Legacy of Ivan the Terrible

Topics: Ivan IV of Russia, Russia, History of Russia, Tsardom of Russia, Rurik Dynasty, Grand Duchy of Moscow / Pages: 4 (999 words) / Published: Oct 11th, 2011
In the centuries following Ivan's death, historians developed different theories to better understand his reign, but independent of the perspective through which one chooses to approach this, it cannot be denied that Ivan the Terrible changed Russian history and continues to live on in popular imagination. His political legacy completely altered the Russian governmental structure; his economic policies ultimately contributed to the end of the Rurik Dynasty, and his social legacy lives on in unexpected places.

Arguably Ivan's most important legacy can be found in the political changes he enacted in Russia. In the words of historian Alexander Yanov, "Ivan the Terrible and the origins of the modern Russian political structure [are]... indissolubly connected." [16] At the core of this political revolution stands the newly adopted title of Tsar. By being crowned Tsar, Ivan was sending a message to the world and to Russia: he was now the one and only supreme ruler, and his will was not to be questioned. "The new title symbolized an assumption of powers equivalent and parallel to those held by former Byzantine caesar and the Tatar khan, both known in Russian sources as Czar. The political effect was to elevate Ivan's position."[17] The new title not only secured the throne, but it also granted Ivan a new dimension of power, one intimately tied to religion. He was now a "divine" leader appointed to enact God's will, "church texts described Old Testament kings as 'Tsars' and Christ as the Heavenly Tsar."[18] The newly appointed title was then passed on from generation to generation, "succeeding Muscovite rulers...benefited from the divine nature of the power of the Russian monarch...crystallized during Ivan's reign."[19]

A title alone may hold symbolic power, but Ivan's political revolution went further, in the process significantly altering Russia's political structure. The creation of the Oprichnina marked something completely new, a break from the past that served

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