Rus Articles Journal

Ivan the Terrible. Despot or builder of the Russian state?

So, we considered in 8 articles history of government of Ioann Grozny. Since the moment when it at three-year age became the sovereign vseya to Russia, and till the oprichnina period.

Remains, considering all positive and all awful sides of its reign, to give an assessment, having armed with opinions of the largest Russian historians - specialists in Ivan the Terrible`s era.

It was already mentioned that there is a big difficulty - when the khan Crimean Devlet - the Weight in 1471 burned Moscow, all oprichnik archive - all investigative affairs died.

At the disposal of historians - only memoirs of foreigners - eyewitnesses and participants of the taking place events. Germans Taube and Kruze, and also Shtaden served in oprichnik army, and there are their data “from the first person“. However the notes written by them are extremely tendentious, the quantity executed is called so huge that it is necessary to trust them carefully.

At the height of oprichnina in Moscow stopped drawing up chronicles, only a fractional information remained. From here difficulties of researchers who wish to be objective.

The historian of the XVIII century Vasily Tatishchev the first saw the outstanding sovereign in Grozny and with extreme condemnation treated “changes of some dissolute grandees“. His opponent prince Mikhail Shcherbatov, on the contrary, for the first time characterized Ivan as the autocratic tyrant violating justice.

Nikolay Karamzin suggested to divide the long (54 years) board of Grozny into several periods. In youth of the tsar there was a period of “nice acts“, but then in soul of Grozny there was some terrible change, and there came terrible time of oprichnina - “six eras of awful executions“.

The historian Sergey Solovyov saw in acts of Grozny deep state meaning, transition from backward patrimonial land tenure to the uniform state, to new system of sluzhily land tenure and the abrupt change of the internal structure of the state connected with it.

The historian Vasily Klyuchevsky saw the main conflict in deadly fight of the autocratic monarch with old well-born nobility to which the tsar could oppose nothing. He has nothing was to lean. From there is conclusion that the oprichnina founded by Ivan from the very beginning was doomed, the government system was inconvenient to the autocrat, but it began to exterminate individuals, and terror was not so much directed against specific boyars how many Grozny just beat to the right and on the left, without sorting what situation the victim. As a result, according to Klyuchevsky, “oprichnina, removing sedition, sowed anarchy and shook bases of the state“.

In the XX century though the policy inconsiderately interfered with researches of historians, there was the real break in aspiration to comprehend Ivan the Terrible`s era. The academician Sergey Platonov put end to works of researchers of the 19th century. He believed that value of oprichnina - in defeat of the aristocracy by Grozny and strengthening of the state. But terror in this process brought chaos and therefore results of government of Ivan were deplorable.

The historian Robert Vipper the first saw in Ivan ingenious historical deyatelya, in fact, of the founder Derzhava. In 30 - x years I. V. Stalin, the great admirer of the identity of Ivan the Terrible, so to speak, made revolution in historical science, its assessment of Ivan as “the great and wise statesman“ became only true and entered all Soviet textbooks.

But in Stalin years the historian Stepan Veselovsky, having done kropotliveyshy work, facilitated life to several generations of historians. Veselovsky established that, establishing oprichnina, Ivan the Terrible did not invent anything new at all, only copied such ancient governing body as the Monarchic yard on which both Vasily Tyomny, and Ivan the Third, and Vasily Ivanovich, the father of Grozny leaned.

Veselovsky the first called in question Klyuchevsky`s scheme that oprichnina was fight against boyars and “knyazhata“. The facts said that repressions were reduced to personal revenge and extermination of individuals, without destroying, however, the existing order.

Alexander Zimin in the same years came to a conclusion that about any defeat by Ivan the Terrible of nobility and the speech could not be. He considered that the peasantry fell the main victim of oprichnina, but, in fact, oprichnina represented fight for association of the country.

Recently died historian Ruslan Skrynnikov performed enormous work according to the estimates of the number of the victims of oprichnik terror on so-called “sinodika“ which were formed on a personal order of Grozny for commemoration of names whenever possible of most of the executed and killed people. So, the population of the young Russian state totaled the XVI century less than 8 million people at the end. The number of citizens did not exceed 300 thousand, but the main blow of oprichnik terror also fell upon it.

The enormous loss was suffered by sluzhily estate (noblemen, Sagittariuses, gunners and so forth) . That group which was considered as the main support of oprichnina - the landed gentry - actually itself very strongly suffered. Skrynnikov emphasizes that the most notable losses were undergone by defense capability of the state, the militia consisting of boyars, their armed servants, children seigniorial (average land owners) and noblemen - landowners was a basis of armed forces.

Oprichnina, Skrynnikov writes, struck the hard blow to spiritual life of society, the annals absolutely stopped. “The tsar brought down on the country “thunder-storm“ to eradicate disorders in court, abuses of officials and to protect justice. But in practice it led to unprecedented lawlessness, nasiliya and mass bloodshed“. The first attempt of the tsar Ivan Vasilyevich Grozny of foundation of the empire and maintaining great-power policy, aspiration to large-scale gains in the West (the hardest Livonsky war) terminated at the end of the XVI century in full breakdown. It is possible to believe surely that oprichnina became the main reason of the most dangerous system crisis of the Russian statehood at the beginning of the XVII century called by the Time of Troubles.

So, opinions of researchers of an era of the tsar Ivan Vasilyevich are contradictory, but some general moments can be seen:

1. The terrible tsar was not a founder of the Russian uniform state.

2. He the first in the Russian history made terror a basis of a state policy.

3. It began war with Tradition, with bases of the state, and suffered in it a crushing defeat.

4. Ivan the Terrible was never engaged in “eradication of nobility“, its terror was always directed against separate, to it personally hated persons, often casual people became the victims of terror.

5. Oprichnina as public institution had casual character, it is simply copied with early the existing establishments (The monarchic yard and the Seigniorial Duma).

6. Ivan the Terrible continued case of the grandfather and father on strengthening of the uniform state and construction of the autocratic monarchy, on this way he won a number of victories and a number of bitter defeats, but the result was negative.

In memory national was an inconsistent image of the terrible tsar: mad temper, state inflexible will.

To you it is not necessary neither to idealize the tsar Ivan, nor to draw his portrait as “main villain of all times and people“, it is the best of all to study his compositions which reached us and to learn a number of the facts which are eliminated by time from a heap of ashes as credible about Ivan Vasilyevich.

He was the living person overwhelmed by all possible passions. But always, perhaps, its acts were defined by understanding that he is the God put and only before God the responsible Autocrat vseya Russia, the successor of the ancestors, grand dukes Moscow, Vladimir, Kiev occurring from the Roman emperor Augustus and therefore his successor and his lawful receiver and the Roman Empire.