Perhaps the most controversial figure in the history of Russia is Ivan the Terrible. On the one hand, a strong ruler, an outstanding statesman. Russia, more precisely, Russia, in the years of his reign increased by half. Under Ivan the Terrible, Russia was first perceived in Europe as a serious player in the political arena. He strengthened the state power, carried out a number of reforms. He gave out rights and estates not to those who had family ties, but to those who distinguished themselves in the service of the state. With him in Russia appeared elements of self-government on the ground.
Ivan the Terrible – the first tsar in Russia, before him the rulers were called great princes. Sometimes he is accused of this: they say, he wanted to rise. But it should be remembered that the title of the tsar enabled Ivan and the whole Rus to take a completely different position in European diplomatic relations. “Prince” in Europe was understood as “duke”, but the title of the king was equated with the imperial one. And the state of Rus on the international arena grew from the principality to the empire.
On the other hand, state power has become stronger, but what’s the use? Have people become better off living in this state? And there is no definite answer. Under Ivan the Terrible, the people suffered enough, because this ruler treated his subjects with extreme cruelty. The people disliked by tsarist policy had no rights – they
When the Tsar suspected the inhabitants of Novgorod that they had taken part in a conspiracy against him, he moved his faithful oprichniks to this city. They burned, destroyed and executed indiscriminately. The mass grave of the inhabitants of Novgorod, who died in the massacre, numbered several thousand people. They did not just execute: they mocked, used the most sophisticated methods of murder, including for women and children. For example, poured ice water and boiling water alternately, so that the skin itself peeled off the person. And this – for the inhabitants of their own country, not even for opponents in any war!
What was the use of victories over the Kazan and Astrakhan khanates, in the annexation of Siberia, if whole villages were burned in the heart of Russia by the oprichniki? If the land was not sown, as contemporaries wrote.
What kind of person was Ivan the Terrible? On the one hand, educated, possessing a phenomenal memory, sincerely loved books and music. At that time – great virtues, even among aristocrats. On the other – a sadist, who himself invented new types of torture and executions, and then took part in their implementation. To drag a man through a tight rope is the idea of Ivan the Terrible with oprichniki. Periodically, the king was pious and sincerely prayed, thinking about how to go to the monks. But he ordered to remove the bells from churches in Novgorod, and the metropolitan, who refused to bless the ruin of Novgorod (!) – to strangle…
So the tyrant was Ivan the Terrible or a reformer? I believe that he managed to visit both of them. First, it is worth noting that Ivan the Terrible ruled for 50 years – the longest monarch in the history of Russia. And he behaved differently in different periods of his life. A young king, for example, was called a merciful and pious monarch. At that time he ruled with the Chosen Rada of the boyars. It was during this period that he carried out most of the positive reforms for the country.
For example, the Code was published, which for the first time regulated the criminal responsibility of judges for an unfair sentencing, refusal to rule a right court or abuse of authority. Thus, the tsar limited possible judicial arbitrariness.
By order of the Tsar, the Moscow Council ordered the clergy to organize schools for children in all cities on “the teaching of reading and writing, and the teaching of book letters and the church psalter’s song,” that is, teaching music.
A turning point occurred when the beloved wife of Tsar Anastasia died. They say that the young king could not find a place for grief: he began to suspect his surroundings that they had poisoned the queen. History indicates that he had a reason for this… From that moment Ivan showed himself quite different: vindictive, cruel, punitive. The Tsar began to carry out mass executions only on suspicion, and, of course, dispersed the Elected Rada.
Over time, it was difficult to call him mentally normal. Still, according to one version, Ivan the Terrible killed his son in an attack of anger, on the other – brought to a nervous fever, from which the prince died. Then I regretted it terribly…
This is the problem of a “strong hand,” “a strong man at the head of the state,” and unlimited autocratic power. No matter how outstanding a person who concentrated power in his hands, he is just a man. Personal tragedy, bitterness – and the whole country moaned under the yoke.
Ivan the Terrible was also just a man. He rushed from one extreme to the other. He created the oprichinin and himself abolished it. Those who zazhyravshiesya, I’m not afraid of this word, were accustomed to scoff at the peaceful population, and when the Crimean Khan attacked Russia, they could not rebuff. Moscow was burned. The tsar was hanging oprichniki at the gates of their houses.
One man at the head of a huge country… Ivan the Terrible rushed from the idea of complete centralization of power before the division of Russia into a federal state. Yes, there was such an idea, true, unrealized. Federative monarchy – the power in the inheritance was to be accepted by the sons of the king. Yes, the sons simply did not have enough – Ivan died at the hands of his father, Fedor was weak in his mind and was not fit for kings, and Dmitry was still a baby when Ivan the Terrible passed away.
Ivan the Terrible… A tyrant or a reformer? I think so: the reformer, who became a tyrant on the mountain of the whole country, to the whole people, having achieved unlimited power.