1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ivan
IVAN (John), the name of six grand dukes of Muscovy and tsars of Russia.
Ivan I., called Kalita, or Money-Bag (d. 1341), grand duke of Vladimir, was the first sobiratel, or “gatherer” of the scattered Russian lands, thereby laying the foundations of the future autocracy as a national institution. This he contrived to do by adopting a policy of complete subserviency to the khan of the Golden Horde, who, in return for a liberal and punctual tribute, permitted him to aggrandize himself at the expense of the lesser grand dukes. Moscow and Tver were the first to fall. The latter Ivan received from the hand of the khan, after devastating it with a host of 50,000 Tatars (1327). When Alexander of Tver fled to the powerful city of Pskov, Ivan, not strong enough to attack Pskov, procured the banishment of Alexander by the aid of the metropolitan, Theognost, who threatened Pskov with an interdict. In 1330 Ivan extended his influence over Rostov by the drastic methods of blackmail and hanging. But Great Novgorod was too strong for him, and twice he threatened that republic in vain. In 1340 Ivan assisted the khan to ravage the domains of Prince Ivan of Smolensk, who had refused to pay the customary tribute to the Horde. Ivan’s own domains, at any rate during his reign, remained free from Tatar incursions, and prospered correspondingly, thus attracting immigrants and their wealth from the other surrounding principalities. Ivan was a most careful, not to say niggardly economist, keeping an exact account of every village or piece of plate that his money-bags acquired, whence his nickname. The most important event of his reign was the transference of the metropolitan see from Vladimir to Moscow, which gave Muscovy the pre-eminence over all the other Russian states, and made the metropolitan the ecclesiastical police-superintendent of the grand duke. The Metropolitan Peter built the first stone cathedral of Moscow, and his successor, Theognost, followed suit with three more stone churches. Simultaneously Ivan substituted stone walls for the ancient wooden ones of the Kreml’, or citadel, which made Moscow a still safer place of refuge.
See S. M. Solov’ev, History of Russia (Rus.), vol. iii. (St Petersburg, 1895); Polezhaev, The Principality of Moscow in the first half of the 14th Century (Rus.) (St Petersburg, 1878).
Ivan II. (1326–1359), grand duke of Vladimir, a younger son of Ivan Kalita, was born in 1326. In 1353 he succeeded his elder brother Simeon as grand duke, despite the competition of Prince Constantine of Suzdal, the Khan Hanibek preferring to bestow the yarluik, or letter of investiture, upon Ivan rather than upon Constantine. At first the principalities of Suzdal, Ryazan and the republic of Novgorod refused to recognize him as grand duke, and waged war with him till 1354. The authority of the grand duchy sensibly diminished during the reign of Ivan II. The surrounding principalities paid but little attention to Moscow, and Ivan, “a meek, gentle and merciful prince,” was ruled to a great extent by the tuisyatsky, or chiliarch, Alexis Khvost, and, after his murder by the jealous boyars in 1357, by Bishop Alexis. He died in 1359. Like most of his predecessors, Ivan, by his last will, divided his dominions among his children.
See Dmitry Ilovaisky, History of Russia (Rus.), vol. ii. (Moscow, 1876–1894).
Ivan III. (1440–1505), grand duke of Muscovy, son of Vasily (Basil) Vasilievich the Blind, grand duke of Moscow, and Maria Yaroslavovna, was born in 1440. He was co-regent with his father during the latter years of his life and succeeded him in 1462. Ivan tenaciously pursued the unifying policy of his predecessors. Nevertheless, cautious to timidity, like most of the princes of the house of Rurik, he avoided as far as possible any violent collision with his neighbours until all the circumstances were exceptionally favourable, always preferring to attain his ends gradually, circuitously and subterraneously. Muscovy had by this time become a compact and powerful state, whilst her rivals had grown sensibly weaker, a condition of things very favourable to the speculative activity of a statesman of Ivan III.’s peculiar character. His first enterprise was a war with the republic of Novgorod, which, alarmed at the growing dominancy of Muscovy, had placed herself beneath the protection of Casimir IV., king of Poland, an alliance regarded at Moscow as an act of apostasy from orthodoxy. Ivan took the field against Novgorod in 1470, and after his generals had twice defeated the forces of the republic, at Shelona and on the Dvina, during the summer of 1471, the Novgorodians were forced to sue for peace, which they obtained on engaging to abandon for ever the Polish alliance, ceding a considerable portion of their northern colonies, and paying a war indemnity of 15,500 roubles. From henceforth Ivan sought continually a pretext for destroying Novgorod altogether; but though he frequently violated its ancient privileges in minor matters, the attitude of the republic was so wary that his looked-for opportunity did not come till 1477. In that year the ambassadors of Novgorod played into his hands by addressing him in public audience as “Gosudar” (sovereign) instead of “Gospodin” (“Sir”) as heretofore. Ivan at once seized upon this as a recognition of his sovereignty, and when the Novgorodians repudiated their ambassadors, he marched against them. Deserted by Casimir IV., and surrounded on every side by the Muscovite armies, which included a Tatar contingent, the republic recognized Ivan as autocrat, and surrendered (January 14, 1478) all her prerogatives and possessions (the latter including the whole of northern Russia from Lapland to the Urals) into his hands. Subsequent revolts (1479–1488) were punished by the removal en masse of the richest and most ancient families of Novgorod to Moscow, Vyatka and other central Russian cities. After this, Novgorod, as an independent state, ceased to exist. The rival republic of Pskov owed the continuance of its own political existence to the readiness with which it assisted Ivan against its ancient enemy. The other principalities were virtually absorbed, by conquest, purchase or marriage contract—Yaroslavl in 1463, Rostov in 1474, Tver in 1485.
Ivan’s refusal to share his conquests with his brothers, and his subsequent interference with the internal politics of their inherited principalities, involved him in several wars with them, from which, though the princes were assisted by Lithuania, he emerged victorious. Finally, Ivan’s new rule of government, formally set forth in his last will to the effect that the domains of all his kinsfolk, after their deaths, should pass directly to the reigning grand duke instead of reverting, as hitherto, to the princes’ heirs, put an end once for all to these semi-independent princelets. The further extension of the Muscovite dominion was facilitated by the death of Casimir IV. in 1492, when Poland and Lithuania once more parted company. The throne of Lithuania was now occupied by Casimir’s son Alexander, a weak and lethargic prince so incapable of defending his possessions against the persistent attacks of the Muscovites that he attempted to save them by a matrimonial compact, and wedded Helena, Ivan’s daughter. But the clear determination of Ivan to appropriate as much of Lithuania as possible at last compelled Alexander in 1499 to take up arms against his father-in-law. The Lithuanians were routed at Vedrosha (July 14, 1500), and in 1503 Alexander was glad to purchase peace by ceding to Ivan Chernigov, Starodub, Novgorod-Syeversk and sixteen other towns.
It was in the reign of Ivan III. that Muscovy rejected the Tatar yoke. In 1480 Ivan refused to pay the customary tribute to the grand Khan Ahmed. When, however, the grand khan marched against him, Ivan’s courage began to fail, and only the stern exhortations of the high-spirited bishop of Rostov, Vassian, could induce him to take the field. All through the autumn the Russian and Tatar hosts confronted each other on opposite sides of the Ugra, till the 11th of November, when Ahmed retired into the steppe. In the following year the grand khan, while preparing a second expedition against Moscow, was suddenly attacked, routed and slain by Ivak, the khan of the Nogai Tatars, whereupon the Golden Horde suddenly fell to pieces. In 1487 Ivan reduced the khanate of Kazan (one of the offshoots of the Horde) to the condition of a vassal-state, though in his later years it broke away from his suzerainty. With the other Mahommedan powers, the khan of the Crimea and the sultan of Turkey, Ivan’s relations were pacific and even amicable. The Crimean khan, Mengli Girai, helped him against Lithuania and facilitated the opening of diplomatic intercourse between Moscow and Constantinople, where the first Russian embassy appeared in 1495.
The character of the government of Muscovy under Ivan III. changed essentially and took on an autocratic form which it had never had before. This was due not merely to the natural consequence of the hegemony of Moscow over the other Russian lands, but even more to the simultaneous growth of new and exotic principles falling upon a soil already prepared for them. After the fall of Constantinople, orthodox canonists were inclined to regard the Muscovite grand dukes as the successors by the Byzantine emperors. This movement coincided with a change in the family circumstances of Ivan III. After the death of his first consort, Maria of Tver (1467), at the suggestion of Pope Paul II. (1469), who hoped thereby to bind Russia to the holy see, Ivan III. wedded the Catholic Zoe Palaeologa (better known by her orthodox name of Sophia), daughter of Thomas, despot of the Morea, who claimed the throne of Constantinople as the nearest relative of the last Greek emperor. The princess, however, clave to her family traditions, and awoke imperial ideas in the mind of her consort. It was through her influence that the ceremonious etiquette of Constantinople (along with the imperial double-headed eagle and all that it implied) was adopted by the court of Moscow. The grand duke henceforth held aloof from his boyars. The old patriarchal systems of government vanished. The boyars were no longer consulted on affairs of state. The sovereign became sacrosanct, while the boyars were reduced to the level of slaves absolutely dependent on the will of the sovereign. The boyars naturally resented so insulting a revolution, and struggled against it, at first with some success. But the clever Greek lady prevailed in the end, and it was her son Vasily, not Maria of Tver’s son, Demetrius, who was ultimately crowned co-regent with his father (April 14, 1502). It was in the reign of Ivan III. that the first Russian “Law Book,” or code, was compiled by the scribe Gusev. Ivan did his utmost to promote civilization in his realm, and with that object invited many foreign masters and artificers to settle in Muscovy, the most noted of whom was the Italian Ridolfo di Fioravante, nicknamed Aristotle because of his extraordinary knowledge, who built the cathedrals of the Assumption (Uspenski) and of Saint Michael or the Holy Archangels in the Kreml.
See P. Pierling, Mariage d’un tsar au Vatican, Ivan III. et Sophie Paléologue (Paris, 1891); E. I. Kashprovsky, The Struggle of Ivan III. with Sigismund I. (Rus.) (Nizhni, 1899); S. M. Solov’ev, History of Russia (Rus.), vol. v. (St Petersburg, 1895).
Ivan IV., called “the Terrible” (1530–1584), tsar of Muscovy, was the son of Vasily [Basil] III. Ivanovich, grand duke of Muscovy, by his second wife, Helena Glinska. Born on the 25th of August 1530, he was proclaimed grand duke on the death of his father (1533), and took the government into his own hands in 1544, being then fourteen years old. Ivan IV. was in every respect precocious; but from the first there was what we should now call a neurotic strain in his character. His father died when he was three, his mother when he was only seven, and he grew up in a brutal and degrading environment where he learnt to hold human life and human dignity in contempt. He was maltreated by the leading boyars whom successive revolutions placed at the head of affairs, and hence he conceived an inextinguishable hatred of their whole order and a corresponding fondness for the merchant class, their natural enemies. At a very early age he entertained an exalted idea of his own divine authority, and his studies were largely devoted to searching in the Scriptures and the Slavonic chronicles for sanctions and precedents for the exercise and development of his right divine. He first asserted his power by literally throwing to the dogs the last of his boyar tyrants, and shortly afterwards announced his intention of assuming the title of tsar, a title which his father and grandfather had coveted but never dared to assume publicly. On the 16th of January 1547, he was crowned the first Russian tsar by the metropolitan of Moscow; on the 3rd of February in the same year he selected as his wife from among the virgins gathered from all parts of Russia for his inspection, Anastasia Zakharina-Koshkina, the scion of an ancient and noble family better known by its later name of Romanov.
Hitherto, by his own showing, the private life of the young tsar had been unspeakably abominable, but his sensitive conscience (he was naturally religious) induced him, in 1550, to summon a Zemsky Sobor or national assembly, the first of its kind, to which he made a curious public confession of the sins of his youth, and at the same time promised that the realm of Russia (for whose dilapidation he blamed the boyar regents) should henceforth be governed justly and mercifully. In 1551 the tsar submitted to a synod of prelates a hundred questions as to the best mode of remedying existing evils, for which reason the decrees of this synod are generally called stoglav or centuria. The decennium extending from 1550 to 1560 was the good period of Ivan IV.’s reign, when he deliberately broke away from his disreputable past and surrounded himself with good men of lowly origin. It was not only that he hated and distrusted the boyars, but he was already statesman enough to discern that they could not be fitted into the new order of things which he aimed at introducing. Ivan meditated the regeneration of Muscovy, and the only men who could assist him in his task were men who could look steadily forward to the future because they had no past to look back upon, men who would unflinchingly obey their sovereign because they owed their whole political significance to him alone. The chief of these men of good-will were Alexis Adashev and the monk Sylvester, men of so obscure an origin that almost every detail of their lives is conjectural, but both of them, morally, the best Muscovites of their day. Their influence upon the young tsar was profoundly beneficial, and the period of their administration coincides with the most glorious period of Ivan’s reign—the period of the conquest of Kazan and Astrakhan.
In the course of 1551 one of the factions of Kazan offered the whole khanate to the young tsar, and on the 20th of August 1552 he stood before its walls with an army of 150,000 men and 50 guns. The siege was long and costly; the army suffered severely; and only the tenacity of the tsar kept it in camp for six weeks. But on the 2nd of October the fortress, which had been heroically defended, was taken by assault. The conquest of Kazan was an epoch-making event in the history of eastern Europe. It was not only the first territorial conquest from the Tatars, before whom Muscovy had humbled herself for generations; at Kazan Asia, in the name of Mahomet, had fought behind its last trench against Christian Europe marshalled beneath the banner of the tsar of Muscovy. For the first time the Volga became a Russian river. Nothing could now retard the natural advance of the young Russian state towards the east and the south-east. In 1554 Astrakhan fell almost without a blow. By 1560 all the Finnic and Tatar tribes between the Oka and the Kama had become Russian subjects. Ivan was also the first tsar who dared to attack the Crimea. In 1555 he sent Ivan Sheremetev against Perekop, and Sheremetev routed the Tatars in a great two days’ battle at Sudbishenska. Some of Ivan’s advisers, including both Sylvester and Adashev, now advised him to make an end of the Crimean khanate, as he had already made an end of the khanates of Kazan and Astrakhan. But Ivan, wiser in his generation, knew that the thing was impossible, in view of the immense distance to be traversed, and the predominance of the Grand Turk from whom it would have to be wrested. It was upon Livonia that his eyes were fixed, which was comparatively near at hand and promised him a seaboard and direct communication with western Europe. Ivan IV., like Peter I. after him, clearly recognized the necessity of raising Muscovy to the level of her neighbours. He proposed to do so by promoting a wholesale immigration into his tsardom of master-workmen and skilled artificers. But all his neighbours, apprehensive of the consequences of a civilized Muscovy, combined to thwart him. Charles V. even went so far as to disperse 123 skilled Germans whom Ivan’s agent had collected and brought to Lübeck for shipment to a Baltic port. After this, Ivan was obliged to help himself as best he could. His opportunity seemed to have come when, in the middle of the 16th century, the Order of the Sword broke up, and the possession of Livonia was fiercely contested between Sweden, Poland and Denmark. Ivan intervened in 1558 and quickly captured Narva, Dorpat and a dozen smaller fortresses; then, in 1560, Livonia placed herself beneath the protection of Poland, and King Sigismund II. warned Ivan off the premises.
By this time, Ivan had entered upon the second and evil portion of his reign. As early as 1553 he had ceased to trust Sylvester and Adashev, owing to their extraordinary backwardness in supporting the claims of his infant son to the throne while he himself lay at the point of death. The ambiguous and ungrateful conduct of the tsar’s intimate friends and protégés on this occasion has never been satisfactorily explained, and he had good reason to resent it. Nevertheless, on his recovery, much to his credit, he overlooked it, and they continued to direct affairs for six years longer. Then the dispute about the Crimea arose, and Ivan became convinced that they were mediocre politicians as well as untrustworthy friends. In 1560 both of them disappeared from the scene, Sylvester into a monastery at his own request, while Adashev died the same year, in honourable exile as a general in Livonia. The death of his deeply beloved consort Anastasia and his son Demetrius, and the desertion of his one bosom friend Prince Kurbsky, about the same time, seem to have infuriated Ivan against God and man. During the next ten years (1560–1570) terrible and horrible things happened in the realm of Muscovy. The tsar himself lived in an atmosphere of apprehension, imagining that every man’s hand was against him. On the 3rd of December 1564 he quitted Moscow with his whole family. On the 3rd of January 1565 he declared in an open letter addressed to the metropolitan his intention to abdicate. The common people, whom he had always favoured at the expense of the boyars, thereupon implored him to come back on his own terms. He consented to do so, but entrenched himself within a peculiar institution, the oprichina or “separate estate.” Certain towns and districts all over Russia were separated from the rest of the realm, and their revenues were assigned to the maintenance of the tsar’s new court and household, which was to consist of 1000 carefully selected boyars and lower dignitaries, with their families and suites, in the midst of whom Ivan henceforth lived exclusively. The oprichina was no constitutional innovation. The duma, or council, still attended to all the details of the administration; the old boyars still retained their ancient offices and dignities. The only difference was that the tsar had cut himself off from them, and they were not even to communicate with him except on extraordinary and exceptional occasions. The oprichniki, as being the exclusive favourites of the tsar, naturally, in their own interests, hardened the tsar’s heart against all outsiders, and trampled with impunity upon every one beyond the charmed circle. Their first and most notable victim was Philip, the saintly metropolitan of Moscow, who was strangled for condemning the oprichina as an unchristian institution, and refusing to bless the tsar (1569). Ivan had stopped at Tver, to murder St Philip, while on his way to destroy the second wealthiest city in his tsardom—Great Novgorod. A delator of infamous character, one Peter, had accused the authorities of the city to the tsar of conspiracy; Ivan, without even confronting the Novgorodians with their accuser, proceeded at the end of 1569 to punish them. After ravaging the land, his own land, like a wild beast, he entered the city on the 8th of January 1570, and for the next five weeks, systematically and deliberately, day after day, massacred batches of every class of the population. Every monastery, church, manor-house, warehouse and farm within a circuit of 100 m. was then wrecked, plundered and left roofless, all goods were pillaged, all cattle destroyed. Not till the 13th of February were the miserable remnants of the population permitted to rebuild their houses and cultivate their fields once more.
An intermittent and desultory war, with Sweden and Poland simultaneously, for the possession of Livonia and Esthonia, went on from 1560 to 1582. Ivan’s generals (he himself rarely took the field) were generally successful at first, and bore down their enemies by sheer numbers, capturing scores of fortresses and towns. But in the end the superior military efficiency of the Swedes and Poles invariably prevailed. Ivan was also unfortunate in having for his chief antagonist Stephen Báthory, one of the greatest captains of the age. Thus all his strenuous efforts, all his enormous sacrifices, came to nothing. The West was too strong for him. By the peace of Zapoli (January 15th, 1582) he surrendered Livonia with Polotsk to Báthory, and by the truce of Ilyusa he at the same time abandoned Ingria to the Swedes. The Baltic seaboard was lost to Muscovy for another century and a half. In his latter years Ivan cultivated friendly relations with England, in the hope of securing some share in the benefits of civilization from the friendship of Queen Elizabeth, one of whose ladies, Mary Hastings, he wished to marry, though his fifth wife, Martha Nagaya, was still alive. Towards the end of his life Ivan was partially consoled for his failure in the west by the unexpected acquisition of the kingdom of Siberia in the east, which was first subdued by the Cossack hetman Ermak or Yermak in 1581.
In November 1580 Ivan in a fit of ungovernable fury at some contradiction or reproach, struck his eldest surviving son Ivan, a prince of rare promise, whom he passionately loved, a blow which proved fatal. In an agony of remorse, he would now have abdicated “as being unworthy to reign longer”; but his trembling boyars, fearing some dark ruse, refused to obey any one but himself. Three years later, on the 18th of March 1584, while playing at chess, he suddenly fell backwards in his chair and was removed to his bed in a dying condition. At the last moment he assumed the hood of the strictest order of hermits, and died as the monk Jonah.
Ivan IV. was undoubtedly a man of great natural ability. His political foresight was extraordinary. He anticipated the ideals of Peter the Great, and only failed in realizing them because his material resources were inadequate. But admiration of his talents must not blind us to his moral worthlessness, nor is it right to cast the blame for his excesses on the brutal and vicious society in which he lived. The same society which produced his infamous favourites also produced St Philip of Moscow, and by refusing to listen to St Philip Ivan sank below even the not very lofty moral standard of his own age. He certainly left Muscovite society worse than he found it, and so prepared the way for the horrors of “the Great Anarchy.” Personally, Ivan was tall and well-made, with high shoulders and a broad chest. His eyes were small and restless, his nose hooked, he had a beard and moustaches of imposing length. His face had a sinister, troubled expression; but an enigmatical smile played perpetually around his lips. He was the best educated and the hardest worked man of his age. His memory was astonishing, his energy indefatigable. As far as possible he saw to everything personally, and never sent away a petitioner of the lower orders.
See S. M. Solov’ev, History of Russia (Rus.) vol. v. (St Petersburg, 1895); A. Brückner, Geschichte Russlands bis zum Ende des 18ten Jahrhunderts (Gotha, 1896); E. Tikhomirov, The first Tsar of Moscovy, Ivan IV. (Rus.) (Moscow, 1888); L. G. T. Tidander, Kriget mellan Sverige och Ryssland åren 1555–1557 (Vesterås, 1888); P. Pierling, Un Arbitrage pontifical au XVI e siècle entre la Pologne et la Russie (Bruxelles, 1890); V. V. Novodvorsky, The Struggle for Livonia, 1570–1582 (Rus.) (St Petersburg, 1904); K. Waliszewski, Ivan le terrible (Paris, 1904); R. N. Bain, Slavonic Europe, ch. 5 (Cambridge, 1907).
Ivan V. (1666–1696), tsar of Russia, was the son of Tsar Alexius Mikhailovich and his first consort Miloslavzkoya. Physically and mentally deficient, Ivan was the mere tool of the party in Muscovy who would have kept the children of the tsar Alexis, by his second consort Natalia Naruishkina, from the throne. In 1682 the party of progress, headed by Artamon Matvyeev and the tsaritsa Natalia, passed Ivan over and placed his half-brother, the vigorous and promising little tsarevich Peter, on the throne. On the 23rd of May, however, the Naruishkin faction was overthrown by the stryeltsi (musketeers), secretly worked upon by Ivan’s half-sister Sophia, and Ivan was associated as tsar with Peter. Three days later he was proclaimed “first tsar,” in order still further to depress the Naruishkins, and place the government in the hands of Sophia exclusively. In 1689 the name of Ivan was used as a pretext by Sophia in her attempt to oust Peter from the throne altogether. Ivan was made to distribute beakers of wine to his sister’s adherents with his own hands, but subsequently, beneath the influence of his uncle Prozorovsky, he openly declared that “even for his sister’s sake, he would quarrel no longer with his dear brother.” During the reign of his colleague Peter, Ivan V. took no part whatever in affairs, but devoted himself “to incessant prayer and rigorous fasting.” On the 9th of January 1684 he married Praskovia Saltuikova, who bore him five daughters, one of whom, Anne, ultimately ascended the Russian throne. In his last years Ivan was a paralytic. He died on the 29th of January 1696.
See R. Nisbet Bain, The First Romanovs (London, 1905); M. P. Pogodin, The First Seventeen Years of the Life of Peter the Great (Rus.) (Moscow, 1875).
Ivan VI. (1740–1764), emperor of Russia, was the son of Prince Antony Ulrich of Brunswick, and the princess Anna Leopoldovna of Mecklenburg, and great-nephew of the empress Anne, who adopted him and declared him her successor on the 5th of October 1740, when he was only eight weeks old. On the death of Anne (October 17th) he was proclaimed emperor, and on the following day Ernest Johann Biren, duke of Courland, was appointed regent. On the fall of Biren (November 8th), the regency passed to the baby tsar’s mother, though the government was in the hands of the capable vice-chancellor, Andrei Osterman. A little more than twelve months later, a coup d’état placed the tsesarevna Elizabeth on the throne (December 6, 1741), and Ivan and his family were imprisoned in the fortress of Dünamünde (Ust Dvinsk) (December 13, 1742) after a preliminary detention at Riga, from whence the new empress had at first decided to send them home to Brunswick. In June 1744 they were transferred to Kholmogory on the White Sea, where Ivan, isolated from his family, and seeing nobody but his gaoler, remained for the next twelve years. Rumours of his confinement at Kholmogory having leaked out, he was secretly transferred to the fortress of Schlüsselburg (1756), where he was still more rigorously guarded, the very commandant of the fortress not knowing who “a certain arrestant” committed to his care really was. On the accession of Peter III. the condition of the unfortunate prisoner seemed about to be ameliorated, for the kind-hearted emperor visited and sympathized with him; but Peter himself was overthrown a few weeks later. In the instructions sent to Ivan’s guardian, Prince Churmtyev, the latter was ordered to chain up his charge, and even scourge him should he become refractory. On the accession of Catherine still more stringent orders were sent to the officer in charge of “the nameless one.” If any attempt were made from outside to release him, the prisoner was to be put to death; in no circumstances was he to be delivered alive into any one’s hands, even if his deliverers produced the empress’s own sign-manual authorizing his release. By this time, twenty years of solitary confinement had disturbed Ivan’s mental equilibrium, though he does not seem to have been actually insane. Nevertheless, despite the mystery surrounding him, he was well aware of his imperial origin, and always called himself gosudar (sovereign). Though instructions had been given to keep him ignorant, he had been taught his letters and could read his Bible. Nor could his residence at Schlüsselburg remain concealed for ever, and its discovery was the cause of his ruin. A sub-lieutenant of the garrison, Vasily Mirovich, found out all about him, and formed a plan for freeing and proclaiming him emperor. At midnight on the 5th of July 1764, Mirovich won over some of the garrison, arrested the commandant, Berednikov, and demanded the delivery of Ivan, who there and then was murdered by his gaolers in obedience to the secret instructions already in their possession.
See R. Nisbet Bain, The Pupils of Peter the Great (London, 1897); M. Semevsky, Ivan VI. Antonovich (Rus.) (St Petersburg, 1866); A. Brückner, The Emperor Ivan VI. and his Family (Rus.) (Moscow, 1874); V. A. Bilbasov, Geschichte Catherine II. (vol. ii., Berlin, 1891–1893). (R. N. B.)
- Ivan V., if we count from the first grand duke of that name, as most Russian historians do; Ivan II., if, with the minority, we reckon from Ivan the Terrible as the first Russian tsar.