Ivan The Terrible Research Paper

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Ivan IV Vasilyevich, Grand Prince of Moscow, Tsar of all the Russias, “crowned by God, beloved of God, chosen by God, most pious, most orthodox, God-loving,” and the Terrible? Ivan Grozny is a compelling historical figure on whom much has been written. In the four hundred years since his death, a popular image has emerged, an image of an insane, monstrous ruler, truly terrible, in the most modern sense of the word. Ivan’s devout religious nature and his political conduct often seem at odds with one another. His psyche is a tantalizing mystery. When one fails to understand Ivan, it is easy to fall back on this image of the “Terrible Tsar.” Therein lies the problem. The “terrible” image of Ivan IV is false. It is rooted in a fundamental misunderstanding.…show more content…
His philosophy of autocracy would have a tremendous impact on future tsars, including Peter the Great and Catherine the Great. In a letter to the exiled Prince Andrei Kurbskii, Ivan defended the necessity and legitimacy of samoderzhets, autocracy, arguing that it was the most natural form of governance and that Russia had always been an autocracy. He further argued that he would be betraying his sacred duty if he were to submit to his councilor’s advice because he would be acting like a slave, not a tsar. He thought that a state without an autocrat was weak and could not prosper. Ivan felt that autocracy served justice because the tsar must have the power to be, “...cautious and reasonable: sometimes gentle and sometimes cruel, merciful to the good and cruel to the evil ones. And if this is not the case, then he is not the tsar.” Ivan believed that it was the tsar’s sacred duty to use terror, or awe, reasonably and deliberately, to save men, body and soul, and that if he failed in this duty, not only would his own soul be in peril, but the state would fall into ruin. Ivan went on to explain that he did things he did not want to do both out of imperial duty and because of his human nature. He said that to be cruel as a tsar was good, but that to be cruel as a man was a great sin. He acknowledged his own human weakness in this regard, admitting that he had…show more content…
These stories persisted centuries after Ivan’s death, implying that they were more than royal propaganda, perhaps a reflection of genuine sentiment. Few 16th century Russians wrote about Ivan, but from their folk songs and stories one may conclude that the popular view of Ivan was that of not only of a wrathful, cruel, terrifying leader, but also a merciful, forgiving, just, generous, and respectful leader. It is important to note that this is merely a popular image. Alone, it does not prove that Ivan was generally loved by his people, in concert with the writings of foreign visitors to Russia and what is known of Ivan’s character and political agenda, the argument is more

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