Early Russian History. Key Issues. Гончарова Л.Ю. - 24 стр.



estates in service tenure elsewhere, preferably in distant border regions. There was
nothing new in this policy except the scale on which it was implemented. The
resulting elimination of the influence of the landed aristocracy and the mass transfer
of land were the chief political, economic and social consequences of the oprichnina.
There are a variety of opinions about the long-range historical significance of
this strange experiment of Ivan's. According to one view, a blend of practical and
economic factors and vague plans of a totalitarian state are involved here. Ivan
wanted to have an area immediately at his disposal with all intermediate authorities
removed. In other words, he may have made a semi-conscious effort to eliminate the
feudal structure, what there was of it in Russia. He therefore had to make a clean
sweep in order to create a new state on a new social basis.
The oprichnina state was a form of self-government. The crown created a
monopoly of all the trade through the oprichnina. The retail trade in liquor was
controlled by the state. A new bureaucracy and new state army was created. Newly
conquered lands were annexed to the oprichnina and not the zemshchina. There was
an attempt to assimilate the varied races and minorities in Russia. The Tartar element
was absorbed. Ivan seemed to be trying to create a Great Russian nationality,
transcending loyalty to Muscovy. New administrators replaced the boyars and
usurped their functions as local administrators.
The oprichnina delivered the final blow to the appanage system. It opened
Russia's windows to the East, particularly China and India' It was also a social and
political revolution, since Ivan and his oprichniki made violent attacks on the monks
and the church.
Russian Terror
The oprichniki constituted a security police whose relentless aim was to purge
the land of treacherous elements. Ivan's victims suffered heartless torture. Many were
drowned or strangled or flogged to death; some were impaled, others roasted on a
spit, still others fried in large skillets. Ivan the Terrible used to carry a metal-pointed
staff with him, which he used to lash out at people who offended him. Once, he had
peasant women stripped naked and used as target practice by his Oprichniki. Another
time, he had several hundred beggars drowned in a lake. A boyar was set on a barrel
of gunpowder and blown to bits. Jerome Horsey wrote how Prince Boris Telupa "was
drawn upon a long sharp-made stake, which entered the lower part of his body and
came out of his neck; upon which he languished a horrible pain for 15 hours alive,
and spoke to his mother, brought to behold that woeful sight. And she was given to
100 gunners, who defiled her to death, and the Emperor's hungry hounds devoured
her flesh and bones". His treasurer, Nikita Funikov, was boiled to death in a cauldron.
His councillor, Ivan Viskovaty, was hung, while Ivan's entourage took turns hacking
off pieces of his body.
In 1570, on the basis of unproved accusations of treason, Ivan sacked and
burned the city of Novgorod and tortured, mutilated, impaled, roasted, and otherwise
massacred its citizens. A German mercenary wrote: "Mounting a horse and
brandishing a spear, he charged in and ran people through while his son watched the
entertainment...". Novgorod's archbishop was first sewn up in a bearskin and then