Early Russian History. Key Issues. Гончарова Л.Ю. - 25 стр.



hunted to death by a pack of hounds. Men, women and children were tied to sleighs,
which were then run into the freezing waters of the Volkhov River. The mass of
corpses made it flood its banks. Novgorod never recovered. Later the city of Pskov
suffered a similar fate.
After two years of bad harvests, a plague epidemic ravaged the
countryside in 1570. The next year Moscow was devastated by a fire. The Crimean
Tartars, the Turks, the Lithuanians and the Swedes threatened Russia's borders. Ivan
lost Narva, but the Tartar invasion was stopped after their sacking of Moscow. In
1572 Ivan suddenly dismissed the Oprichniki. Some of Ivan's strangest behaviour
occurred that year, when he again abdicated and placed a Tartar general, Simeon
Bekboelatovitch, on the Moscow throne, while he retired to a country estate. Ivan
made regular visits to the capital to pay homage to the new Tsar. The charade lasted
for a year.
Boyars Weakened, Serfdom Strengthened
The name oprichnina disappeared seven years after its adoption, and the
expanding territory under the new administration took on the name of ''court land'' or
"domain land''. It became a state within the state, complete with its own regularly
constituted organization and functioning under completely new, unquestionably loyal
officials, who owed their position, their land, and their very lives to the service they
rendered the tsar.
Here in his ''domain'' where the tsar ruled without let or hindrance, Ivan
executed or tonsured or banished most of the old hereditary landowners and
confiscated their estates. He transplanted thousands of leading families from one
district to another in an obvious effort to destroy their influence, for he saw their
power as a threat to good government and even to national survival. A few old boyar
families voluntarily surrendered their lands and sought service in the new order, but
in each case they received in exchange for their ancestral holdings distant new estates
which they retained only under service tenure. The new landowner-vassal
relationship made the gentry in the domain land completely subservient to the tsar.
The consequences of the oprichnina were revolutionary. Although Ivan did not
destroy the aristocratic element in Russia - enough of it survived to launch a civil war
after his death - he so weakened and altered it that the aristocracy was never again the
same. In dispossessing the old boyars who had held their land by hereditary right,
even when he merely transplanted them to some distant new estate which they held
by service tenure, he uprooted them, destroyed their old connections, deprived them
of their old adherents, and took away their local position of respect which generations
on the old estates had brought their families. No longer was there any material or
social basis for the haughty independence they had once known. From that time
forward they were ''service gentry'' whose position and well-being depended upon
their service to the state. But Ivan left the task half finished to Peter the Great a
century later.
The old hereditary boyars were not the only ones to experience the rooting out
of old ties. When the new pomestchiks took over the estates confiscated from some