centralized government

centralized government

Ivan the Terrible Russia's first Tsar [FULL VIDEO]

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Ivan the Terrible, Russia's first Tsar, led a brutal and unpredictable life. A renowned sadist, Ivan was the originator of Russia's secret police. He fortified walls to counter the advancing age of artillery, expanded the borders of his nation. Ivan IV Vasilyevich (Russian: Ива́н Васи́льевич; 25 August 1530 -- 28 March [O.S. 18 March] 1584), known in English as Ivan the Terrible (Russian: About this sound Ива́н Гро́зный​ (help·info), Ivan Grozny; lit. Fearsome), was the Grand Prince of Moscow from 1533 to 1547 and Tsar of All the Russias from 1547 until his death. His long reign saw the conquest of the Khanates of Kazan, Astrakhan, and Siberia, transforming Russia into a multiethnic and multiconfessional state spanning almost one billion acres, approximately 4,046,856 km2 (1,562,500 sq mi). Ivan managed countless changes in the progression from a medieval state to an empire and emerging regional power, and became the first ruler to be crowned as Tsar of All the Russias. Historic sources present disparate accounts of Ivan's complex personality: he was described as intelligent and devout, yet given to rages and prone to episodic outbreaks of mental illness. In one such outburst he killed his groomed and chosen heir Ivan Ivanovich. This left the Tsardom to be passed to Ivan's younger son, the weak and intellectually disabled Feodor Ivanovich. Ivan's legacy is complex: he was an able diplomat, a patron of arts and trade, founder of Russia's first Print Yard, a leader highly popular among the common people of Russia, but he is also remembered for his paranoia and arguably harsh treatment of the nobility. For centuries after Ivan's death historians have developed different hypotheses to better understand his reign, which undeniably changed Russian history and continues in popular imagination. His political legacy completely altered the Russian governmental structure; his economic policies ultimately contributed to the end of the Rurik Dynasty, and his social legacy lives on in unexpected places. Arguably Ivan's most important legacy can be found in the political changes that he enacted in Russia. In the words of historian Alexander Yanov, "Ivan the Terrible and the origins of the modern Russian political structure [are]... indissolubly connected." Ivan's political revolution surpassed the symbolic power of his title by significantly altering Russia's political structure. The creation of the Oprichnina diminished the power of the boyars to create a more centralized government. "...the revolution of Tsar Ivan was an attempt to transform an absolutist political structure into a despotism... the Oprichnina proved to be not only the starting point, but also the nucleus of autocracy which determined... the entire subsequent historical process in Russia." Ivan created a way to bypass the Mestnichestvo system and elevate the men among the gentry to positions of power, thus suppressing the aristocracy that failed to support him. The structure of local governments was altered to include, "a combination of centrally appointed and locally elected officials. Despite later modifications, this form of local administration proved to be functional and durable." Ivan successfully cemented autocracy and a centralized government and thereby also "a centralized apparatus of political control in the form of his own guard." The idea of a guard as a means of political control became so ingrained in Russian history that it can be traced to Peter the Great, Vladimir Lenin, who "... [provided] Russian autocracy with its Communist incarnation", and Joseph Stalin, who "[placed] the political police over the party." Yanov concludes that "Czar Ivan's monstrous invention [i.e. the guard] has thus dominated the entire course of Russian history."