Thursday, November 7, 2013

The First Tsar

First "Tsar of All the Russias"-Ivan IV Vasilyevich (Tsar-1547-1584), also known as "Ivan the Terrible."  Formally titled the Grand Prince of Moscow (Prince-1537-1547), Ivan created a new Imperial title "Caesar" or Tsar in Russian. His foreign policy lead to the annexation of substantial lands to the East and Southeast as well as the importation of West European goods technologies (including the first printing press in Russia). The first Russian exploration and expansion into the vast lands of Siberia occurred during his reign.

His domestic policies revamped the government, created the Zemsky Sobor (a Feudal style parliament) and strengthened the hold of the lords over the Serfs.  He was responsible for the first "Modern " (for the 16th century that is) government in Russia.

He is often called "Ivan the Terrible" for his brutal actions against those that he believed were his enemies, both real and imagined.  He is blamed for countless massacres (the cities of Novgorod and Kazan experienced especially brutal treatment), enslavements, banishments and murders including killing his own son during a fit of temper. 

Ivan IV was a complex man, dangerous, often unpredictable, ruthless and always a ruler who understood power and how to use it to his best advantage.  By the time of his death Medieval Russia had also died and the foundation for the Russian Empire had been formed.