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Ivan the Fourth: Leader, Conqueror, Murderer, Psychopath

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  1. One of Cherniavsky's viewpoints is that Ivan the terrible did not truly deserve his epithet.
  2. This depiction of an overall ?renaissance mood? by Cherniavsky.
  3. Cherniavsky also refers to another writer's thesis.
  4. Changing depictions of the Tsar.
  5. At the end of the film, Eisenstein shows Ivan.
  6. The final assessment of Ivan the Terrible is by Hellie.
  7. The most believable explanation for Ivan the terrible's reign.

In medieval Russia, specifically Moscow in the early sixteenth century, times were beginning to change. This period of Russian history saw the end of Appanage Rus and the beginning of the Muscovite state. This alteration in political organization was centred upon the rule of one of history's most notorious names, Ivan Groznyi, in English, Ivan the Terrible. He was the first ever Tsar of Russia, his reign began as a rather unremarkable one, in the first half of his years in power were viewed by historians as successful ones, where he instituted reforms in the church codes, and military service by the gentry. However, this period shifted rapidly, beginning with the sudden death of Ivan the Terrible's wife, Anastasia. Ivan believed his wife had been poisoned, and carried out a campaign of vengeance against those he believed to be responsible, beginning with the supposed perpetrators themselves, and soon thereafter carrying on to their immediate family, friends and associates

[...] He states that ?Ivan by modern standards would be a paranoid? and later adds that Ivan had a classic symptom that paranoid individuals have, ?whatever threat can be conceived can be believed.?[26] He also speaks of another symptom, saying ?Ivan made erroneous judgments about threats posed by others, a basic feature of paranoia.?[27] Ivan also fitted the age range of people afflicted by paranoia, ages thirty-five to fifty, Ivan was 35 at the start of the Oprichnina and 42 when it ended.[28] Hellie's evaluation of Ivan the Terrible is a psychological one, focusing on his individual actions as a function of his paranoia. [...]


[...] In a later scene, Kurbsky is violently punishing Mongol prisoners and Ivan deplores the act.[15] Eisenstein thus shows that Ivan the terrible is seemingly at this point against the use of unnecessary violence, a stance he surely surrenders later in his reign. After the death of his wife, Ivan is shown a list of boyars who abandoned his cause and in an act of self doubt, decides to leave Moscow, with his newly created palace army, abdicating the throne until the people of Moscow beg him to return.[16] This exemplifies the leader's selflessness and at the same time humanity, distraught by the death of this wife he shows apparent weakness in the face of adversity. [...]


[...] All this helps further prove Cherniavsky's thesis that Ivan the Terrible was indeed only as terrible as the times and situation he ruled and lived in. Cherniavsky also cites Machiavelli in the way that he views all subjects, indeed humans in general as being inherently evil and selfish and because of this the leader can only act in an absolute, all powerful and ruthless way.[11] Once again, Cherniavsky implies that it is not the Tsar's own individual character which accounts for the acts he commits. [...]

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