Domostroi ch. 1-11

During the reign of Ivan IV, the Domostroi was written. The book is a guide on the rituals of mundane life of the time period followed by those in the upper strata of society. It details the proper way of living as a Christian, as a good citizen, and as a human being. Throughout the first few chapters, we noticed reoccurring themes.

Being a household manual, it would make sense that the Domostroi would mention God, as the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church was ubiquitous in this time period.… Read the rest here

Maniacal or Misunderstood?

No one likes to be misunderstood; however, sometimes we cannot control how people perceive our actions. The two short readings on Ivan IV (Ivan the Terrible) present two contrasting narratives about his character and manner of rule. The first document is the account of Heinrich von Staden – a foreigner who served Ivan IV. The account describes Ivan’s seemingly unrelenting and unrestrained violence. He sacked prosperous cities, burned and looted churches, let his henchmen run wild, and killed countless kin.… Read the rest here

How Terrible was Ivan the Terrible?

Ivan the Terrible is a very complicated ruler to label as simply “a good guy” or “a bad guy.”  Both good and overlapped throughout his life, coming up at different times, but I don’t believe one is more prominent than the other.  Even more interesting and important to remember is all of Ivan’s personal troubles while he was young and how they could have possibly affected his future as Tsar.

Ivan was successful in bringing change to Russia, although it can be difficult to view his rule as a reformation rule.  … Read the rest here

Ivan IV, the Confused Puppy

The regime of Ivan IV was not terrible as his epithet might scream. Ivan’s reign was filled with rather level-headed ideas of the time such as more control over your kingdom and personal safety from enemy assassins. His creation of the district elders in cities and later other parts of the country made complete sense. Criminals needed to be punished without every petty crime involving the Prince. Ivan increased the amount of justice served in Rus’ and the communities in which these elders resided were happy to be rid of crime.Read the rest here

Ivan the Terrible questions:

Questions about the Ivan IV readings:

What was the significance of the oprichniki’s “brushes or brooms tied on the ends of sticks”?  When does this look like?

Why did Ivan kill everyone and plunder instead of taking over the lands to become more of a monarch of sorts?

On page 153 (second paragraph), it states Ivan accepts all the petitions that were being maintained for the oprichniki.  What was his motivation to do this?  Did he suspect foul play was involved?… Read the rest here

Questions on Ivan Groznyi

After reading the first-hand account of Heinrich von Staden, here are the questions I have:

  1. How often did Ivan IV ride out with the Oprichniki?
  2. Why did he allow for the burning of churches if he was a holy man?
  3. Why were all the places he slept all burned afterward?
  4. On pg. 153 it mentions “Aleksei [Basmanov] and his own son [Fedor], with whom the Grand Prince indulged in lewdness were killed.”  What exactly does von Staden mean by “lewdness?”  Was he implying that Ivan IV was bisexual?
Read the rest here

Questions About Ivan IV

1.) Ivan IV reigned over a period in Russian history where the growth of the central government was rapid and intrusive to local administrators. Was centralizing Russia a positive or negative idea?….regardless of whose in charge?

2.) What was the role of the Zemskii Sobor? The “Assembly of Land” took place centuries after Ivan IV, what does this reveal about Russian culture?

3.) How does The Reign of Terror represent Ivan’s irrational approach to ruling over Russia?… Read the rest here

Ivan IV Questions

Was Ivan well-liked or at least tolerable in the 1540s and 1550s, prior to his institution of the oprichnina? Does the oprichnina mark the period in which Ivan’s mental health deteriorated or was he extremely paranoid throughout his entire rule? What exactly was the oprichnina? I know it was a second, separate administration instituted by Ivan but what was its intended goal? Did the oprichnina have any other function besides its infliction of a reign of terror?… Read the rest here