Biography of Zar de Rusia Iván IV (1530-1584)

Grand Prince of Moscow, born in Moscow from August 25, 1530, and died in 1584. He/She was the first to take the name of Tsar (César); consolidated and centralized Russian State, and extended their territory eastward, not Slavic regions. Its hardness towards his enemies, including Russians own, earned him the nickname of "the Terrible" (not too approximate translation of the Russian word grozny, which means 'imposing').


Son and grandson of Moscow rulers (including Daniel, son of Alexander Nevsky), was three years old when he/she died his father Basilio III (1533). His mother Elena Glinsky - descent Lithuanian - took the Regency over five years, while he/she was educated by Metropolitan Macarius, who had some influence on his protected until his death in 1563. Since then Ivan held the title of Grand Prince, because he/she had been crowned by Metropolitan Daniel in the Cathedral of the Asunción of Moscow. Died at the same time the Regent in 1538, the little buoy ('boyars', families of noble landowners), divided into various factions, seized power and tried to please the young Ivan; the most powerful was some relatives of the Prince, the Glinsky. Ivan, although from earliest childhood he/she attended the acts of Government, just couldn't take up more than hunting or to know his Kingdom - although it has already had some emerging claims of authority, such as do cut the tongue of a nobleman who criticized him or run others - until he/she could be imposed in 1547.

Was then titled "tsar" on 16 January - as he/she claimed to descend from the Roman Emperor Augustus, and was married a month later with Anastasia Zakarina-Yureva, who acted on her husband with the same soothing role as Macario-; both had six children, of which only two survived. His reign is meant to strengthen and enlarge the nascent Russian power, inside and out. For this purpose he/she organized a central and authoritarian State, abolished the southern turco-mongoles khanatos, and tried to enter Europe through the Baltic (Livonian war between 1558 and 1582), but failed and had to return then to the East). Calculator despite his outbursts of anger, availed of their numerous marriages - six - to establish political ties. Promoter of culture (especially of the printing press), he/she wrote about political and religious affairs: defended the divine concession to the ruler's absolute power. All this gives a rough idea of its close relationship with the Orthodox Church that, at times, used for their political purposes.

Internal politics: Constitution of a State

For the creation of a strong Russian State, he/she reformed the civil code (Sudebnik, 1550) and promoted the creation of one religious strictly Russian (Stoglav, which allowed him to assert the autonomy of the Russian church from the Patriarch of Constantinople and obtain his favor in return). It eliminated or deported to the boyars - not without resistance from these (revolt of 1564) - and replaced them with the minor nobility or a new service. Although he/she used some private counselors, as Prince Andrei Kurbsky - who defected and joined the service of the King of Poland-, Aleksei Adasev, the priest Silvestre or Boris Godunov, helped especially of a their guards, the Streltsy, and after the Opritchniks (police force of between one thousand and six thousand men), to those who granted the lands confiscated from the boyars, and soon turned into a powerful elite, until in 1572, they were dissolved by having failed to defend Moscow from Tatar attack. He/She also claimed popular support, as in 1566, for the first time, he/she summoned a National Assembly (Zemski Sobor), thus also reformed the army and military service. Also created two large administrative regions: Opritchina; personal Government, and Zemchtchina, of Government together with the nobility. Reextendió the serfdom, and violently interrupted any opposition to his authority although he/she would come by ecclesiastical party: for example, made the ambitious Prince Vladimir I9701 and his mother (to 1569) disappear, and in 1570 decimated the population of Novgorod. More than 3,000 were the victims during his reign (the numbers correspond to the lists of names that the Tsar sent to monasteries so that you pray for their souls). Finally, it boosted trade by allowing the activity of English merchants and Swedes (who founded various factories in Russia) and sending Russians to England and Netherlands; in 1584 he/she founded the port of Abakan, in the White Sea.

Foreign policy: expansion by Tatar territory and failure in the Livonia war

Overseas, ended with the secular presence turco-mongola in Russia, already had long lost its ancient hegemony: the small khanatos of the banks of the Volga, Kazan and Astrakhan, were incorporated in 1552 and 1554. Despite this, Moscow would be still sacked by the Crimean Tatars in 1571. The desire to obtain an outlet to the Baltic Sea and thus achieve better trade routes was frustrated by the fortress of polaco-lituanos and Swedish: in 1558 Iván IV took Narva (in the Duchy of Livonia) and then Latvia, but the Livonian requested help to his Lord Sigismund II Augustus of Poland, which reconciled with the Swedes, finally beat him in 1576 and 1578 (battle of sold). He/She should renounce the acquired territories and withdraw, as established in the Treaty of Jam Zapolski (1582) and Narva (1583) - in whose firm helped the mediation of Antonio Possevino, sent by the Pope Gregory XIII-. In the course of the war had attempted to come to Poland, and even unite Russia with that country through a marriage proposal made to the sister of Sigismund, Caterina; the fact that their proposals were rejected not prevented him from presenting his candidacy to the Polish throne after extinction of the Jagiellon dynasty in 1572. Frustrated Western thrust is redirected towards East: at that time embodied the khanates of Siberia, which moved the Russian border to the Irtysh River, beyond the Ural mountains. This was the beginning of progress which his successors until the other end of Asia, to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. The colonization of the vast Siberian expanses was requested to the Stroganov, that earned of the Cossacks (ancient peasant Russian and Ukrainian established at borders). Precisely one of their chiefs, the ataman Yermak had been the protagonist of the conquest of Western Siberia, under the command of a few hundred men. To "El Terrible" unable to son, Fyodor I Ivanovich - happened in 1584 as he/she had murdered her first-born son in a fit of anger (1580)-, with what began three decades of instability in Russia, which would last until the advent of the Romanov Dynasty (1613), family that had exactly belonged the first wife of Iván IVAnastasia.


CRYSTAL, D. (ed.). The Cambridge Biographical Encylopedia. (Cambridge: University Press, 1994).

HELLMANN, M. Ivan "The Terrible". (Madrid: European Iberian, 1969).

WALISZEWSKI. Ivan le Terrible. (Paris: 1904).