Ivan IV, “the Terrible”, 1530-1584. The 1st Tsar of Russia.
Ivan IV was born in 1530 in the Grand Duchy of Moscow, Russia. He would centralize the government and thus become the 1st official Tsar of Russia.
Ivan’s father, Basil III died when the boy was just three years-old. His mother, Elena Glinskaya took up the reigns for the next five years, however after she passed away, Ivan was left to himself, surrounded by the noblemen (boyars) who were engaged in constant intrigues and fight for power.
Somehow surviving that period the prince was crowned Ivan IV in 1547. In the next ten years, the new tsar sought to centralise the government and conquer adjacent to Russian independent provinces. As the result a new tax system was introduced and local governments were introduced to regions that were located far away from Moscow.
Ivan IV was also successful at conquering the cities of Kazan and Astrakhan from Tatars. At the same time, things did not go so well when the Russian army tried to conquer Lithuania to gain access to the Baltic Sea (a goal that would only be achieved over 100 years later by Peter the Great).
The “good” period of Ivan’s reign reached its peak when he commanded the construction of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square. The building proved to be like no other at that time, and has stood in the square to this day. However, Ivan’s mental health seemed to have deteriorated after that. In the next 20 years he ruled guided by paranoia and installing terror in everyone. Towards the end, things got so bad, that Ivan would not spare anyone who was in the wrong place at the wrong time – his daughter-in-law had a miscarriage after the tsar beat her, the architect of the St. Basil’s Cathedral was blinded and at one point he even killed his own son.
*Following the “reign of terror”, Ivan has been given the nickname “The Terrible” by the historians. After his death in 1584, the country was left with no apparent ruler and chaos soon erupted…