivan had come full circle in Russian historiography.

First, from verbal accounts of foreigners who entered Russia discourse after the Tsar’s passing to the later decades of the nineteenth century, accounts of Ivan Vasilievich by foreign commentators and Russian historians marked the leader as a madman or a mentally derange leader. This was in fact an overall negative view on Muscovy. Second, with the advent of colleting the Russian historical sources then studying them during the later decades of the nineteenth century then onto the early to mid-twentieth century, pre-Soviet and Soviet historians’ began to use critical analysis of prime sources to offer a different conclusion. Now Ivan was an important figure in Russian history, a statesman who encountered the challenges of his day. This was in fact an over all positive view on Muscovy. Third and finally, from the middle of the twentieth century to current Russian writings on the Tsar, post- soviet historians reshaped the historiography on Ivan Vasilievich and returned it to the first period analyses. This was in fact an overall negative view on Muscovy.  Ivan had come full circle.

If we associate the first and third periods we come to an astounding conclusion. Epistemological conquest by foreigners becomes evident. Russian born Russians historians made up the dearth of Muscovite literature in the second period. Platonov was a part of the second period. The first historical or more aptly, popular history on Ivan became with negative discourse in Livonia, then many western states who had heard of the strange happenings in Muscovy in the sixteenth century. Ivan Grozyni, more literally termed as ‘Ivan the fearsome,’ took on a moniker of “terrible.” Although Giles Fletcher, and English diplomat who visited Muscovy a few years after Ivan Vasilievich had died, contradicted this view.  Ivan was an intelligent man Fletcher heard through various stories and commentary by Muscovites imparted to him while he was in Muscovy awaiting an audience with Tsar Fedor to discuss England’s trade opportunities.

Many westerners’ heard tales Tsar Ivan’s actions from people who had journeyed to the west after living in Muscovy. These tales, many were hearsay; all became part of a myth of a terrible beast who ruled over the eastern Orthodox land and had nearly destroyed the Muscovite state in a move to become an autocrat. In addition, and over two centuries, Ivan began to take on a mythic persona of a man totally insane by both western writers and Rus’ writers. In efforts to achieve autocracy, these myths claimed, Ivan had to suppress the traditional Muscovite elite to centralize of power around the office of the tsar.  He suppressed the traditional Muscovite elite by conducting a murderous campaign against his enemies. This was part of the first period of Ivan historiography and can be termed as the popular historian period.

These popular projections of the tsar made themselves into early Russian historiography on the Muscovite leader. Placing a balanced view back into Ivan historiography demonstrated one of Platonov’s motives in writing the short book on the leader. After Platonov and many Soviet historian’s placed a positive and/or balanced view back into Ivan historiography, many post-Soviet historians completed the first period of the popular-history cycle by completing the Ivan historiographic circle  --  of bring negativity back to Ivan Vasilievich literature. In order to accomplish this, a different and even confusing terminology needed inclusion in Ivan Vasilievich  literature to veil the negativity while communicating it to their academic elite.


Platonov's work on Ivan in 1923 could have been a rebuff of R. Yu. Wipper's first edition in 1922 on the Tsar. Wipper, according to Platonov, over emphasized the positive characteristics of the tsar. More importantly, Platonov emphasized R. Yu. Wipper had brought to the historiography of Ivan Vasilievich a leader who should be emulated for his leadership abilities. Wipper concluded Ivan was responsible for Muscovite government policy, including reforming the Church and local administration, and “was a powerful force in Russian politics.”[12] Platonov explained Ivan understood the world was moving forward in a new political direction, and therefore the Tsar took the initiative to express the Muscovite government toward this new political direction. Platonov would show the significance of this trend in Chapter one.

Everyone who familiarizes himself with the entire body of new research on the history of the sixteenth century in Russia gains this same impression. The latest historian of Ivan the Terrible, Professor R. Yu. Wipper, begins his work on Ivan with precisely this attitude toward his subject. But having used everything that recent Russian historiography has to offer him, Wipper adds something of his own. At the beginning of his study he presents a general characterization of the sixteenth century as a turning-point in the eternal struggle between “nomadic Asia” and “the Europeans,” a point when the latter began to realize success in this world-wide struggle. From this universal historical viewpoint Professor Wipper offers an appreciation not only of Muscovite policy in the sixteenth century but specifically of Ivan himself. “As part of the new political world of Europe, he wrote, “the Muscovite government had to develop military and administrative skills, as well as dexterity in strategic warfare. Tsar Ivan, his collaborators and his followers continued to play their difficult role with dignity.” In recording the activity of sixteenth-century Russia against the background of the general course of political life in Europe and Asia, Wipper is not chary in his praise of Russian political and military expertise of this time and regards Ivan a major historical figure. Professor Wipper’s book can be called not only Ivan’s apology, but his apotheosis. Even when Ivan is appraised apart from his own national history and is set against an international backdrop, Wipper shows that he was an extremely important figure.
            This is the latest word that our historical literature has to offer concerning Ivan. We can no longer regard Ivan’s character with contempt. But perhaps the scales have shifted somewhat in the opposite direction; scholars now face the task of striking an exact balance between the extremes of the subjective evaluations portrayed above. The present study will not presume to play the role of umpire between these various opinions of Ivan the Terrible.

Its objective is to present the “image” of Ivan that was formed in the author’s mind during his study of the most significant historical material of the period under discussion. In a brief essay many things must he stated superficially or even passed over in silence. But the author will be gratified if his reader derives from this work a firm appreciation of the great moments of the life and work of Ivan the Terrible, as well as of certain undeniable and verified features of his character and his mind. The author has no pretention [ sic. Engl. styl.] of recreating a complete characterization of Ivan or a finished likeness of the man, for he believes it quite impossible to do so.[13]


The last sentence speaks to all future Russian historians or investigators on the subject of evaluation sixteenth century Muscovite politics and addressing the various sources. To place a view into the mouth of S.F. Platonov would be to ignore an investigation to his claim above. Thusly to do so, it would be reinventing something that was never invented in the first place. Another factor could be  persons wanting to see what they desire. The contradictions in Platonov’s Ivan Groznyi are astounding. This explains why interpretations, investigations and stories of the Tsar vary considerably. One can only appreciate this by acknowledging Platonov’s above claim and understanding us as historians, investigators or the curious, will never know the whole story of the sixteenth-century Muscovite people or Ivan Vasilievich. However, it remains critical to represent another historians’ work with attentive accuracy. Platonov did not over use one school of thought in Ivan the Terrible as Hellie supposes. What remains clear about the sources are they are flawed to a point that cherry-picking must be divulged, instead of claiming hand-picked phrases are facts, while the other phrases are not, and showing both sides of the sources. Platonov was a master at showing both sides of the story, in Ivan the Terrible. However, it is safe to say, until further Muscovite prime sources come to light and are universally accepted as non-bias and favorably factual, we must conclude and accept this unfortunate fate. Claiming this author is wrong or his or her view is wrong under such circumstances stated above, is quite non -constructive and only serves as a crutch for a self-claimed scholastic reputation.


The methodological similarities to his doctoral dissertation in 1901, the Ocherki[M2] , and Ivan the Terrible, described a Russian historian not loyal to his school of origin. In his College doctorial dissertation, Platonov used both the Scientific- methodology of the school of St. Petersburg and the Moscow school of broad historical approaches. Nevertheless, Platonov retained much of the St. Petersburg school methodology.3 In 1923, Platonov published Ivan Groznyi. In Ivan Groznyi as in Ocherki, he divided up the era into major parts and subdivided themes into "moments." In Ivan the Terrible Platonov divided up his text into four major parts on Ivan’s era and subdivided themes within these parts into what has been termed "moments." Chapter Igives us Ivan the Terrible in Russian Historiography. The sub-themes, “moments” and the narrative do not begin until Chapter II, called Ivan’s First Period.


From Prince Mikhail Shcherbatov's History of Russia to R. Yu Wipper's Ivan Grozny, Platonov acknowledged Ivan and his times had passed through a number of stages. The most important of these stages occurred after the 1880s and resulted in a separation of Russian school’s of thought. Platonov tells us the separation resulted in “two schools of thought concerning Ivan and two ways of evaluating him.”4 First, this could be explained by the negative evaluation of Ivan beginning with M.M. Shcherbatov (1733-90), which eventually transformed into positive evaluations of Ivan by the time he began his work on Ivan IV.  

The negative evaluations also demonized the Russian ruler to the point of absurdity. Platonov believed Ivan had a level of intelligence. He was the leader and the boyars did put him into a room and keep him there. Hypothetically, Platonov would ask ‘why would the boyars and princes keep a leader so mentally handicapped on the throne, and then record him as the main promoter of government measures – throughout his life?’ Platonov understood two extreme points of view were now splitting Russian historians into two camps.

Platonov explains the negative evaluations of Ivan ranged from a confused leader or ignorant man to a man displacing pathological behavior and various malformations of insanity. Platonov did not believe Ivan was mentally incapacitated. This could explain his assertion Ivan was not Insane, a possible connotation to the work in his own period. Platonov makes an observation that others have noted of a possible “persecution mania” as part of the multiple explanatory attempt to describe Ivan’s actions as a possible pathological explanation. In post-Soviet historians, such as Hellie, this explains a modern form of insanity, most likely treatable with medication and routine physician care.


 However, the positive evaluations ranged from, Ivan as a capable leader to a leader that solved all the state's problems. Platonov's contemporaries, Pokrovsky S.V. Bakhrushin (1882-1950), I.I. Smirnov (1909-65), and R.YU. Wipper (1859-1954), all idolized Ivan IV.  “Soloviev endorsed despotism of Ivan’s reign, particularly the tsar to strengthen the new middle service class at the expense of the old boyar class.”[14] ( The interpretation is not incorrect, but one feels Hellie’s condemnation in textual analysis to this interpretation, this is what the sources claimed) ( add more positive here)


 Concerned over this trend, Platonov wrote “perhaps the scales have shifted somewhat in the opposite direction; scholars now face the task of striking an exact balance between the extremes of the subjective evaluations portrayed above.”[15]He wanted to bring a balanced characterization of Ivan back into historical literature. What concerns us is Hellie’s attempt to ignore this claim. Hellie’s general interpretation of the methodology of Platonov was  an author espousing a continual “rational causality” toward some of Ivan’s actions. It appears Hellie ignored this passage on purpose, because Platonov placed a negative (irrational in Hellie’s use of comparative terminology) view of the tsar back into Ivan historiography. Again, Stalin’s scholastic review board would not have approved on some of the condescending tonality by some of Platonov’s selection to the sources. [ note, not at Platonov’s view, but his source selection] Some of these views, such as one of his themes on Ivan’s cowardness, strike parallels to Stalin’s inadequacy in social justice and the negative extreme seen in the first period of Ivan historiography.


Two schools of thought expressed Platonov’s period of Russian historiography and educational background, according to Hellie.  His use of the scientific method would stress reconstructing the facts and attributing considerable significance to these acts of individuals.  Platonov followed in the footsteps of  mentor K.N. Bestuzhev-Riumin and others at The St. Petersburg school of Russian historiography. This school, with Platonov's initiative, slowly developed along the lines of scientific investigation.  In respect, the shining achievement had drawn to a close with " decisive victories of the scientific method " Platonov claimed. He looked at the main historical sources of his period-- collection of chronicles, cadastres and official material that had survived fires and other catastrophes.6 This process of looking at all the sources gave a new impression of sixteenth century. First, instead of focusing on Ivan as the lone agent, that is looking at his actions and his character as the lone historical agent in the creation of Muscovy, these sources revealed social, political and economic information. Second, friends and critics, in which he had many, agreed he was an influential Russian linguist. Not only did he have a deep mastery of many Russian historical dialects, but he had an appreciation for discernment and a wherewithal for skepticism. Hellie claimed Platonov’s “lexicon was far richer, more varied and more specific than that of any Soviet historian of whom I am aware.”[16] Platonov grasped the language of the sources. He could understand the complexities of the reforms, the land and people surveys,  and therefore conduct a clearer picture of the period—then his predecessors. This can explain Hellie’s admiration to the scholar and this work, even when he interjects some the scholar’s interpretive problems.


Following the notion that Platonov did not stick to one school of thought, Hellie tells us Platonov acknowledged early influences of Kliuchevsky who followed S. M. Solov'ev (1820-1879), both part of the Moscow ‘juridical’ and 'statist school.'  This school developed along the lines of a broad understanding of the nature of historical processes.[17] Platonov tell us Solov'ev’s ideas fostered a positive figure out of Ivan Vasilievich who became a bearer of the state ' principle.'[18]  Hellie’s terminology does not address Platonov’s terminology. Furthermore, Hellie interjects a misused Classic Greek term “ rationality” into Platonov’s Russian historiography.  It is this term which causes confusion, and is explained in this paper. Consequently, Kliuchevskii understood that Ivan was pitting the Oprichinki against his enemies, not only the traditional rulers and the princely class. He, according to Hellie, claimed the Oprichnina was politically pointless. Ivan has focused his suppression against individuals, not systems. However, since I have not read a translation of his work, I can only guess there was more to this observation by Kliuchevskii then offered by Hellie. If Ivan was suppressing “individuals” then there was a purpose to creating a personal army for Ivan. It would have been more difficult to command the general army, supposedly under the auspices of the Boyar Duma, ( or the traditional rulers in the case of Hellie’s understanding of rule in Muscovy, he belived the boyar Duma a long purported myth) and to enact personal decision making toward anyone individual. Furthermore, Muscovite record keeping remains suspect to true accountability. In the mid-sixteenth century, Historians claim the government controlled the sources, beginning roughly during Ivan’s reign. One needs to understand Ivan is not depicted well in the official sources. If Ivan had any control of the official sources, then why paint him in a very bad light in the sources? Why not propose his cause and justify his actions? It appears Platonov’s statements of Ivan’s of redaction and addition, allegedly, to the official chronicles possibly meant he did not have total control of record keeping. He possibly made an attempt at some time to correct passages, but failed to complete the process. (this will be covered later on).


In Hellie’s interpretation of Soloviev, he stated,   “Soloviev endorsed despotism of Ivan’s reign, particularly the tsar to strengthen the new middle service class at the expense of the old boyar class.”[19] The interpretation by Soloviev does not contradict the sources, but Hellie’s condemnation of the author’s interpretation and in lieu the flawed sources reflect the Chicago’s professor’s preference to interpret Ivan’s character as “totally insane.” In the sources, there are no contradictory claims to Platonov’s or Soloviev’s observation.  Ivan solved problems of the state. The Rus’ and Muscovite tradition of co-rulership with the boyar Duma placed in these two author’s minds a second in importance in lieu of international implications cited in this paper during the Oprichnina.


Platonov suggested a reconstruction on the reign of Ivan after witnessing Soloviev’s over positive assessment on Ivan’s actions.  The evidence of negative quotes against Ivan in the Kurbskii correspondence and History, and the demonstration of Ivan’s actions toward the editing of the official chronicles,  indicates Hellie’s thesis suggested Platonov continued a positive view of Ivan’s actions. This may have been due in part  to one condition overlooked or ignored by Hellie.  Platonov remained cautious of his treatment. He wrote, "The present study will not presume to play the role of umpire between the various opinions of Ivan the Terrible" 10 In addition, and cumbersome not only to Hellie but to many post-Soviet scholars, Platonov stated he formed only an "image" of Ivan. An image is not a view nor did Platonov elucidate his claim. Platonov like the first histories on Ivan, placed two “images” on the tsar into the story.   

Hellie appears to have concentrated on Platonov’s Ivan Historiography in chapter one, but refused to acknowledge a key statement by Platonov in regards to any given point of view. Platonov stated, “[I]t is clearly impossible to compose a serious and factually complete biography of Ivan the Terrible.”[20]  In Planotov’s assessment on Ivan, as well as his in-depth Russian historiography on Ivan Vasilievich in this book, the contradictions surrounding the sixteenth-century leader began as early as the first writers on the topic of Muscovy in the sixteenth century. These contradictions in the prime sources led to a split in the Ivan historiography and formed two views on Ivan – often both views overlap each other and historians contradict themselves – in a hopeless search to reveal the past. Hellie believed, and stated in his introduction, there were enough facts in the official sources to imply a logical assessment.


Statements: Post-Soviet Russian historians apologize for socialist/communist Soviet Russia by placing blame of Stalin’s unproductive measures upon a sixteenth century Muscovite leader, Ivan Vasilievich. Post-Soviet historians rectify their socialist tendencies to offset blame of the actions of Joseph Stalin and onto the actions of Ivan Vasilievich in order to justify their support of the Soviet Socialism (under the term Communism). They contend Soviet socialism could have worked if Stalin did not idolize Ivan’s actions – in which the Soviet leader was influenced by pre-Soviet and early Soviet historians. They showed Ivan to have taken the matters of government into his own hands and to have formed a private army in order to weaken the boyars and princes who were traditional rulers of Muscovy. Subsequently, Stalin had to form a personal army that suppressed those who stood in his way to dictatorship and a program to industrialize Russia. In the sixteenth-century comparisons, these traditional leaders and upper-class of Muscovy were shown to be corrupted and outdated—they opposed Ivan and his reforms. A rare period in Rus’ history had shown in the sources clan instability. During Ivan’s minority, the co-ruling clans, tightly intermarried and politically associated, these clans began murdering, exhaling and imprisoning each other. Popular historians for this period describe a petite révolution, and the sources reveal Ivan had taken autocratic control at the age of thirteen. Comparably, the result of the Bolshevik Revolution was associated with a rise in autocracy in Soviet Russia. Since these two periods are considered rare, in regards to the ruling instability of the government, and the rise in autocracy, they were associated in Soviet and post-Soviet Russian historiography.


{{ Yet, there were other post-Soviet views that described Muscovite oligarchies and laid the foundation for communal or collegial forms that the Soviets could aspire too. This is linked to Keenan’s comparisons. The oligarchy controlled the weak masses who lived by a understanding of compliance. The masses were too weak and hopeless as individuals so they needed a strong central oligarchic government to give them a little push in the “correct direction,” thus communalism (socialism) was linked as a reality and not an ideology to Muscovy – in which the Soviet socialists could draw comparisons upon and direct the future. Under such understandings of Muscovy’s past, the oligarchs of the early Soviet period broke down to an autocracy of the later Soviet period. }}


 Ivan was shown to be a progressive leader, of the likes Stalin could emulate by some early Soviet historians. Ivan was shown as a reformer and modernizer of the emerging state of Muscovy. Stalin was concerned with moving a previously primitive Imperialist Russian state and shaping it into something more modern. This modernization was termed under industrial modernization, but was controlled by force and propagated as Socialism, under the rhetoric of Marxist Communism. In order to do this, Stalin had to take control of the Soviet state. The comparables to Ivan’s reforms and the Oprichnina caught the attention of post-Soviet historians placing their moralistic judgments into question. Post-Soviet historians assessment believed Stalin ignored the people’s will and left the concepts of collectivism and collaboration of the neo-communists interpretation of government inclusion – to in fact imitate the “great reformer,” Ivan Vasilievich. He made all the decisions, just like Ivan had. Instead of blaming Stalin, some post-Soviet historians blame pre-Soviet and early Soviet historians for allowing too positive a view, and in Hellie’s case, a “rational causality.”  They fashioned Ivan, allegedly, as the first ruler of the modern Russian state to move away from co-rulership and into dictatorship – under the term autocracy. Stalin stood in history at the same turning point in Russian politics. Eventually he got rid of his oligarchy and moved to autocracy.  He could either take control of the government or allow communalism of the process of social inclusion to help steer Russia into modernization.


 Post-Soviet historians took offense of this view of Ivan and Stalin’s agreement with pre- Soviet and early Soviet historians because it contended to erase the accomplishments of a secular god, named Karl Marx who had founded a teleological government model, muddled  in double discourse promoting the  “real(ness)” model to end all other predecessor ideological models. All teleological models are ideological in form – thus the contradiction. The contradiction matched the consensus of Muscovite historians. There seemed no plausible consensus to what actually happened, but only a figurative formulation of a political bias happening in anyone individual historian during their modernity.


 In effect, Muscovy offered its own contractions. In the 1550s, the Muscovite central authority asked itself – should we go east or should we go west? A strain and contention in the sources revealed it was not a unanimous decision but a compromise appeared as a result. Instead of inconclusiveness, two separates states were formed and two directions of imperialism were undertaken: one toward the east and one toward the west. Political chaos resulted as indecisiveness of a Muscovite central authority demonstrated a lack of political unity.  The sixteenth century lacked unity and this lack of unity represents the historiography of this era.  It is under these circumstances blame has been placed on Russian historians focusing on this Muscovite period. It has been adopted many of the Soviet problems have been result of these interpretations.  }}


Stalin looked back to this period and named some of his “suppressor troops” after the title of Ivan’s personal army, Ivan needed to be reinvented by the pro-Socialist historians. More precisely, Ivan was brought back to the historical point of popular histories of the tsar in the early seventeenth century, mainly by the writings of foreign enemies to the state of Muscovy. No longer was the scientific model assessed, it was demolished. These popular histories created an epistemological conquest and created Ivan as a beast or more politically correct an insane person with much bizarre pathology. The methodology constructed offered a solution for the pro-socialist post-Soviet Russian historian.  If Ivan could be excused, then Stalin could be excused, and socialism would continue to triumph. In this manner socialism continues to be the correct form of government preferred over capitalism, as the benevolent government system in modernity. This can be explained by Stalin’s actions were a result of his adoration of the sixteenth century grand prince/tsar. ( if you missed it –that was my thesis of this paper, and so is a repetition in sentence two in the next paragragh)


What is the difference between symbiotic relationships and Monolithic relationships? The idea that Imperial and Soviet Russian Historians needed to look back to the sixteenth century to explain Ivan IV’s autocratic actions contrasted against that of traditional co-ruler ship issues, resulted in post-Soviet historians applying excuses for Stalin’s behavior on these interpretations. If the post-Soviet historian could clarify symbiotic relations between the people and the government they could readily explain Stalin’s actions were a result of failed explanations by these pre- and Soviet Russian historians. These interpretations by these historians contended on redefining classim, nation, agency and religious and astronomical terminology. This could help explain Stalin’s failures in light of failed Russian historiography, they eruditely (re)veiled in their analysis.


Soviet Russia failed to unify under a paradigm of proper communism, as many Soviet and post-Soviet historians witnessed; and a failure of the agency of the masses resulted as an autocratic government headed by Stalin. Soviet Russia under Stalin was in fact better termed as the Cult of Stalin[M3] . The cult of Stalin could be better described as a dictatorship while masking in propagandist rhetoric of a façade of socialism. Many examples repeat themselves, such as Hugo Chavez’ Venezuelan Twenty-First Century Socialism, which is in fact a dictatorship.


Socialist’s promote the government as the destiny (controller and propagator) of human progression. They believe socialist government better servers to handle justice, loosely defined as individual’s inherent right of equality.  When things go wrong in the Soviet society, socialist’s claim the problem is not the model of a socialist government.  It is the leader who may have looked back into history and copied programs of pervious Russian leader who was a sane and intelligent person. This explains why some neo-communists believe “erasing the past” will help solve this dilemma ( cases such as Mao’s China, Lois, Vietnam) .  This “model” socialist leader would model him or herself on these past figures looking for answers for social control. In this way the model of a Russian socialist government is not to blame, but a long dead Russian leader. To admit Russian socialism is fallible is not in the best interest of many modern socialist Russian historians’.


Edward Keenan of Harvard University underlined his themes in Russian history linked to communal determinism and the concept of “risk adverse” of the common villagers, which penetrated the ruling elite, the boyars, and provided an Muscovite ideology of us verses them. Keenan spoke on the individual who in Muscovite society could not survive on their own,  in his discussion on the Muscovite Political Folkways  on page 125 in The Russian Review in 1986 (The Russian Review, vol. 45. 1986, pp. 115-181). Outstandingly, this thought pervaded all levels of society. The docile peasants went along with the small ruling elite as sort of a pessimistic forbearance. Hope was little, life was hard, and survival amounted to conforming to what Sydney Verba called "the subjective orientation to politics."[21] This orientation acts upon the concept of a perpetual constant, denying a discontinuance separating its norms and behaviors. The Keenan concept of concept of “risk adverse” denied Russian’s agency – the individual was already dead before they were born. An epistemological conquest by some post- Soviet historians denied a formulation of culture, a setting aside of dissenters,  and other cultural phenomenon, while focusing on the concept of power alone. This allowed Keenan to promote his main political assessment of the inner workings of Russian politics. This model described a simplified government concept of the oft understood “system of circles.”


These early models of government appeared in early middle age Europe, such as Charlemagne’s political system and can be traced to some systemic government practices in “limited” examples of Islam history. Its basic notion is central autocracy in conjunction with a dominant ruling oligarchy, all disguised as socialism – the process of showing compassion for one’s subjects, a goal of remaining in power, and an attitude of “us” verses “them.” This is not to confuse the post-modern Democratic-Socialism seen in Western Europe in the later decades of the twentieth-century, where elections and revolving (“circular” in conceptual-regard to each group’s representation in appointments) appointments determined safeguards for “potential” undesirable-elected officials – and solved the problem of power sharing. 

The oligarchy “circle system” managed the social controls of the state and acted as a representative for compassion and understanding toward the common people, but never considered itself to be expendable. As an arm of a representative body to the common people, it made the laws and decided what was best for the people. It better represents a small group of decision makers who ruled over decision followers. This to Edward Keenan represented what the Soviet Government appeared to be to its people.  He then concluded that a pattern, in fact for him, “was recognized” and consisted of a continuum since a pre-modern Russia to a modern Russia. In fact, politics had little changed in Russian politics and this represented a stark contrast to the west’s emergence into liberalism. In Keenan’s Muscovite Political Folkways, he illustrates his theories in which he received contention from other Russian historians who although believed he brought a new perspective into the discourse of Russian politics but inadvertently or “purposely” took agency away from the individual.

In 1987, Richard Wortman, summed up Keenan’s pattern and illustrated the link.

Like all important reinterpretations of the past, Edward Keenan's "Muscovite Political Folkways" makes us sit up and take notice. Keenan presents a sweeping overview of the Russian past distinguished by his characteristic rhetorical flair and iconoclastic elan. He links the Soviet Union today with Russia's early history, and connects current political behavior with patterns originating at the beginnings of the Russian state. It is in Muscovy that Keenan discovers the structure of political attitudes and responses that continued through the imperial, or "early modem" period, to the present. Keenan analyzes Russian history within the framework of a model of political culture elaborated by political scientists during the 1950s and 1960s. He strives "to discern the 'deep patterns' of political behavior, and to discover fundamental congruity between the content of a society's processes of socialization (including long-term historical experience) and its 'rules' and institutions" (p. 116).[22]

Ivan the Terrible

Ivan IV of Russia has been know throughout the West as

Ivan the Terrible. In Russia he is called Ivan Grozny,

which would be better translated as Ivan the Awesome, but

that is not what he is known as in the West. So the

question arises, was Ivan truly the terrible murdered ruling

his people with the sword and an iron fist, or was there

more to his rule than violence?

Ivan was born August 25th, 1530 to Grand Prince Vasily

III of Moscow and Yelena Glinskaya. When Ivan's father died

on December 4th, 1533 a three year old Ivan was declared

Grand Prince of Moscow. Ivan's mother ruled in his name

until her death in 1538. Ivan suspected later on in his

life that Yelena had been poisoned by the Boyars. After

Yelena's death the Boyars ruled in Ivan's name until January

16th 1547 when, at age 17, Ivan was crowned Czar of all


There are many stories that exist about Ivan's

childhood and that his brutal behavior later in life can be

explained by the terrors he witnessed as a child. After

Yelena's death, it is believed, that Ivan was neglected and

even abused by the Boyars. The Boyars would only pay

attention to Ivan when his presence was required during a

ceremony. They would clean him and dress him in fine robes

in order to display that the monarchy was stable under this

child ruler. However after the ceremonies Ivan was stripped

of the robes and became like a beggar in his own palace.

When Ivan was 15 he called the Boyars for a meeting.

He railed against them for their neglect of him and the

nation. He told them that he would punish their leader as

an example. On Ivan's...

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