Skip to Main Content

Ivan the Terrible: First Tsar of Russia


Who was Ivan the Terrible

Ivan the Terrible, Russian Ivan Grozny, byname of Ivan Vasilyevich, also called Ivan IV, (born August 25, 1530, Kolomenskoye, near Moscow [Russia]—died March 18, 1584, Moscow), grand prince of Moscow (1533–84) and the first to be proclaimed tsar of Russia (from 1547). His reign saw the completion of the construction of a centrally administered Russian state and the creation of an empire that included non-Slav states. Ivan engaged in prolonged and largely unsuccessful wars against Sweden and Poland, and, in seeking to impose military discipline and a centralized administration, he instituted a reign of terror against the hereditary nobility. 

Ivan’s achievements were many. In foreign policy all his actions were directed toward forcing Russia into Europe—a line that Peter I the Great was to continue. Internally, Ivan’s reign of terror eventually resulted in the weakening of all levels of the aristocracy, including the service gentry he had sponsored. The prolonged and unsuccessful Livonian War overextended the state’s resources and helped bring Russia to the verge of economic collapse. These factors, together with Tatar incursions, resulted in the depopulation of a number of Russian provinces by the time of Ivan’s death in 1584. Nevertheless, he left his realm far more centralized both administratively and culturally than it had been previously.  Continue reading from Britannica


Serfdom in Russia


For hundreds of years, from as early as the 11th century up to the middle of the 19th, Russians lived in a feudal society. At the bottom was a huge class of peasants, very few of them free. Most toiled their lives away as krepostnoy krestyanin, or unfree peasants, commonly known as serfs.  From the 11th till the end of the 16th century the elements of serfdom were scattered among certain classes of the rural population.  Continue Reading from Russiapedia

16th Century Russia

Russia during the 16th Century is dominated by one figure: Ivan the Terrible, who has gone down in history as one of the most infamous leaders of all times. His long reign, firstly as grand prince and then as the first tsar, witnessed Russia conquer the Kazan and Astrakhan Khanates and expand its borders into Siberia but this coincided with a long and costly war in Livonia, raids at the hands of the Crimean Tatars and the madness and violence of the Oprichnina as Ivan lost his mind. His legacy even threatened the destruction of the state itself and led to the eventual downfall of the House of Ryurik.   Continue Reading from Rusmania


Books and Videos on Ivan the Terrible and Russia

Link to Ivan The Terrible by Alexander Filjushkin in Hoopla
Link to The History Of Russia To 1801 by Rosina Beckman in Hoopla
Link to ivan the Terrible First Tsar by Isabel De Madariaga in the catalog
Link to  Login to Download A Short History of Russia by Mark Galeotti in Freading
Link to Ivan The Terrible by Ryan Nagelhout in Hoopla
Link to Red Fortress : History and Illusion in the Kremlin by Catherine Merridale in the catalog
"We are not makers of History.  We are made by history." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
Return to our History of the World home page.