Treachery in Ivan IV's Court, 1564



Ivan IV, also known as Ivan the Terrible, was the first "Tsar of All the Russias" and the man responsible for Moscow’s rapid expansion from small principality to enormous nation. Under his rule, Russia’s territory expanded by more than 1,560,000 square miles and Ivan’s armies finally succeeded in defeated the armies of the Kazan Khanate. Ivan also established several institutions like the Moscow Print Yard, created both a personal army and a new national army, and developed a complex bureaucratic system that remained the foundation of Russian government until 1917. Ivan also ruled as an absolute ruler and had a fervent hatred of his nobles, partially because of their frequent attempts on his life and partially because of their mistreatment of him in childhood.


In 1560, Ivan’s first and favorite wife, Anastasia Romanovna, died from poisoning. The event transformed Ivan into a paranoid and violent man, and he became unstable after nearly thirty years of peaceful rule. In 1564, Ivan abdicated the throne and issued an ultimatum that either he be granted the power to rule absolutely or he would not return. The public immediately clamored that his demands be met. You, the noble members of Ivan’s court of advisers, are tasked with negotiating Ivan's return, expanding and governing the newly founded Russia, and, most difficult of all, surviving Ivan's court.