The ivory throne of Tsar Ivan IV of Russia
Ivan IV Vasilyevich (Russian: Ива́н Васи́льевич; 25 August 1530 – 28 March [O.S. 18 March] 1584), commonly known as Ivan the Terrible, was the Grand Prince of Moscow from 1533 to 1547 and Tsar of All the Russias from 1547 until his death. His long reign saw the conquest of the Khanates of Kazan, Astrakhan, and Siberia, transforming Russia into a multiethnic and multiconfessional state spanning almost one billion acres, approximately 4,046,856 km2 (1,562,500 sq mi). Ivan managed countless changes in the progression from a medieval state to an empire and emerging regional power, and became the first ruler to be crowned as Tsar of All the Russias.
Historic sources present disparate accounts of Ivan’s complex personality: he was described as intelligent and devout, yet given to rages and prone to episodic outbreaks of mental illness. In one such outburst he killed his groomed and chosen heir Ivan Ivanovich. This left the Tsardom to be passed to Ivan’s younger son, the weak and intellectually disabled Feodor Ivanovich. Ivan’s legacy is complex: he was an able diplomat, a patron of arts and trade, founder of Russia’s first Print Yard, a leader highly popular among the common people of Russia, but he is also remembered for his paranoia and arguably harsh treatment of the nobility.