Ivan the Terrible was the ruler of Russia in the 16th century. Unfortunately, there are no documents or papers left from which we can get 100% accurate information about the deeds and achievements of Ivan. In the history of Russia, he is known to be the cruelest tsar. However, the importance of his decisions and actions shouldn’t be undervalued. He managed to bring Russia on a new level of development.
Today, we gathered the facts about Ivan the Terrible that the majority of people don’t know about. Let’s see what these facts are…
Ivan the Terrible: 8 interesting facts about the cruelest of Russian rulers
1. Ivan the Terrible had a very uneasy childhood
Ivan the Terrible was born in August 1530 to Vasili III and Elena Glinskaya. 3 years after his birth, Vasili III died of inflammation that caused blood poisoning. Ivan was proclaimed the Grand Prince of Moscow. Since he was too little to rule the country, his mother was appointed his regent. She died in 1538. Many historians believe that the cause of her death was poisoning.
Being left without parents, Ivan and his younger brother were left under the protection of their wards. That was the period when the country was under the control of the Glinsky clan, the Shuisky and Belsky families. Truth be told, the wards didn’t care about the wellbeing of Ivan. He was often left with no food to eat and no garments to wear. To make matters worse, the regents took measures to leave Ivan without friends.
Many historians believe that the cruelty and injustice that Ivan witnessed as a child influenced his character and personality, an interesting fact about Ivan the Terrible.
2. Ivan the Terrible was a devout Christian
It is hard to believe that the man who liked to torture animals in childhood was a devout Christian. Believe it or not, but it was really so. During his reign, Ivan the Terrible took measures to further Christianize Russia. He regularly attended church ceremonies and confessed his sins.
3. Ivan the Terrible ordered to execute Andrei Shuisky
At a certain point, Ivan got fed up with the way his wards behaved with him and the country he was destined to rule. In the effort to attract the attention of the regents and make them respect him, he ordered to kill Andrey Shuisky. No one could predict that a 13-year boy could do such an awful thing. The execution brought desirable results. Being afraid of Ivan, his wards started to do everything to please him.
4. Ivan the Terrible was the first ruler to have been officially proclaimed tsar
Ivan came to the throne in 1547. In his effort to change the view of Russia in Europe and show his power, Ivan declared himself the tsar of all Rus. The same year, Moscow was officially announced to be the main state of Rus. An interesting fact about Ivan the Terrible is that he was the first of the Russian rulers to have been appointed the title.
The results of the decision were positive. It promoted Russia to a new position in worldwide politics. The significant role of the country became obvious to many foreign monarchs, including Queen Elizabeth I and Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II.
5. Ivan the Terrible proposed to Queen Elisabeth I
Ivan the Terrible and Queen Elisabeth I often wrote letters to each other. Some historians believe that Ivan proposed to Elisabeth. Even though she turned him down, the trading relationships that appeared between England and Russia were beneficial to both countries.
6. Ivan the Terrible was one of the greatest Russian reformers
Soon after the coronation, the young tsar started to implement reforms. The majority of his reforms were radical. Their main aim was to concentrate all the power in the hands of Ivan.
The main institution that was responsible for implementing those reforms was the so-called Elected Rada. The members of the Rada were confidants of Ivan. The decisions made by the Rada resulted in the limitation of the boyar’s authority. After that, the tsar abolished the Elected Rada and started to rule independently, an interesting Ivan the Terrible fact.
7. Ivan the Terrible was the father of mass repressions in Russia
Ivan the Terrible started the era of mass repressions known as “oprichnina”. The basic idea of it was the establishment of a strict church order. The groups of people called oprichniki were terrorizing and killing members of the boyar families for 7 years. It is estimated that approximately 4.500 people died as a result of oprichnina.
8. Ivan the Terrible killed his son
During his lifetime, Ivan had 6 wives and 8 children. Unfortunately, only one of them survived infancy.
The loss of Ivan, the eldest son and the only heir of Ivan the Terrible, was truly devastating. According to the legend, Ivan died at the hands of his father. In the middle of the heated argument, Ivan the Terrible accidentally hit his son with the iron bar. The injury caused was lethal. Whether it is true or not, we will never know.
Despite being cruel and promoting strict rules in Rus’, Ivan the Great did a lot for his Empire. He started a number of wars with the view of expanding the territory of Russia. It was he who united Kazan and Astrakhan with Russia. It was his decisions that resulted in the stretching of the Russian borders to the Volga and Urals.
Ivan the Terrible died in March 1584. Historians still argue whether his death was natural or occurred due to poisoning.
We hope that the facts we shared with you helped you to learn interesting things about the life and reign of Ivan the Terrible. If you are interested, visit the Historical People Facts Page!