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The blending of the Byzantine tradition embodied in the church and Mongol ideas and administrative usages paved the way for the establishment of the semioriental absolutism of the Muscovite tsars. The window on Europe, which might have admitted the refreshing breeze of western influences, was still tightly shut, while the deadening storms from the Asiatic steppes swept freely through the length and breadth of the land. Moscow autocracy of the 16th century was no different form that of the Tartar Khans. The landed aristocracy became servile to the Moscow grand dukes and tsars. The veche lost the right to choose and expel princes - a function which had been taken over by the khans. The common people began to drift quite noticeably into the dark night of serfdom.

Vocabulary work Read and memorize the following words and expressions, suggest their Russian equivalents:

heritage, n decree, n foresee, v (foresaw, foreseen) clergy, n the unforeseen exempt, adj (to be exempt from taxes) to be on the move hamper, v (=hinder; e.g. to hamper the pasture, n progress of business) plunder, v (=loot, pillage, ravage, sack) sever, v to go on the warpath severance, n (=separation) subdue, v call to arms (e.g. to issue a call to arms) grievance, n (=complaint) punitive, adj (e.g. punitive measures, dissention, n (=discord, strife, friction) invasion, expedition) chieftain, n subjugate, v (e.g. a subjugated nation) dignitary, n unify, v recruit, v (= draft; e.g. to recruit men for unification, n the army) allegiance, n revenue, n (e.g. to raise revenue) enlightenment, n disposal, n (e.g. to be at smbs disposal) icon, n (e.g. icon painting) census, n endeavor, n (e.g. creative endeavor) burden, n (e.g. financial burden) standstill, n (= pause, inaction, deprive, v (to deprive smb of smth) stagnation; e.g. come to a standstill) butcher, v (=slaughter) embody, v serfdom, n Questions for discussion Comment on the following:

1. The majority of great nomadic invasions known to history were directed westward from Asia to Europe. What was the main driving force that moved all those huge masses of people along the same route 2. How can you characterize the Russian policy of the Golden Horde 3. Why did the Yoke last for so long 4. What influence did it have over Russia What do you think of an opinion that eternal Russian fate to be behind Europe is mainly due to the existence of the Tartar Yoke which European countries were free from Chapter THE AGE OF RAGE Read the text:

The sixteenth century was a century of unbridled force and exuberant intellectual activity. The Kremlin, recently erected beside the Moskva by Italian architects, stood on the fringe of an intellectual world that was to contain at one and the same time, Leonardo, Charles V, Luther, and Loyola, unique personalities side by side with seething peasant revolts, mass movements toward evangelical religion, and the first beginning of the national power states. It was the beginning of the panEuropean sphere, with its claim to intellectual hegemony over a quarters of the world.

The whole Muscovite outlook on life was quite remote from this new Western Europe, despite certain superficial similarities between Ivan IV and Francis I of France. Ivan faced the same problems with his nobility that Western rulers confronted. But there was no ideological system in Russia and the social life seemed lifeless and immoveable. The feudal lords, the smaller territorial princes, and their heirs had to be overthrown. For the sake of national unity it had to be done by whatever means might be necessary - in England, France or Russia.

A Renaissance Tyrant on the Russian Throne Ivan IV is a sinister and arresting figure in the history of the Russian Middle Ages. The surname of "Groznyi" (Dread or Terrible) by which he is known is fully deserved. Boundless suspicion, insatiable cruelty, and extreme depravity were perhaps his outstanding characteristics. He was a cruel tyrant, who never knew the meaning of moderation; he drank too much, laughed too loudly and hated and loved too fiercely. And he never forgot anything. However, Ivan was definitely smart and despite his cruelty, his reign is a great one in Russian annals.

Troubled Adolescence Ivan was only 3 years old when his father died. His uncle Yuri challenged his rights to the throne, was arrested and imprisoned in a dungeon. There he was left to starve. Ivan's mother, Jelena Glinsky, assumed power and was regent for five years.

She had Ivan's other uncle killed, but a short time afterwards she suddenly died, almost surely poisoned. A week later her confidant, Prince Ivan Obolensky, was arrested and beaten to death by his jailers. While his mother had been indifferent toward Ivan, Obolensky's sister, Agrafena, had been his beloved nurse. Now she was sent to a convent.

Not yet 8 years old, Ivan was an intelligent, sensitive boy and an insatiable reader. Without Agrafena to look after him, Ivan's loneliness deepened. The boyars alternately neglected or molested him; Ivan and his deaf-mute brother Yuri often went about hungry and threadbare. No one cared about his health or well being and Ivan became a beggar in his own palace. A rivalry between the Shuisky and the Belsky families escalated into a bloody feud. Armed men roamed the palace, seeking out enemies and frequently bursting into Ivan's quarters, where they shoved the Grand Prince aside, overturned the furniture and took whatever they wanted.



Murders, beatings, verbal and physical abuse became commonplace in the palace.

Unable to strike out at his tormentors, Ivan took out his frustrations on defenceless animals; he tore feathers off birds, pierced their eyes and slit open their bodies.

The ruthless Shuiskys gradually gained more power. In 1539 the Shuiskys led a raid on the palace, rounding up a number of Ivan's remaining confidants. They had the loyal Fyodor Mishurin skinned alive and left on public view in a Moscow square.

On December 29, 1543, 13-year-old Ivan suddenly ordered the arrest of Prince Andrew Shuisky, who was reputed to be a cruel and corrupt person. He was thrown into an enclosure with a pack of starved hunting dogs. The rule of the boyars had ended.

By then, Ivan was already a disturbed young man and an accomplished drinker.

He threw dogs and cats from the Kremlin walls to watch them suffer, and roamed the Moscow streets with a gang of young scoundrels, drinking, knocking down old people and raping women. He often disposed of rape victims by having them hanged, strangled, buried alive or thrown to the bears. He became an excellent horseman and was fond of hunting. Killing animals was not his only delight; Ivan also enjoyed robbing and beating up farmers. Meanwhile he continued to devour books at an incredible pace, mainly religious and historical texts. At times Ivan was very devote;

he used to throw himself before the icons, banging his head against the floor. It resulted in a callosity at his forehead. Once Ivan even did a public confession of his sins in Moscow.

Hits and Blows of the First Years of Reign In 1547 Ivan was finally crowned Tsar of all Russians. He had taken methodical and meticulous care in preparing for his coronation. Later, when he decided to choose a wife, Ivan had eligible young Princesses and daughters of noblemen presented to him in a kind of 'Miss Russia Contest'. He instantly fell for the beauty and charm of Anastasia Romanovna and married her. By all accounts Anastasia had a quieting effect on Ivan. He called her his "little heifer" and they were to have 13 years of wedded bless. Anastasia bore him six children of whom only two survived infancy.

In the first years of his reign Ivan was advised by three devote men: Alexej Adasjev, the priest Silvester and the metropolitan Macarius. Ivan reformed the government and reduced both corruption and the influence of the boyar families. He also reformed the church and the army, creating an elite force, the Streltsi.

Subsequently, Ivan conquered the Khanates of Kazan and Astrakhan near the Wolga River. In 1558 he conquered the Baltic cities Narva and Polotsk and started trading directly with England.

In the midst of these wars, in March 1553, Ivan had fallen ill with a high fever.

During his illness Ivan demanded the Princes and boyars to swear an oath of allegiance to his baby son Dmitri, but most were unwilling to do so. Ivan recovered, but he never forgave the treachery of those around him when they thought he was dying. Henceforth his policy was to set up a strong centralised state and to oppress and destroy his enemies within it. A few months later the Royal couple was visiting a monastery to give thanks to God for Ivan's recovery, when a nurse accidentally dropped Dmitri into the river. The baby drowned.

In the summer of 1560 Anastasia succumbed to a lingering illness. At her death Ivan suffered a severe emotional collapse. He banged his head on the floor in full view of the court and smashed his furniture. His suspicion deepened into paranoia.

Angry and depressed, with his old cruelty resurfacing, Ivan raged against the boyars.

He suspected them of having Anastasia poisoned and although he had no actual evidence against the boyars, he had a number of them tortured and executed. His advisor Adasjev died in prison, Silvester was exiled and in 1563 Macarius died of natural causes. Ivan had alternately violent fits of temper and feelings of remorse, while blasphemy and superstition succeeded his pious moods.

Shortly before Christmas in 1564, Ivan suddenly packed his belongings and treasures, secretly left Moscow and announced his intention to abdicate. The populace called for his return. After a month of negotiations Ivan agreed to come back, demanding absolute power to punish anyone he considered disloyal and to dispose of their estates as he wished. It is likely that Ivan deliberately used his threat as a weapon against the boyars' resistance to strengthen his position as absolute ruler of Russia.

The Oprichnina The instruments of Ivan's new rule were the 'Oprichniki', who were handpicked by Ivan and had to swear him a personal oath of allegiance. The mere sight of the Oprichniki instilled fear: they dressed in black and rode black horses. Many were criminals without any remorse about killing anyone Ivan disliked. The Oprichniki didn't hesitate to burst into a church during mass, either abducting the priest or murdering him in front of the altar. Subsequently, Ivan founded a pseudo-monastic order: he was the 'abbot' and his Oprichniki were the 'monks'. They regularly performed sacrilegious masses that were followed by extended orgies of sex, rape and torture. Frequently Ivan would act as master of the rituals, in which, with sharp and hissing-hot pincers, ribs were torn out of men's chests. Drunken licentiousness was alternated with passionate acts of repentance. After throwing himself down before the altar with such vehemence that his forehead would be bloody and covered with bruises, Ivan would rise and read sermons on the Christian virtues to his drunken retainers.





An ancient term, oprichnina signifies an entailed domain and was used to describe the estate settled on the widow of a sovereign prince. The choice of the term was presumably Ivan's own; he liked to think of himself as an orphan or a widower.

Under the new dispensation the territory of the nation was split into two parts:

zemshchina and oprichnina. The former was administered by the traditional institutions, from the boyar duma down; oprichnina, the personal domain of the tsar, had its own administrative agencies independent of those of the zemshchina.

Oprichnina presumably had two main objectives: the first, of a passing nature, was the extermination of treason; and the second, of lasting significance, was the elimination of the political influence of the landed aristocracy. In pursuit of the former goal the oprichniki were actually agents of the security police. This function was emphasized by their appearance; the emblem of their authority was a broom and a dog's head attached to their saddles. The second objective - the destruction of the influence of the landed aristocracy - was achieved by a mass transfer of the population, a familiar policy used extensively by Vasili II, Ivan III and Vasili III. The territories assigned to oprichnina, including streets in Moscow and other urban centers, were cleared of property owners and occupants and settled by the oprichniki.

The dispossessed owners, among then many boyars and former princes, were given estates in service tenure elsewhere, preferably in distant border regions. There was nothing new in this policy except the scale on which it was implemented. The resulting elimination of the influence of the landed aristocracy and the mass transfer of land were the chief political, economic and social consequences of the oprichnina.

There are a variety of opinions about the long-range historical significance of this strange experiment of Ivan's. According to one view, a blend of practical and economic factors and vague plans of a totalitarian state are involved here. Ivan wanted to have an area immediately at his disposal with all intermediate authorities removed. In other words, he may have made a semi-conscious effort to eliminate the feudal structure, what there was of it in Russia. He therefore had to make a clean sweep in order to create a new state on a new social basis.

The oprichnina state was a form of self-government. The crown created a monopoly of all the trade through the oprichnina. The retail trade in liquor was controlled by the state. A new bureaucracy and new state army was created. Newly conquered lands were annexed to the oprichnina and not the zemshchina. There was an attempt to assimilate the varied races and minorities in Russia. The Tartar element was absorbed. Ivan seemed to be trying to create a Great Russian nationality, transcending loyalty to Muscovy. New administrators replaced the boyars and usurped their functions as local administrators.

The oprichnina delivered the final blow to the appanage system. It opened Russia's windows to the East, particularly China and India' It was also a social and political revolution, since Ivan and his oprichniki made violent attacks on the monks and the church.

Russian Terror The oprichniki constituted a security police whose relentless aim was to purge the land of treacherous elements. Ivan's victims suffered heartless torture. Many were drowned or strangled or flogged to death; some were impaled, others roasted on a spit, still others fried in large skillets. Ivan the Terrible used to carry a metal-pointed staff with him, which he used to lash out at people who offended him. Once, he had peasant women stripped naked and used as target practice by his Oprichniki. Another time, he had several hundred beggars drowned in a lake. A boyar was set on a barrel of gunpowder and blown to bits. Jerome Horsey wrote how Prince Boris Telupa "was drawn upon a long sharp-made stake, which entered the lower part of his body and came out of his neck; upon which he languished a horrible pain for 15 hours alive, and spoke to his mother, brought to behold that woeful sight. And she was given to 100 gunners, who defiled her to death, and the Emperor's hungry hounds devoured her flesh and bones". His treasurer, Nikita Funikov, was boiled to death in a cauldron.

His councillor, Ivan Viskovaty, was hung, while Ivan's entourage took turns hacking off pieces of his body.

In 1570, on the basis of unproved accusations of treason, Ivan sacked and burned the city of Novgorod and tortured, mutilated, impaled, roasted, and otherwise massacred its citizens. A German mercenary wrote: "Mounting a horse and brandishing a spear, he charged in and ran people through while his son watched the entertainment...". Novgorod's archbishop was first sewn up in a bearskin and then hunted to death by a pack of hounds. Men, women and children were tied to sleighs, which were then run into the freezing waters of the Volkhov River. The mass of corpses made it flood its banks. Novgorod never recovered. Later the city of Pskov suffered a similar fate.

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