After two years of bad harvests, a plague epidemic ravaged the countryside in 1570. The next year Moscow was devastated by a fire. The Crimean Tartars, the Turks, the Lithuanians and the Swedes threatened Russia's borders. Ivan lost Narva, but the Tartar invasion was stopped after their sacking of Moscow. In 1572 Ivan suddenly dismissed the Oprichniki. Some of Ivan's strangest behaviour occurred that year, when he again abdicated and placed a Tartar general, Simeon Bekboelatovitch, on the Moscow throne, while he retired to a country estate. Ivan made regular visits to the capital to pay homage to the new Tsar. The charade lasted for a year.
Boyars Weakened, Serfdom Strengthened The name oprichnina disappeared seven years after its adoption, and the expanding territory under the new administration took on the name of ''court land'' or "domain land''. It became a state within the state, complete with its own regularly constituted organization and functioning under completely new, unquestionably loyal officials, who owed their position, their land, and their very lives to the service they rendered the tsar.
Here in his ''domain'' where the tsar ruled without let or hindrance, Ivan executed or tonsured or banished most of the old hereditary landowners and confiscated their estates. He transplanted thousands of leading families from one district to another in an obvious effort to destroy their influence, for he saw their power as a threat to good government and even to national survival. A few old boyar families voluntarily surrendered their lands and sought service in the new order, but in each case they received in exchange for their ancestral holdings distant new estates which they retained only under service tenure. The new landowner-vassal relationship made the gentry in the domain land completely subservient to the tsar.
The consequences of the oprichnina were revolutionary. Although Ivan did not destroy the aristocratic element in Russia - enough of it survived to launch a civil war after his death - he so weakened and altered it that the aristocracy was never again the same. In dispossessing the old boyars who had held their land by hereditary right, even when he merely transplanted them to some distant new estate which they held by service tenure, he uprooted them, destroyed their old connections, deprived them of their old adherents, and took away their local position of respect which generations on the old estates had brought their families. No longer was there any material or social basis for the haughty independence they had once known. From that time forward they were ''service gentry'' whose position and well-being depended upon their service to the state. But Ivan left the task half finished to Peter the Great a century later.
The old hereditary boyars were not the only ones to experience the rooting out of old ties. When the new pomestchiks took over the estates confiscated from some defiant old landowner, they received with it the peasants who had worked the fields for centuries. Whatever rights the peasants had maintained under their old masters melted away under the new, for the government tightened the curbs upon the peasant's right to move in order to bind him firmly in the service of the pomestchik, who required maintenance and support if he in turn were to render his service obligation to the state. The system that the oprichnina created was a two-storied house of service, or in fact slavery, with the pomestchiks occupying the upper story and the peasants, rapidly becoming serfs, occupying the lower.
The Fall of the Dynasty Over the years, Ivan's married life had become unstable, underlining his egocentricity, insecurity and manic temperament. In 1561 he had married a Circassian beauty, Maria Temriukovna, but he soon tired of her. Two years after her death in 1569 he married Martha Sobakin, a merchant's daughter, but she died two weeks later. Ivan's fourth wife was Anna Koltovskaya, whom he sent to a convent in 1575. He married a fifth time to Anna Wassilchikura, who was soon replaced by Wassilissa Melentiewna. She foolishly took a lover, who was impaled under Wassilissa's window before she, too, was dispatched to a convent. After his seventh wedding day Ivan discovered that his new bride, Maria Dolgurukaya, was not a virgin anymore. He had her drowned the next day. His eight and last wife was Maria Nagaya, whom Ivan married in 1581.
Ivan had always had quite a good relationship with his eldest son, and young Ivan had proved himself at Novgorod. On November 19, 1581 Ivan became angry with his son's pregnant wife, because of the clothes she wore, and beat her up. As a result she miscarried. His son argued with his father about this beating. In a sudden fit of rage, Ivan the Terrible raised his iron-tipped staff and struck his son a mortal blow to the head. The Prince lay in a coma for several days before succumbing to his festering wound. Ivan IV was overcome by extreme grief, knocking his head against his son's coffin. The murder doomed the dynasty to extinction, for Ivan's sole remaining heir, his younger son Fedor, was a simpleton whose marriage was barren.
The Mad Monarch Ivan's mistrust, sadism and uncontrolled rages suggest an abnormal personality. His disturbing behaviour can be traced back to his traumatic childhood.
After his illness of 1553, which could have been pneumonia or encephalitis, and the death of his first wife in 1560, Ivan's erratic and cruel behaviour increased. He had some psychopathic characteristics; his quick mood shifts, unreliability, egocentricity and his impersonal sex life and lack of lasting emotions. His first mock abdication shows that he was a master at manipulating other people, while convincing them of his good intentions. He was without any compassion for his subjects, whom he beat up, robbed or raped just for fun. His personal friendships were of short duration and his friends usually ended up dead. Some examples are the fate of Adasjev and Silvester and the impalement his brother-in-law, when his third wife died. However, he did show signs of remorse after the death of his son. Ivan became addicted to the ingestion of mercury, which he kept bubbling in a cauldron in his room for his consumption. Later the exhumation of his body showed that he suffered from mercury poisoning. His bones showed signs of syphilic ostratis. Ivan's sexual promiscuity with both sexes, his last illness and many features of his personality support a diagnosis of syphilis, a venereal disease that was often 'treated' with mercury. However, it can not be determined indisputably if Ivan's problems were basically organic or psychological.
Some Practical Steps Although Ivan IV claimed to rule by divine right and fought every check upon his authority, custom required the prince or tsar to seek the advice of the boyar duma which met frequently, sometimes daily, with the tsar presiding. The Sudebnik, the law code that Ivan IV issued in 1550, even required the duma's approval of all important decisions. Laws or ukazes declared in Duma meetings began, '.The tsar has directed and the boyars have agreed..' There can be no doubt of Ivan's ability to cow any who might oppose his will in the duma. Yet it was, in part at least, to free himself from even this mild restraint that the tsar convoked the Zemskii Sobor to still the voice of the boyars in a chorus of commoners votes, and then organized the oprichnina to avoid meeting with the duma altogether.
As the small principality of Moscow grew into the Russian state and acquired enormous territory, the household officials who had served the prince when his patrimony was hardly larger than a great landowners estate could not handle the multiplicity of problems facing the nation-state. New government bureaus called prikazes were set up, each headed by an appointee of the grand prince and staffed with a corps of clerks. Some of these bureaus dealt with particular governmental functions, whereas others administered new lands added by conquest.
One prikaz handled receipts and disbursements like any treasury department in the West; another supervised embassies sent abroad and foreign missions received in Moscow like any foreign ministry in western Europe; still another dealt with military matters like any western war office. Alongside these bureaus created on functional lines were other bureaus whose responsibility it was to deal with all types of administrative matters in a given territory, particularly in one recently acquired. A prikaz for Novgorod governed that wide area after its absorption by Ivan III. When the principality of Tver was added to Moscow there had to be a prikaz to administer it.
The conquest of Kazan added another to this growing list, and late in the sixteenth century another prikaz, or bureau or colonial office, came into existence to govern Siberia. There was no order and little logic in the way in which these bureaus proliferated. A new function added or a new district conquered seemed to dictate the creation of another prikaz. By the end of the sixteenth century there were thirty such departments; by the time Peter the Great a century later swept them away and set up a new administrative pattern the number had doubled. Often their functions overlapped;
several of them, for example, gathered and spent revenue.
The End By the end of his life, Ivan was habitually bad tempered. Daniel von Bruchau stated that in his rages Ivan "foamed at the mouth like a horse". He had long looked older than his years with long white hair dangling from a bald pate onto his shoulders. In his last years, he had to be carried on a litter. His body swelled, the skin peeled and gave off a terrible odour. Jerome Horsey wrote: "The Emperor began grievously to swell in his cods, with which he had most horribly offended above fifty years, boasting of a thousand virgins he had deflowered and thousands of children of his begetting destroyed." In 1584, as he was preparing to play a game of chess, Ivan fainted suddenly and died.
During his reign hardly a family of noble birth had not been touched by his murders, and some had been completely eliminated. Countless acres of cultivated land had been abandoned by farmers during the terror of the Oprichniki, and forests had begun reclaiming the land.
The end of the dynasty would bring turmoil. The chaos in which Ivan left the administration, the bitterly resentment of the boyars who had survived his purges, the sense of insecurity and fright felt by men of every class, the foreign enemies whose hatred of Russia Ivan's campaigns of pillage, torture, and desolation had sharpened all compounded to leave the land weak and divided. For many years there would be serious question whether the nation could survive. Despite some remarkable achievements, all in all Ivan the Terrible set the stage for an era of unbelievable confusion and disorder which has gone down in history as the Time of Troubles.
Vocabulary work Read and memorize the following words and expressions, suggest their Russian equivalents:
fringe, n (e.g. to stand on the fringe of remorse, n smth) blasphemy, n revolt, n (e.g. peasant revolts) superstition, n hegemony, n abdicate, v (abdication, n) nobility, n populace, n depravity, n abduct, v (abduction, n) moderation, n monastic order reign, n sacrilegious mass challenge, n (v) licentiousness, n (e.g. to challenge smb’s rights to the repentance, n throne) sermon, n (e.g. to read religious sermons) dungeon, n (e.g. to imprison smb in a virtue, n (e.g. Christian virtues) dungeon) orphan, n regent, n exterminate, v (=eliminate) jailer, n landed aristocracy convent, n (e.g.to send a woman to a implement, v (e.g. to implement a policy, convent) measures, etc) molest, v (= bother, annoy) retail trade deaf-mute, adj (= dumb and deaf) bureaucracy, n threadbare, adj (= shabby) apanage system rivalry, n (= competition) purge, n (v) feud, n (e.g. family feud, personal feud, strangle, v blood feud) flog, v roam, v (= wander) staff, n (e.g. Ivan used to carry a metaltorment, v (= torture, tantalize) pointed (iron-tipped) staff with him.) tormentor, n sack, v (=plunder; e.g. to sack a city) pack, n (e.g. a pack of starved hunting mutilate, v dogs, a wolf pack) impale, v (The king used to impale his scoundrel, n (= rascal; e.g. a gang of prisoners on sharp sticks and place them young scoundrels) in public view.) rape, n (v) massacre, n (v) (= kill, slaughter) confession, n (e.g. to do a public mercenary, n confession of smb’s sins) plague, n coronation, n homage, n (e.g. to pay homage to smb) devote, v (adj) banish, v devoted, adj (= faithful) hereditary landowner khanate, n (e.g. the Khanates of Kazan service tenure and Astrakhan) adhere, v (adherent, n) fever, n (e.g. high fever, yellow fever; to haughty, adj (e.g. haughty landlords) come down with a fever) defy, v (defiant, adj; defiance, n) to swear an oath of allegiance succumb, v (e.g. to succumb to a wound, treachery, n (= treason, betrayal) to a disease) to do smth in full view of smb mercury, n to rage at (against) smb law code exile, n (v) (e.g. to send smb into exile; to treasury, n live in exile) proliferate, v fit, n (e.g. a fit of temper, a fit of nerves, turmoil, n hysterical fit, a fit of coughing, etc) desolation, n Questions for discussion Comment on the following:
1. At the beginning of the chapter Ivan’s reign is called “great”, whereas at the end it is blamed for leaving the country in a state of extreme confusion and disorder.
Are these statements as contradictory as they seem at first sight How can you reconcile them What generally makes a monarch “great” 2. What factors built up Ivan’s personality Was his behaviour and policy anyhow similar to that of other European leaders of the time 3. Can we justify the Oprichnina 4. In your opinion, was Ivan more a monstrous madman or a skillful political manipulator Give specific reasons to support your answer.
Chapter POLES ON THE WARPATH Read the text:
Why Troubles The Polish invasion and occupation of Russia, which the Russians refer to as the Time of Troubles, had its origin in the social and economic difficulties inherited from the time of Ivan the Terrible. Ivan IV created what we might call an inner disequilibrium. Every social class in Russia had a bag full of grievances in the 16th century. The old aristocracy had been ruined and those who had survived with their lives sought to restore its former power and glory.
But fear and terror pervaded all aspects of Russian life and prevented the formation of sensible policies and programs which would have restored all sense of national unity and pride. The new aristocracy, called dvoriane had no esprit de corps.
They were all varied lot and did not have all sense of mutual interest. Some of the estates which the new pomestchiks had acquired were inadequate to sustain their new position in the state and in local administration. There was an overwhelming labor shortage which affected not only the dvorianstvo, but all estate owners, including the state and the church. Hundreds of peasants searched for freedom and economic security in Siberia and other less populated areas and thus contributed to all general exodus of peasants from their former estates.
The plight of the peasants was certainly an unpleasant one and no one could really blame them for running away. Special privileges granted to the secular and ecclesiastical landlords contributed to their impossible situation. There was throatcutting competition among landlords for tenants. The monasteries were the chief beneficiaries of this cruel competition, since most peasants thought they would be better treated by the monks than by their former landlords. This flight of the peasantry was encouraged by the church, which had persuaded the State to give the peasants legal permission for moving on one single day of the year - the holiday of St. George. Many peasants used St. George's Day to flee from their creditor lords.
But flight from the obligation to pay one's debts had very bad results. It tended to turn the debtor into all slave of the new owner, since the debt could be used to blackmail the peasants. The state intervened to some degree by preventing ''old timers" to leave.
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