Ivan IV: The Reign Of Ivan The Terrible

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Russia’s extremely rich history of the 9th to 13th centuries has led us to recognize prominent leaders of Kievan Rus like Oleg of Novgorod, or Vladimir the Great. But of the many leaders that have ruled over Russian provinces, few are as distinct, complex, and memorable as Ivan the Terrible following the rise of Muscovite Russia. Ivan IV was captivating not only in his conflicting reign, but in his tumultuous personal feelings of paranoia and ruthlessness. For years, Ivan IV has been debated as being identified as either a tyrant or a reformer. It is this extremely fine line between these two identifications that classify Ivan IV as distinctly both a cruel tyrant and an advanced reformer. By exploring how Ivan the Terrible’s reign impacted…show more content…
Ivan IV advanced the military to such a degree that Russia began to expand through military conquest. In particular, Ivan IV’s taking of Kazan prompted advancement in warfare. “In 1550, Ivan IV ordered the formation of six companies of musketeers (strel’tsy), who fought primarily on foot with the latest firearms” (Kaiser and Marker 159). The conquest of Kazan was a great turning point and “marked the first defeat and annexation of a non-Russian sovereign state” (Hosking 117). The conquest of Kazan opened up trading routes as well. These military techniques were first pioneered by Ivan IV, and ultimately led to the defeat of the Tatars, the taking of Kazan, and the Livonian War. However, the 24-year-long Livonian War deemed unsuccessful, along with struggles against the Lithuanians and the Baltics. Following the pattern of much of Ivan IV’s reign, his attempts to reform are outshadowed by many negative consequences. On the administrative military and government level, “administrative offices…kept increasingly elaborate records of the government’s most important activities and thus considerably increased its control over the country and its resources” (160), making Ivan IV’s rule one that held considerable administrative influence, which had not been present in previous reigns. However, we see that with the introduction of the oprichinina, the government control seems to have some…show more content…
It is extremely difficult to decide if he was a reformer or a tyrant once you have learned about all of the political, military, social, and economic effects his reign had on Russia. There were so many events that were devastating, like the imprisonment of the patriarch and the overall fear and paranoia instilled in the people of Russia. But, there were many positive reforms too, like the writing of the law (sudebnick) and the first nationwide representative meeting (zemsky sobor). Ivan’s ideas are fundamental in theory, and while they did not deem successful at the time, were recycled and perfected by later rulers. The significance of Ivan’s rule is extremely complex in nature, and cannot be written off as a complete failure without taking into account all of the many impacts he had on ruling Russia. Although the Time of Troubles follows – not coincidently – quite soon after Ivan’s reign, it arguably may have lasted a lot longer than 15 years if Ivan had not proposed many ideas that led to developments like taxation systems, trading systems, diplomatic international relations, and court/law systems. Geoffrey Hoskins sums up Ivan’s rule succinctly and adequately by stating that “[g]iven these obstacles, Ivan achieved a great deal, but what he achieved was far outweighed by the human cost, both to himself and to his hapless
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