Ivan IV of Russia
Ivan IV of Russia, deemed Ivan "the Terrible" by the people under his reign, is probably the most famous insane ruler in the history of the world. Practically everyone, at one time in their lives, has heard the name spoken, whether it be in literature, movies, television, or brought up in conversation. Despite his notorious name, not many people know what Ivan did to earn his nickname, nor are they sure if he was actually insane or just a terrible person. Ivan led an unusual life plagued with horror and tragedy. He was a person who was brought up in an unstable, violent situation and therefore turned out to be an unstable, violent person. The key to unlocking the motives behind Ivan's terrible crimes against humanity is to learn about the life he lived and the situations that he was faced with during his reign.
Ivan's father was the Grand Prince Vasily III and his mother was the Grand Princess Elena. His father was a good man and a strong ruler, a man that ruled fairly but with a strong hand. The aristocrats of Russia, commonly known as boyars, were deceitful, cunning men always vying for power against Vasily. Ivan was born August 25, 1530, on a stormy night. This later was used as a foreshadowing symbol of the terror that Ivan brought upon his subjects. His younger brother, Yury, was born October 30, 1532. Yury was born deaf and dumb, but despite this, Ivan loved him very much and he was Ivan's only playmate in their youth. Vasily died on December 3, 1533 of an infection that stemmed from a saddle sore that he had let go untreated. His father left Russia to his son, then only three years old, who would rule until the age of fifteen under the regency of his mother and advised by the Council of Boyars. Ivan was a smart child who quickly caught on to the protocol observed within the palace. He was fascinated with Christian rituals, pilgrimages, and relics, having early on in his youth memorizing long passages of the Bible by heart. He connected himself to King David by relation to the emperors of Byzantium.
Prince Mikhail Glinsky was the de facto ruler of Russia after Vasily died until Princess Elena got tired of him. She falsely accused him of wanting to rule despotically and had him put in prison from August 5, 1534 until his death in September 15, 1536. Elena then had Vasily's brother, Prince Andrey, sent to jail in 1537 after he conspired to overthrow her son. He died six months later, and Elena had the 30 nobles who had assisted Andrey hung from the gibbets along the roads of Moscow to send a message to those who tried to rebel against her son. Elena's lover, Ivan Obolansky, was now ruling for her and her young son. Elena died suddenly on April 3, 1538, and immediately Vasily Shuisky took over and sent Obolansky to jail and his sister Agrafenn, who was then Ivan's nurse, to a nunnery. Shuisky was the first of a list of regents that came along, each one being removed from their position by...