Тема / Топик по английскому языку:
Ivan the Terrible

Probably one of the most famous figures in Russian history is Ivan IV, called the Terrible because of his cruelty.

He ruled in the period when boyars, Russian hereditary landlords, were fast losing their political power, their lands, and sometimes, due to Ivan IV, their lives. On the other hand, more and more power was given to dvoryane, service landlords.

The three-year-old Ivan IV became grand prince in 1533, after the death of his father, Vasiliy III. At first his mother, Yelena Glinsky, ruled instead of his son. After her death in 1538 the Shuiskys and Belskys struggled for the throne. In 1547 Ivan IV was crowned tsar of all Russia. In 1549 the first zemsky sobor was held.

Ivan IV decided that all landowners should begin military service when they were 15, and serve till the end of their lives. He created also a standing army, streltsy. This was necessary because Russia had many enemies. Tatars of Kazan, Astrakhan and the Crimea continued to raid the territory of Russia. The Livonian knights blocked Russia’s access to the Baltic Sea.

Ivan first began a campaign against Kazan and defeated it in 1552. In 1554-1556 his armies took Astrakhan, thus getting for Russia the Volga Valley and the way to the Caspian Sea.

The tsar’s chief interest lay in trade with the West through the Baltic. He began a war against Livonia which lasted 24 years and ended in nothing: in the end Russia lost everything it had conquered earlier during the war.

In 1553, Ivan fell seriously ill. Thinking he was close to death, he wanted boyars to give an oath in their loyalty to his son Dmitry. Boyars didn’t want to; moreover, one of them, a close companion of Ivan IV, suddenly escaped to Lithuania. Ivan IV left Moscow for the town of Alexandrov, and set up a state within a state, called «Oprichnina». The rest of the land was called «Zemshchina», where the boyar duma continued to govern. He also organized a new guard, Opritchniki, who were famous for their cruelty. They numbered several thousands and killed many boyars and other people Ivan thought of as enemies. They also confiscated their property. The Oprichniki were ordered to wipe out «treason» in both Oprichnina and Zemschina. Ivan’s cruelty lead to a number of risings. The Oprichnina was abolished in 1572.

Ivan IV died in 1584. Though known for his cruelty, he is also famous for getting for Russia access to the Baltic and for beginning the struggle with boyars, who were hereditary landlords, for the power of dvoryane, service landlords. He is undoubtedly one of the most famous figures in Russian history.

Topical Vocabulary

- to rule
a hereditary landlord
наследственный землевладелец
to lose one’s political power
потерять политическую власть
a service landlord
землевладелец, получивший землю на время службы
- to become grand prince
стать великим князем
to struggle for the throne
бороться за трон
to begin military service
начать военную службу
to serve
to create a standing army
создать постоянную армию
to raid the territory of Russia
совершать набеги на территорию Руси
the Livonian knights
ливонские рыцари
to block Russia’s access to
блокировать выход России к (Балтийскому морю)
- to begin a campaign against
начать кампанию против (чего-либо)
to defeat smb.
победить кого-либо
to take (a city)
взять (город)
- one’s chief interest
главная цель, интерес
to lie in smth.
заключаться в чем-либо
to conquer smth.
завоевать что-либо
- to give an oath in one’s loyalty to smb.
дать клятву в верности кому-либо
to escape to
сбежать в (Литву)
to set up a state within a state
основать государство внутри государства
to govern
to organize a guard
организовать войско, гвардию
to confiscate one’s property
конфисковать, отобрать собственность
to wipe out «treason»
стереть «измену» с лица земли
to abolish
- to get for Russia access to
открыть для России выход к (Балтике)

Answer the questions:

  1. When did Ivan IV rule?
  2. When and how did he become tsar of Russia?
  3. How did he reorganize the army?
  4. What military campaigns did he begin?
  5. What did he set up Oprichnina and create a new guard for?
  6. What is Ivan IV noted for?

Translate into English:

  1. Иван Грозный, известный своей жестокостью, правил в период, когда бояре теряли политическую власть.
  2. Наследственные землевладельцы, бояре, теряли власть; дворяне, которые получали землю за службу, приобретали все большую власть.
  3. Иван IV, ставший великим князем после смерти отца, был коронован в 1538 году.
  4. При Иване Грозном землевладельцы начинали нести службу в 15 лет и служили всю жизнь.
  5. Чтобы защитить (protect) Россию от врагов, Иван Грозный создал постоянную армию.
  6. Иван Грозный начал кампанию против татар, совершавших набеги на территорию России, и победил их.
  7. Главной целью Ивана IV была организация торговли с Западом.
  8. Россия начала войну с Ливонией; сначала она одержала ряд побед, но в конце концов потеряла все, что завоевала вначале.
  9. Бояре не захотели давать клятву в верности сыну Ивана Грозного.
  10. Иван IV организовал новую армию, воины которой назывались опричниками и насчитывали несколько тысяч человек; они должны были уничтожить «измену» в опричнине и земщине.
  11. Иван Грозный знаменит не только своей жестокостью, но и тем, что он завоевал для России выход к Балтийскому морю.