V.M. Vasnetsov. Tsar Ivan the Terrible, 1897
490 years ago, Ivan IV Vasilievich, nicknamed the Terrible, was born. The Russian sovereign, who laid the foundations of the Orthodox “people’s” kingdom “, defended it under the blows of the eastern and western conquerors. Our state withstood a massive invasion of Western powers that wanted to turn Russians into “Indians of Europe.”
“Third Rome” and the Russian Horde
Ivan the Terrible, on the basis of the painstaking work of the great princes of Moscow, Ivan III and Vasily III, who rallied specific fragments of Russia around Moscow, held back the onslaught of the collapsed fragments of the Horde kingdom and Catholics, united the traditions of the Second Rome (Constantinople) and the Horde. Moscow became the “Third Rome” and at the same time adopted the traditions of the Great Horde (“Tartaria”).
The Russian Tsar Ivan Vasilyevich raised Russia to its full height. She crushed the wreckage of the Horde: the Kazan and Astrakhan khanates. The entire Volga basin and the Volga trade route were part of Russia. In the Battle of Molody, the Russian army utterly defeated the Turks and Crimeans, discouraging the Turks from going north. The Ottomans, with the help of the Crimean khans, wanted to crush Kazan and Astrakhan, to become the heirs of the Horde. However, Moscow was able to do this. Now Russia began to return land in the south, to build huge defensive systems – notches. A large notch line was drawn from Alatyr to Ryazhsk, Oryol and Novgorod-Seversky. Fertile black soil (the former “wild field”) was developed under its protection. From Astrakhan, the Russians advanced to the North Caucasus, stood on the Terek. Don, Zaporozhye, Terek and Yaik (Ural) Cossacks became subjects of the Orthodox tsar.
The military power of the Russian kingdom has increased significantly. Cossack troops became the shield and sword of Russia. They will go all of Siberia to the Pacific Ocean, jump over it too, create Russian America. They will take Azov, beat the Crimean Tatars and Ottomans, they will conquer the Northern Black Sea region and the Northern Caucasus. From the Urals and Orenburg they will go south. Also, Ivan the Terrible, in fact, created a regular army: the local mounted militia was reinforced by rifle regiments, an outfit (artillery). This immediately affected the growth of Russia’s military power.
Pomeranian seafarers mastered the lands in the Northern Urals. They built the city of Mangazeya. The Cossacks, under the command of Ataman Yermak, with the support of the Tsar’s archers, defeated the Siberian Khanate. Another part of the huge Horde became part of Russia. New warriors, merchants, hunters, industrialists and farmers moved after the Cossacks. The Russians were moving towards the sun. Growing with Siberia, Russia again became the “Great Scythia”, continuing the tradition of the ancient northern civilization.
Our state has never been isolated from Europe. Since ancient times, Italians, Germans, Scots, Scandinavians, etc., have visited and traded in Moscow, Novgorod, Pskov and other cities. Western embassies have arrived. Under Ivan the Terrible came the British, who had been wrecked in the northern seas, where they were looking for a way to China and India. The British announced in Europe that they had “discovered” Russia. Just like the Europeans “discovered” Africa, America, India, Indonesia and China. But the Russian state at the time of Ivan the Terrible was not an easy prey, like the kingdoms in Africa or America. I had to establish normal trade.
Sovereign Ivan Vasilyevich fought a war for access to the Baltic, began to build a navy so that the Russians themselves could participate in international trade. In fact, he did what Peter the First did at the beginning of the 18th century. Livonia, a longtime enemy of Russia, collapsed under the blows of the Russian army. But here half of Europe came out against Russia: Lithuania, Poland, Denmark, Sweden, they were supported by the German emperor and the Pope. The West attacked not only with conventional weapons – swords, spears and cannons, but also with ideas and information. The Europeans sought to “reprogram”, Westernize the Russian nobility, so that the boyars and princes wanted to live like the Polish lords, without the strong power of the autocrat. They wanted to get “freedom” from permanent service, to live in luxury. Subordinate Russian Orthodoxy to Rome.
Rome, which at that time was the main “administrative center” of the West, inspired, led and organized the anti-Russian coalition. The Holy See created the Jesuit Order. It was, in fact, the first world intelligence service to spread its network over many states. With its intelligence, training schools. Papal agents carried out an operation to merge Lithuania and Poland. A high-ranking Jesuit hierarch, Possevino, visited Russia, wanted to force Moscow (against the background of defeats on the western front), to subordinate the Russian Church to Rome. But here the papal emissaries did not succeed. Russia withstood the massive invasion of the West. The enemy choked on blood under the walls of our fortresses. Rome received a firm and unequivocal refusal on the proposals of the church union.
“People’s” autocracy of Ivan the Terrible
Under Ivan the Terrible, a “people’s” monarchy was created. The Russian sovereign relied on his subjects in his struggle against external and internal enemies. And the subjects saw protection in the face of the king. Therefore, folklore assesses Ivan IV positively, as a tsar-father, a defender of light Russia. He was Terrible for the enemies of Russia. A strong central government was complemented by a broad zemstvo democracy at all levels. Village communities, urban hundreds, ends, settlements chose their own self-government bodies. In the districts, there were three branches of power at once: the governor, the zemstvo and the laborer. The zemstvo headman and his assistants were elected “by the whole world”, were in charge of local issues, taxes, land, construction and trade. Gubny headman was also chosen from among the servants of the district, he obeyed the government, the Rogue Order, and conducted criminal cases. The governor was appointed by the sovereign, he was in charge of military and judicial affairs.
To solve the most important matters, the tsar consulted “with all the earth”, convened Zemsky Sobor. They elected delegates from different cities and estates. This practice was also introduced by Ivan Vasilievich. The councils had tremendous powers: they approved laws, resolved issues of war and peace, and even elected kings.
The system of zemstvo self-government showed high efficiency during the Troubles. The “horizontal” of the authorities was able to temporarily replace the destroyed “vertical”. The “earth” formed rati, supplied them, liberated the capital and chose a new ruling dynasty. As a result, it was the zemstvo structures, the habit of the Russians to initiative (no Russian “slave slaves”), that allowed them to organize themselves “from below” without orders from “above” and save the state. These same zemstvos allowed to overcome the devastation, to achieve power and prosperity again.
The results of the reign of the Terrible Tsar were truly grandiose. The territory of the state has doubled, from 2.8 million to 5.4 million square meters. km. The Middle and Lower Volga regions, the Urals, Western Siberia were annexed, the forest-steppe and steppe regions of the Chernozem region were developed (after Ivan Vasilyevich, his heirs continued to move south and east). Russia is entrenched in the North Caucasus. By area, Rus became the largest state in Europe. It was not possible to break through to the Baltic, but almost all of Europe prevented it! The Russian kingdom withstood the blow of the West and the powerful Ottoman Empire, burying its army. There were severe wars, epidemics, but the population of Russia grew, according to various estimates, by 30-50%.
For the preservation and prosperity of the state, Orthodoxy and the people, Grozny had to resort to harsh measures – oprichnina. But for half a century of his reign, according to researchers, only 4-7 thousand people were executed. Mostly representatives of the nobility and their entourage, also criminals. If we compare with what happened in such “enlightened” European countries as Spain, the Netherlands, England or France, then the Russian tsar will seem like a humanist. There, in a week they could cut, burn, drown or wheel more. About 30 thousand Huguenots (Protestant French) were killed in France during the St. Bartholomew’s Night alone. Not to mention the extermination of entire tribes, nationalities and states in America, Africa, Asia and Indonesia.
Power under Ivan the Terrible was creative. The country was covered by a network of schools and postal stations. 155 new cities and fortresses were built. The border was covered by a line of notches, fortresses, outposts. Outside the official borders, on the approaches to them, an external zone of defense was created – the Cossack troops. Zaporozhye, Don, Volga, Terek, Yaik, Orenburg covered the core of the Russian state. Ivan Vasilievich left behind a rich treasury. With the money accumulated under the great tsar, his son began to build a new fortress in Moscow – the White City. In Russia they will continue to build and lay new cities and fortresses. There is a new line in the south: Kursk, Belgorod, Oskol, Voronezh.
In Russian sources there is no mass evidence of Ivan Vasilyevich’s “bloodiness and atrocities”. The people loved the king, it is noted in folklore. Grozny was revered as a locally revered saint. Several icons have come down to us depicting Ivan Vasilyevich, where he is presented with a halo. In 1621, the feast of the “finding of the body of John” was established (June 10, according to the Julian calendar). In some saints, Ivan Vasilyevich is mentioned with the rank of great martyr. That is, the fact of his murder was confirmed. Patriarch Nikon, “reforming” the Russian Church, tried to suppress the veneration of Ivan Vasilyevich. However, without much success. Pyotr Alekseevich placed Grozny highly. I considered myself his follower. Peter the Great noted:
“This sovereign is my predecessor and example. I have always taken him as a model in prudence and courage, but I could not yet equal him. “
Ivan the Terrible was also remembered in the West by those “strong” whom he did not allow to roam. Their descendants dreaming of European “freedom”. Abroad, a new wave of “memories” denigrating Grozny (the first was during the Livonian War, when the West waged an information war against Russia), took place in the era of Peter I. Russia again cut the road to the seas, which became the reason for fanning the “Russian threat”. And to reinforce this image, they recalled the old slander about the “bloody tsar” Ivan the Terrible. Grozny was remembered in Europe again during the French Revolution. Somehow he did not please the French revolutionaries who drowned their country in blood. In particular, in just a few days of “popular terror” in Paris, 15 thousand people were killed and torn apart.
In Russia, the myth “about a formidable and bloody tyrant” was approved by the official historiographer Nikolai Karamzin (a fan of France). He turned Ivan Vasilyevich into a fallen sinner, the main antihero of Russian history. As sources, Karamzin used the slander of the fugitive émigré prince and the first Russian dissident Andrei Kurbsky (“The Story of the Great Prince of Moscow Delekh”). The work was written in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth during the war against Russia and was an instrument of the information war of the West against the Orthodox Tsar. The prince himself hated Grozny and wrote for the Polish gentry. Kurbsky, for Karamzin and other Russian Westernizers, was a colorful figure: a fugitive from a “tyrant”, a fighter for “freedom”, an accuser of an “immoral despot,” etc.
Another “truthful” source for Karamzin was the “testimony” of foreigners. Nikolai Karamzin’s “History of the Russian State” contains numerous references to the works of P. Oderborn, A. Gvanini, T. Bredenbach, I. Taube, E. Kruse, J. Fletcher, P. Petrey, M. Stryjkovsky, Daniel Prinz, I. Cobenzl , R. Heydenstein, A. Possevino and other foreigners. Karamzin also took as sources later Western compilations based on the retelling of various rumors, myths and anecdotes. The information in them was very far from objective: from dirty gossip and rumors to deliberate information aggression against the Russians, Russia and Ivan the Terrible. Foreign authors were opposed to the “Russian tyrant”. The texts were created in countries with which the Russian kingdom fought or was in a state of cultural and religious confrontation.
After Karamzin, this myth became one of the foundational ones in Russian history. He was taken up by liberal and pro-Western historians, writers and publicists. Criticism and protests were ignored and hushed up. As a result, through collective efforts, such a collective opinion was created that when the epoch-making monument “Millennium of Russia” was created in Novgorod in 1862, the figure of the greatest Russian tsar did not appear on it!