Ivan IV of Russia is often called ‘Ivan the Terrible’. But how did Ivan receive such as awful name? What did he do to deserve being called ‘terrible’? This post will tell you just why Ivan IV is called Ivan the Terrible.
Why was Ivan IV called the ‘Terrible’?
Ivan IV was the Grand Prince of Moscow from 1533 to his death in 1584. While he expanded the Russian empire and brought about many important changes for the Russian people, he suffered from poor mental health. In 1560, Ivan IV thought that many of his top military personnel were responsible for the poisoning of his wife and suspected them of trying to replace Ivan IV with his cousin. Additionally, those military personnel refused to swear an oath of allegiance to Ivan’s son when Ivan was very sick. This led to Ivan IV killing many of his top military members. He reportedly also asked Queen Elizabeth I of England for asylum at times, showing his deteriorating mental health at the time.
Later in life, Ivan IV also did several other things that led to him being given the name ‘terrible’. He was very mentally unstable- praying and fasting one week and then participating in orgies the next week! His followers were instructed to burn and pillage many towns and villages for no good reason. At least two thousands people would have been killed at Ivan’s request.
The last act that shows how terrible Ivan IV was is really awful! Ivan IV beat his daughter-in-law for wearing immodest clothing. It is believed that this action caused her to lose her child (miscarriage). His son (also called Ivan) confronted his father over this action and Ivan IV hit his son in the head with a pointed staff. This caused the death of Ivan’s son.
So now you now why Ivan IV is called ‘Terrible’. He was mentally unstable, ordering the deaths of innocent people and believing his loyal military personnel to be plotting against him.