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?

2 thoughts on “Ivan IV Questions

  1. Defining oprichnina: The oprichnina was a secret police of sorts that was instated by Ivan the Terrible to control the population after his concerns that the aristocracy was not being loyal to his leadership. After his brief abdication in 1564, Ivan IV decided he would return only if he were able to prosecute those traitors without the influence of the boyars’ (limited) “checks” to this authority. It was during this time that he hired the oprichniki to investigate, and subsequently never gave up this power to hunt those he felt were disloyal to him.

  2. Another insight to the concept of the oprichnina would be Vladimir Sorokin’s novel, Day of the Oprichnik (День Опричника). Although it’s not a recounting of Ivan IV’s oprichnina, it gives a more futuristic, almost sci-fi look into how the oprichnina would function in the outlook of another Russian society. After having read it, it definitely gave me a better outlook as to how gruesome and elite the oprichnina were.

    Also, speaking of Ivan IV’s paranoia, how come it wasn’t mentioned in the reading how he allegedly murdered his own son in a fit of madness. See Repin’s painting – link here: http://www.emersonkent.com/images/ivan_kills_son.jpg

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