April 4 in Russian history. Ivan III.


Ivan III

The grand knyaz Ivan III signed a treaty with the knyaz Mikhail Andreyevich Vereysky. According to the treaty, knyaz Mikhail bequeathed the principality of Beloozero to the grand knyaz. This will violated the rights of Mikhail's son, Vasily, and signified the new phase in Russian history: the annexation of the appanage duchies.

In 1382 the knyazes of Beloozero and Vereya, Fyodor Romanovich and his son Ivan, were killed in the battle of Kulikovo field and the grand knyaz of Moscow Dimitri Donskoy, the victor in this battle, became the knyaz of these districts. In 1389, Dimitri Donskoy devised the districts of Vereya and Beloozero to his third son, Andrey. Andrey was very young and the real ruler of Beloozero was a knyaz from the old dynasty, a relative of Fyodor Romanovich and Ivan. Soon Andrey grew up and acceded to the throne.

The heirs of Andrey Dimitriyevich, Ivan and Mikhail, split the principality into two parts. Ivan got Mozhaisk and Mikhail got Beloozero and Vereya. When Vasily II of Moscow (died in 1462) waged wars against the knyazes of Galich and Zvenigorod, Mikhail always supported Muscovy, while Ivan attempted to retain the autonomy and often opposed Vasily. In the end, Ivan had to flee to Lithuania and Mikhail remained the only ruler of the principality. Nevertheless, Vasily gradually limited his rights till, in 1482, Mikhail had to bequeathe the principality to Vasily. In 1483, Ivan III forced Mikhail's son, Vasily the Bold, to follow his uncle and to escape to Lithuania. On 9 April 1486 Mikhail died and Vereya, Beloozero and Mozhaisk got the new knyaz — Ivan III. After 1482 Ivan III signed similar treaties with many other principalities, including Ryazan and Tver. Vyatka and Novgorod were forced to obedience. Kazan was seized and the whole khanate of Kazan was annexed. Vyazma was taken from Lithuania after a 1.5-year long war. In 1483 Ivan Travin and knyaz Fyodor Kurbsky crossed the Urals and travelled till the estuary of river Ob, while the leaders of the native population pledged allegiance to Muscovy and became vassals of Ivan III. One could say that this was the time when Russia as we know it today appeared from a loosely coupled agglomerate of principalities and neighboring countries.


Russian history 57. Childhood and youth of Ivan IV.

When Vasily III died in 1533, he had two sons, Ivan and Yuri. The elder, Ivan, was only three years old. His mother, Elena Vasilyevna, ruled instead of him. She was a power-loving ruler. She imprisoned her uncle, knyaz Mikhail Vasilyevich Glinsky and the uncles of the grand knyaz, Yuri Ivanovich and Andrey Ivanovich, since they threatened her position. All of them died in prison. In 1538, Elena died herself. Some rumors say that she was poisoned by the boyars.

When she died, Ivan was 7.5 years old, and his brother was only five. The children had no closerelatives besides Ivan's cousin Vladimir, son of knyaz Andrey. Young Ivan was a defenceless orphan. In the old years, in such cases boyars and the metropolitan ruled instead of the young knyaz (for example, in the childhood of Dmitri Donskoy). The boyars of the old times really helped and protected the young knyaz, but the times had changed. First, the family of Shuyskies seized power. Then, knyaz Belsky won the rule, but the Shuyskies fought off. During the feuds the boyars didn't care much about the young grand knyaz or the metropolitans. They shown no respect or love to their monarch. They willfully replaced the metropolitans: first Daniil, then Ioasaf. Only the last metropolitan, Makarios, summoned from Novgorod, managed to keep his place.

During the public ceremonies the boyars demonstrated their obedience, but in the daily life, as Ivan himself wrote later, he and his brother were the most miserable people. They were not given enough food or clothes. When Shuysky came into their room, he used to sit and put his feet onto Ivan's bed. The boyars stole treasures from the knyaz's palace. The boy dreamed of the revenge and when he was 13, he revenged to one of Shuyskies, knyaz Andrey Mikhailovich. Ivan ordered his kennelmen to kill him. Ivan did not dare to attack the boyars and he had to hide his feelings. His only friend was the metropolitan Makarios. Makarios was well educated, owned a large library and in those years he was writing his famous collection of sermons, "Chetyi-Minei". Makarios raised the boy, taught him reading and writing and made Ivan a fervent reader. From Makarios Ivan learned the idea of Moscow as the third Rome and the desire to turn the duchy of Moscow into the orthodox kingdom. So, Ivan reconciled these qualities: he was well educated, active, bright, and at the same time he was acerbated, cruel and hypocritical.

When Ivan turned 16, he told the metropolitan and the boyars that he wanted to be crowned as the tsar and marry Anastasia Yurieva from a boyar (not knyaz) family of Fyodor Koshka (members of this family had the last name derived from the grandfather's name, so they had different last names: Koshkins, Zakharyins, Yurievs, Romanovs). In 1547 he became "the lord tsar and the grand knyaz" and married Anastasia. The new title had to be recognized by the patriarchs of the orthodox church and other monarchs. The patriarch of Constantinople blessed Ivan in 1561. The monarchs of other countries for a long time refused to recognize Ivan as the tsar and continued to refer to him as the grand knyaz.