Early Russian History. Key Issues. Гончарова Л.Ю. - 27 стр.



he did show signs of remorse after the death of his son. Ivan became addicted to the
ingestion of mercury, which he kept bubbling in a cauldron in his room for his
consumption. Later the exhumation of his body showed that he suffered from
mercury poisoning. His bones showed signs of syphilic ostratis. Ivan's sexual
promiscuity with both sexes, his last illness and many features of his personality
support a diagnosis of syphilis, a venereal disease that was often 'treated' with
mercury. However, it can not be determined indisputably if Ivan's problems were
basically organic or psychological.
Some Practical Steps
Although Ivan IV claimed to rule by divine right and fought every check upon
his authority, custom required the prince or tsar to seek the advice of the boyar duma
which met frequently, sometimes daily, with the tsar presiding. The Sudebnik, the
law code that Ivan IV issued in 1550, even required the duma's approval of all
important decisions. Laws or ukazes declared in Duma meetings began, '.The tsar has
directed and the boyars have agreed..' There can be no doubt of Ivan's ability to cow
any who might oppose his will in the duma. Yet it was, in part at least, to free himself
from even this mild restraint that the tsar convoked the Zemskii Sobor to still the
voice of the boyars in a chorus of commoners votes, and then organized the
oprichnina to avoid meeting with the duma altogether.
As the small principality of Moscow grew into the Russian state and acquired
enormous territory, the household officials who had served the prince when his
patrimony was hardly larger than a great landowners estate could not handle the
multiplicity of problems facing the nation-state. New government bureaus called
prikazes were set up, each headed by an appointee of the grand prince and staffed
with a corps of clerks. Some of these bureaus dealt with particular governmental
functions, whereas others administered new lands added by conquest.
One prikaz handled receipts and disbursements like any treasury department in
the West; another supervised embassies sent abroad and foreign missions received in
Moscow like any foreign ministry in western Europe; still another dealt with military
matters like any western war office. Alongside these bureaus created on functional
lines were other bureaus whose responsibility it was to deal with all types of
administrative matters in a given territory, particularly in one recently acquired. A
prikaz for Novgorod governed that wide area after its absorption by Ivan III . When
the principality of Tver was added to Moscow there had to be a prikaz to administer
The conquest of Kazan added another to this growing list, and late in the
sixteenth century another prikaz, or bureau or colonial office, came into existence to
govern Siberia. There was no order and little logic in the way in which these bureaus
proliferated. A new function added or a new district conquered seemed to dictate the
creation of another prikaz. By the end of the sixteenth century there were thirty such
departments; by the time Peter the Great a century later swept them away and set up a
new administrative pattern the number had doubled. Often their functions overlapped;
several of them, for example, gathered and spent revenue.