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Thursday, 25 August 2011

Ivan IV of Russia ("Ivan the Terrible"), Russian Tsar

b 25 Aug 1530
d. 26 March 1584
r. 1547 - 1584

Ivan IV was Grand Prince of Moscow from 1533 until his death. His long reign saw the conquest of the Khanates of Kazan, Astrakhan, and Siberia, transforming Russia into geographically vast multiethnic and multiconfessional state.Ivan managed countless changes in the progression from a medieval nation state to an empire and emerging regional power, and became the first ruler to be crowned as Tsar of All Russia. 

Ivan was a patron of the arts and himself a poet and composer of considerable talent. His Orthodox liturgical hymn, "Stichiron No. 1 in Honor of St. Peter", and fragments of his letters were put into music by Soviet composer Rodion Shchedrin. 

Although he is better known in English as Ivan the Terrible, this is probably a mistranslation from the Russian: a more accurate term may be "formidable". 

Today, there exists a controversial movement in Russia campaigning in favor of granting sainthood to Ivan IV.The Russian Orthodox Church have stated their opposition to the idea

His last years alternated between debauchery and religious austerity.  He was married no less than seven times. But he was also attracted to young men in female attire. One of the most ruthless chieftains of Ivan's political police, Feodor Basmanov, rose to his high position through performing seductive dances in women's clothes at the tsar's court. The nineteenth-century poet A. K. Tolstoy (1817-1875) wrote a historical novel, Prince Serebriany (1862), set during the reign of Ivan the Terrible, where he described with great frankness the paradoxical character of Feodor: a capable military commander; the scheming initiator of murderous political purges; the tsar's bed partner; and an effeminate homosexual who discussed in public the cosmetics he used to improve his complexion and hair.


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Grand Prince Vasily III of Moscow, 1479 - 1533

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