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   October 1
 Survival Guide
Ivan the Terrible and the Times of Troubles (16th-17th Centuries)
Ivan the Terrible

In 1533, a three-year-old boy mounted Russia?s throne - Ivan IV (1533-1584), later known as Ivan the Terrible. He was the first Russian Grand Prince to call himself Tsar of All Russia (the word tsar is derived from Caesar). Ivan the Terrible conquered Kazan and Astrakhan khanates expanding the territory of Russia to the Urals and Volga region and opening the way to Siberia. He also initiated many reforms that led to further strengthening of tsar?s absolute power: administrative reforms, first steps to serfdom, restructuring of the army etc. Some reforms were clearly positive for the country but they were all carried out ruthlessly; Ivan?s crusades still shock with their relentlessness and cruelty.

Ivan the Terrible was also the founder of Russia?s first police state ("Oprichnina"), which was supposed to suppress every real and potential enemy. Black-hooded agents with dog?s heads, tied to their saddles as a symbol of loyalty to the Tsar, inspired horror and fear in the country. It was the time of terror when every sign of discontent caused ruthless reaction. Thus Moscow rising in 1570 caused executions of several hundred people. The culmination of Tsar's paranoia was the murder of his only competent son, whom Ivan the Terrible stabbed to death with his own hands. That hastened the end of the Ryurikovichi dynasty.

The Times of Troubles

After the death of Ivan the Terrible in 1584 his retarded son Fedor became Tsar but the actual ruler was Boris Godunov (1598-1605) who mounted the throne after childless Fedor's death in 1598. Godunov carried on rather successful foreign policy; during his reign new lands joined Russia, several military campaigns against Crimean Tatars were crowned with success; the patriarchate was instituted in Russia demonstrating the independence and maturity of the state; Moscow and other boundary towns were fortified. But Boris Godunov missed the most important thing ? people's love. He was accused of killing Ivan the Terrible's youngest son Dmitry and seizing power illegally. His sin was said to be the reason of horrible natural calamities, which caused failure of crops and famine in the country. Several peasant risings flared up and were ruthlessly suppressed; that only enhanced hatred for Boris Godunov.

Finally a pretender to the throne appeared claiming to be Ivan the Terrible's dead son Dmitry. He sought support from Poland, which was always at daggers drawn with Russia, and marched on Moscow with a big army (the Poles cleverly used unstable situation to conquer Russia). Godunov escaped execution as he suddenly died himself in 1605, but his son and wife were murdered and "False Dmitry" was proclaimed Tsar. Not for a long time though. He was killed by the boyars (the highest class Russian nobles) and replaced by boyar Vasiliy Shujsky. Shujsky in his turn had to deal with "False Dimitry No 2" and his Polish "patrons".

The Poles finally reached Moscow in 1610; Shujsky was then deposed. In addition to that the Swedes got active in the North capturing Novgorod. And only then, in those devastating circumstances Prince Pozharsky and his compatriot Kozma Minin managed to awaken the spirit of patriotism in Russians and to expel the Poles in 1612. This period of deposed tsars, false pretenders to the throne, wars and disarray is known as "the Time of Troubles".
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