Early Russian History. Key Issues. Гончарова Л.Ю. - 26 стр.



defiant old landowner, they received with it the peasants who had worked the fields
for centuries. Whatever rights the peasants had maintained under their old masters
melted away under the new, for the government tightened the curbs upon the
peasant's right to move in order to bind him firmly in the service of the pomestchik,
who required maintenance and support if he in turn were to render his service
obligation to the state. The system that the oprichnina created was a two-storied
house of service, or in fact slavery, with the pomestchiks occupying the upper story
and the peasants, rapidly becoming serfs, occupying the lower.
The Fall of the Dynasty
Over the years, Ivan's married life had become unstable, underlining his
egocentricity, insecurity and manic temperament. In 1561 he had married a
Circassian beauty, Maria Temriukovna, but he soon tired of her. Two years after her
death in 1569 he married Martha Sobakin, a merchant's daughter, but she died two
weeks later. Ivan's fourth wife was Anna Koltovskaya, whom he sent to a convent in
1575. He married a fifth time to Anna Wassilchikura, who was soon replaced by
Wassilissa Melentiewna. She foolishly took a lover, who was impaled under
Wassilissa's window before she, too, was dispatched to a convent. After his seventh
wedding day Ivan discovered that his new bride, Maria Dolgurukaya, was not a virgin
anymore. He had her drowned the next day. His eight and last wife was Maria
Nagaya, whom Ivan married in 1581.
Ivan had always had quite a good relationship with his eldest son, and young
Ivan had proved himself at Novgorod. On November 19, 1581 Ivan became angry
with his son's pregnant wife, because of the clothes she wore, and beat her up. As a
result she miscarried. His son argued with his father about this beating. In a sudden fit
of rage, Ivan the Terrible raised his iron-tipped staff and struck his son a mortal blow
to the head. The Prince lay in a coma for several days before succumbing to his
festering wound. Ivan IV was overcome by extreme grief, knocking his head against
his son's coffin. The murder doomed the dynasty to extinction, for Ivan's sole
remaining heir, his younger son Fedor, was a simpleton whose marriage was barren.
The Mad Monarch?
Ivan's mistrust, sadism and uncontrolled rages suggest an abnormal
personality. His disturbing behaviour can be traced back to his traumatic childhood.
After his illness of 1553, which could have been pneumonia or encephalitis, and the
death of his first wife in 1560, Ivan's erratic and cruel behaviour increased. He had
some psychopathic characteristics; his quick mood shifts, unreliability, egocentricity
and his impersonal sex life and lack of lasting emotions. His first mock abdication
shows that he was a master at manipulating other people, while convincing them of
his good intentions. He was without any compassion for his subjects, whom he beat
up, robbed or raped just for fun. His personal friendships were of short duration and
his friends usually ended up dead. Some examples are the fate of Adasjev and
Silvester and the impalement his brother-in-law, when his third wife died. However,