Good morning, today we are going to be looking at the life of Ivan the Terrible. The run time for this documentary is 52:23.
He was orphaned as a child. He was brought up in a system of political violence. He liberates Russia from foreign leaders. He committed his first murder at the age of thirteen. He was the first Tsar of Russia. Was he a harsh ruler who demanded absolute loyalty? Or was he an intellectual? Who is the real Ivan the Terrible? A criminal profiler looks for those answers. Additionally, Ivan’s face will be reconstructed during this documentary.
The descriptions of Ivan’s character are often contradictory to the picture of the man. Axel Peterman, a criminal profiler looks to create a profile of the Tsar. He turns to the records written in Ivan’s hands, instead of what comes down through history. The first impression he gets from Ivan is that the man was intelligent.
At the age of three, Ivan loses his father and then eventually his mother. His mother was most likely poisoned. Russia is ruled by the Boyars. The boyars are harsh with Ivan. He has to fight for his food. The boyars lock him in a room for no reason. He was often beaten. The boyars would have wished that Ivan would have disappeared. Ivan lived in a constant state of fear as a child. He would tap into these fears when he came into power. Ivan was at the mercy of his tormentors and he knew it.
In 1543, at thirteen, Ivan’s impotence turns to rage. He realizes he has power and he uses it. So he strikes back against the boyars. He turns a pack of dogs on the leader of the boyars. This leader is torn to pieces. The boyars grow fearful of Ivan and he knows it. He enjoys that he can cause fear. The dogs are an extension of him and they follow his orders. The act shocks the Orthodox Church and the church leaders will have to come to the task with that. A Monk is appointed his teacher and he learns to read and write. Ivan learns his family tree through these lessons and feels that he is appointed by God to rule.
In 1547, Ivan grows up under the supervision of the church. He marries when he is seventeen to Anastasia Romanova. The search for the bride was extensive before he selected Anastasia. She was his most loyal companion and was a calming influence for Ivan. Ivan is also declared Grand Duke of Russia and was named Tsar of the Russian Empire. After his proclamation, Ivan leads his troops against the Mongol Hordes. A victory would cement his place as a leader of the Russian people. He comes up with a trick that allows him to move fortifications quickly. Eventually, Ivan leads his troops to victory over the Mongols.
The Mongols are unstoppable in open fields, however, in closed quarters their soldiers are useless. Ivan retook the Kazan. This victory strengthens the feelings of Russian Nationalism all over the country and this nationalism carries down to the present day. There were songs written about Ivan’s victory. The peasants loved Ivan even though he was an autocratic ruler. This would be a contradiction to what history has talked about Ivan the Terrible. Ivan builds a church in honor of his victory over the Mongols.
Ivan in the first half of his rule reforms the law and sets up a parliament of nobles. He hammers down on corruption. Whoever violates Ivan’s law, is violating God’s will and is condemned to die. These are hints of the brutality to come in the latter half of his rule. Even by the standards of the sixteenth century, Ivan’s judgments were cruel. What drove Ivan to do these terrible things?
What portrait will the criminal profile paint of Ivan the Terrible? Did his childhood traumas make him the man he was? Does history get Ivan the Terrible wrong? Tune into the rest of the episode to find out more about Ivan the Terrible.
This was an interesting documentary about Ivan the Terrible. It was neat that the criminal profiler went to the original records to discover the real Ivan the Terrible. This would be a good documentary to show in a history class and for students who are working on a biography of Ivan the Terrible.
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