Early Russian History. Key Issues. Гончарова Л.Ю. - 22 стр.



into an enclosure with a pack of starved hunting dogs. The rule of the boyars had
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