Rus Articles Journal

Horrors of oprichnina. How the Russian tsar crushed Novgorod?

After all in conversation on oprichnina most important and at the same time causing furious disputes are a question of terror, mass executions.

Vasily Osipovich Klyuchevsky wrote about oprichnina more than hundred years ago: “Establishment it always seemed strange as to those who suffered from it, and that who investigated it“.

When the tsar Ivan returned to Moscow from the Aleksandrovsky Settlement, he changed to unrecognizability even purely externally - the idea with renunciation and the permission to emergency measures which is pulled out under the threat of terrible Moscow revolt at the Seigniorial Duma really was for him deadly action.

There came rather dashing times - people Moscow with horror learned about all new and new plots and “great izmenny causes“ of those who still regularly came to monarchic service, ordered troops, won victories.

Incredibly, but it is impossible to judge on the bases of documents whether there were actually these changes and plots - oprichnik archives irrevocably died, and the notes written by foreigners are so tendentious and have character of lampoons that historians treat them with the greatest care long ago.

The main opponent the tsar considered the cousin, the specific prince Vladimir Andreevich Staritsky. Weak-willed and not enterprising, he could not be the real rival, but he was a member of the Moscow grand-ducal dynasty, the closest relative of the tsar. At the end of September, 1569 Grozny summoned Vladimir Andreevich. Staritsky arrived with the wife and the younger daughter. One of imperial cooks gave evidences that Vladimir Andreevich bribed him to poison the tsar. Ivan ordered to the brother, his wife and the daughter to drink in advance prepared poison.

In the same days in far Goritsky Monastery were killed mother of the specific prince the princess Efrosinya with twelve nuns. According to one data, they were drowned in Sheksna, on others - suffocated a smoke in a judgment log hut. The bases to suspect that “Staritsky`s plot“ existed actually, no, but precedent is important - the Russian tsar killed the blood relative with all his family.

For the time being Ivan abstained from punishment over the cousin. Perhaps, the intuition prompted to Ivan that this murder will become a prelude to a total disappearance from a face of the earth of a dynasty Kalitichy, three centuries governing in Moscow.

Further the most tragic and bloody event of the 16th century in Russia - defeat of Veliky Novgorod by oprichnik army followed. Ded Groznogo Ivan III with big severity attached the Novgorod republic to a great Russian kingdom, tens of thousands of Novgorod land owners lost the family estates and were moved to other counties of the Russian state where received estates of the same size as taken away. But what happened in 1570 to any comparison does not go with events of centenary prescription.

Late fall 1569 oprichnik army went hiking. Guardsmen approached Tver, the first large city on the way to Novgorod. Here terrible disorder was made: killed several thousands of people. The tsar Ivan wanted to provide suddenness of the emergence in Novgorod, and therefore to an advance party led by Vasily Zyuzin live on the way was entrusted to destroy all. Hundreds of people died in Klin and Vyshny Volochyok. In Torzhok exterminated all captured Germans who were there, Poles and Tatars.

In the same place, in Tver, there was a former metropolitan Philip displaced from metropolitan department for Ivanov` accusations of lawlessness. Grozny had an idea to receive at the disgraced prelate who was highly esteemed in the people, consecrations of a retaliatory campaign on Novgorodians because from denunciations the tsar knew about allegedly existing communications of the killed Vladimir Andreevich with rebels. Pimen, the main enemy and Philip`s exposer was the Novgorod archbishop. Grozny wanted to convince Philip of existence of the Novgorod change of which Pimen was at the head. Mission was charged to Grigory Lukyanovich Belsky (better known under a name of Malyuta Skuratov). The idea failed, Malyuta from Philip could achieve nothing and, apparently, personally killed the obstinate prelate.

On January 8 the tsar Ivan solemnly drove to Novgorod, on the bridge through Volkhov the tsar was met by the archbishop Pimen with clergy, in hands the bishop had “a Lord`s life-giving cross“ which the tsar had to kiss on custom. But “the sovereign to a cross did not go“ and instead delivered a speech.

He declared to Pimen that it - not the pastor and the teacher, and “a wolf and a predator and the blighter“, in hands at it “not a cross life-giving, but instead of a cross the weapon“ which it, “zlochestivy“, and it “edinomyslennik, this hail inhabitants, you hoshcht... Great Novjgrad of a predata inoplemennik, to the king Polish Zhigimont August“.

Thus from first minutes of the emergence in the former free city Ivan Vasilyevich let know that Novgorod should not count on his mercy. After the tsar and his confidants properly gorged on and got drunk, Grozny let out the oprichnik predatory call: “Goyda!“. On this signal guests arrested owners, and the most terrible episode of oprichnina - six weeks of the Novgorod disorder began.

National in Novgorod held folklore atrocities of Grozny in remembrance. In one of songs the tsarevitch Ivan Ivanovich with satisfaction reminds the father: “And which street you went, the father, all sec., and pricked, and sat down on a stake“.

The victim of imperial anger not only adult men, but also their wives and children fell (“a muzhsky floor and female, babies with real mlekopitayemy“). People were killed in the different ways: poured over them gas mixture (“not which compound flour fiery“) and set fire, dumped live under ice of Volkhov, tied to quickly rushing sledge... The ingenuity of executioners was boundless. “That... day is grateful which days will cast into water five hundred or six hundred of people“, - the chronicler reports. In other days, according to him, the number of the victims reached one and a half thousand. And disorder continued more than a month, from January 6 to February 13.

Historians argue on the number of the people killed in Novgorod long ago. The historian Vladimir Kobrin writes: “If to trust the annalistic story, then it is easy to calculate that about 20-30 thousand people had to die. Even big numbers are given by foreign authors. They, however, are improbable: all population of Novgorod did not exceed 30 thousand people at this time. In other Novgorod chronicle there is a message that through seven with small months after “monarchic disorder“ in Novgorod solemn burial service of the victims buried in one big mass grave (“skudelnitsa“) took place. The grave was opened and counted bodies; them there were 10 thousand. Whether but only this place of burial of the dead? Possibly, all - the figure of 10-15 thousand people will be close to truth“.

Anyway, disorder of Novgorod by oprichnik army under personal leadership of the tsar Ivan was the terrible, so not taking place in the Russian history example of massacre of many thousands of innocent people. Even during lifetime of Grozny nobody believed in change of such XVI century of a number of people, huge for the end.

Be continued.