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Published: April 25th 2020
Russia's first Tsar, Ivan the Terrible had 7 wives...3 died resulting in his remarriage following their demise and 3 were sent to a monastery.
G. Manaev in an Article "The madness of 3 Russian Tsars, and the truth behind it"
says 3 wives that died were poisoned, presumably by his enemies or the royal families, who wanted to promote daughters to be tsar's brides.
Ivan the Terrible had 8 children of which 4 were sons.
The first son Dmitri died in infancy...the second son Ivan was purportedly killed by his father in 1581...the third son Feodor succeeded him as Tsar and the fourth son another Dmitri was killed in dubious circumstances in 1591 at age 8 years following his father's death.
The deaths of the killed sons Ivan and Dmitri are steeped in infamy and intrigue.
Gotta love Russian history...histories that blow my mind.
Cruising the Volga...a working river lined with cities, towns, villages, residences, factories, churches, forests and ever present colour.
Russians caught in a moment...at work and play.
Sunsets closing towards rest to renew for the next day...time to wonder.
Music, song, portraits, landscapes, still life
in metal, wood, stone and paint...architecture and frescoes...ancient to modern...memories, perceptions and images of the past and present that is the social, political and imaginative preservation of history on show.
Which gets me to thinking that records of the past and present are often biased or skewed.
Excites me when I find this bias and skew in Russia.
History is written by the victor it is said...records of wars, conquests, deeds of men and women for future consumption inspiring monuments and texts how events are recorded for posterity.
Wendy Elliott in the Armenian Weekly could not say it better, "It is the conquerors who have the power to publish the books, control the media, and decide which facts are taught to our children, and which facts are to be ignored or erased. Whether we call it spin or propaganda or even “alternative facts,” the result is the same. The official history of any country reflects those in power in a good light, and either downplays or eliminates facts that would tarnish that image. Over the generations, we come to believe that version as the truth. But we should not believe everything we think."
are those in present times who claim Fake News
is distorting their place in history...pressing their own bias to consume the national perception and resultant remembrance.
Which brings me to the Tsarevichs Ivan & Dmitri...read on. This is fascinating. Ivan kills Ivan and history is rewritten
Ivan the Terrible the Grand Prince of Moscow from age 3...attained tsardom at age 16 uniting Russia...ruling from 1547 to 1584, with a year off described as a 'pretended abdication' in 1576.
He had a previous abdication in 1564 complaining of treachery of the aristocrats and clergy...accepting pleas to return on condition he was granted absolute power.
He adopted the concept of "Rule by Divine Right"
so in effect he could do no wrong.
Yet how to explain his deeds, massacres of perceived opponents and losses in some major wars?
Who am I to question?
His second son Ivan (his successor due to the infant death of the first Dimitri) had three wives. The young Ivan's first and second wives were both "Go ye to a nunnery"
on account of their apparent inability to have children. The decision to do so (presumably his father's)
was somewhat vindicated when his third wife Yelena Sheremeteva fell pregnant.
On 16 November, 1581 Tsar Ivan accused the pregnant Yelena of supposedly wearing immodest clothing and he began to beat her.
Hearing her screams, Yelena's husband Tsarevich Ivan hurried to her defence, shouting at his father, "You sent my first wife to a convent for no reason, you did the same with my second, and now you strike the third, causing the death of the son she holds in her womb."
She did have a miscarriage, some days later.
What right has a son to berate his father who is ruling by divine right? Talk about lack of respect!!!
The argument resulted in Tsar Ivan striking his son Ivan in the head with his pointed staff (some texts say it was with his sceptre), killing him.
Some texts have the beating of Yelena and the killing of Ivan as contemporaneous to his interception during the beating and others have the beating one day and the killing the next.
After the killing of Ivan, Yelena was sent to Novodechy Convent but unlike her two predecessors, she was not exiled far away from Moscow,
but placed in a convent near the court, where she retained her status as a member of the imperial family.
The killing or its aftermath is depicted in the famous painting by Ilya Repin, painted 300 years later between 1883-1885...titled "Ivan the Terrible and his son Ivan"
or "Ivan the Terrible killing his son"
Repin said he was inspired to do the painting following the assassination of Alexander II in 1881, the music of Rimsky-Korsakov and bullfighting he had attended.
He had a number of model subjects which may explain why it took two years to complete.
It portrays not the violence of the killing but Tsar Ivan exhibiting grief and despair...holding a bloodied Ivan in his arms.
Earlier versions showed the sceptre that delivered the fatal blow but it was not in the final version.
Other texts state that Boris Godinov, (Ivan's third son Feodor's wife's brother) intervened and was hit in the head by Ivan's sceptre.
Boris Gudinov figures in my next story as he became Regent for Feodor I who succeeded Ivan as Tsar and became Tsar himself from 1598 - 1605.
Repin painted a second version in 1909
Ilya Repin 1909
with similar postures but different background furnishings.
The 1885 painting is described as one Russia's most important artworks...and the most controversial.
Alexander III objected to it being displayed finding it offensive to display the first Tsar of Russia as a murderer...forbidding its display for a time until relenting to pressure from the Tretyakov Gallery.
In 2013 an open letter was sent to the Russian Minister of Culture by Orthodox Christian activists seeking it be removed from public display claiming the painting was offensive to Russians as it presented an untrue, distorted view of history.
The director of the Tretyakov Gallery objected.
The painting has been vandalised twice, firstly in 2013 and then in 2018.
The reports of these are excellent examples of the skew of Ivan the Terrible's legacy.
The 2013 Vandalism
On 16 January 1913, Abram Balachov attacked the 1885 painting with a knife, making three parallel slashes over the faces of Ivan and his son.
The director of the Tretyakov Gallery resigned.
The curator of the Tretyakov Gallery was so distressed he threw himself under a train.
Repin returned to Moscow from
1913 damage to painting
Photo Credit to Wikipedia
Finland to restore the work, stating the slashing was a result of a conspiracy against classical styles by modernism. In 2016,
the first monument to Ivan the Great was u
nveiled in Oryol, about 200 miles south-west of Moscow, to mark 450 years since he founded the town.
At the time, Oryol’s governor, said Ivan’s bad reputation was partly down to a foreign plot. “He was a great Russian tsar, the first real tsar. People present him as a tyrant and psychological deviant. But if you take European leaders of his period, they were many times more bloodthirsty, but in Europe they have monuments, and nobody minds.”
The 1918 vandalism
Wikipaedia reports, "The painting was attacked again on 25 May 2018 when an inebriated visitor to the gallery smashed the security glass around the painting because he believed it to be historically inaccurate. He used one of the metal security poles used to hold the rope to keep visitors at a distance."
Yet the Australian Guardian newspaper reports on 27 May 2018 from Russian agencies:
"Ivan the Terrible is regarded as one of the cruellest rulers in Russia’s long history: a
1918 damage to painting
Photo Credit to Wikipedia
bloodthirsty and paranoid tyrant who killed his own son. But the figure of the 16th-century tsar has recently undergone something of a rehabilitation in modern Russia with some nationalists arguing that the painting in question was actually part of a foreign smear campaign.
The State Tretyakov gallery in central Moscow said a man attacked the canvas just before closing time on Friday .
It said he got past a group of gallery staff, picked up one of the metal security poles used to keep the public away from the painting and struck its protective glass covering several times. “As a result of the blows the thick glass ... was smashed,”
the gallery said. “Serious damage was done to the painting. The canvas was pierced in three places in the central part of the work which depicts the figure of the tsarevich .”
The frame was also badly damaged, the gallery said, but that “by a happy coincidence”
the most precious elements of the painting – the depiction of the faces and hands of the tsar and his son – were not damaged.
The attacker was detained and faces being charged with damaging a
cultural artefact. Russian news agencies cited police sources saying he was a 37-year-old man from the city of Voronezh about 286 miles (460km) from Moscow. He faces up to three years in prison and a 3m ruble fine (£33,000), according to the RIA Novosti agency.
In the interior ministry’s video, the man says he recognised the seriousness of his crime. “I came to look at the painting,”
the man reportedly told police. “I wanted to leave, but then dropped into the buffet and drank 100g of vodka. I don’t drink vodka and became overwhelmed by something.”
Some Russian media cited him as saying he had attacked the painting because he thought the depiction was inaccurate. Russian nationalists who object to the painting and dispute the veracity of the scene have previously demanded the gallery remove it from display, which the Tretyakov has refused to do.
The Tretyakov gallery said it was convening a special commission of leading Russian experts to plan and oversee its restoration." Putin corrects the record
The Guardian reports:
"Battles over historical narratives in Russia have become increasingly heated under Vladimir Putin as the Kremlin pushes a more
positive, patriotic view of Russian history.
Though these controversies have focused largely on Stalin’s legacy and the Second World War, Ivan the Terrible has not been exempt.
In 2017, Putin weighed in on history’s understanding of Ivan. “Many researchers think that he didn’t kill anyone at all,”
Putin said, “and that this was concocted by a Papal emissary who came to Russia for negotiations and wanted to turn Orthodox Russia into Catholic Russia ... But after Ivan refused and told him to get lost, several legends began to spring up. They began to label him ‘Ivan the Terrible’.”
I guess Ivan the Terrible was a 'nice guy' after all...preconceptions corrected...intentions misunderstood!!!
Dimity on the Blood
After disembarking from the Viking Ingvar...a 1770 Catherine the Great coin in my pocket purchased from inside the bonnet of a car...down a path to a small church in a grove of trees by the river...stepping on the grass.
Is that blood on my shoes?
After the death of Ivan the Terrible his third then older surviving son Feodor I became Tsar at age 27.
His wife's brother Boris
Gudenov became defacto Regent as Feodor was of "feeble mind and body"
Ivan had a younger surviving son, the 3 year old Dimitri (Dmitry), the child of Ivan's seventh marriage.
Under Russian Orthodox Church law only three wives were allowed so Dimitri was probably illegitimate under Canon Law, but word was Boris regarded him a threat...having a potential claim to the throne as Feodor was childless.
So Dimitri and his mother were exiled to Uglich on the Volga, about 240 kms or 155 miles north of Moscow.
On 15 May 1591, Dmitri aged 8 years was found stabbed to death in mysterious circumstances...on the spot where I am standing. Accident or Murder?
History has a number of theories as to what happened.
1. Dmitri was killed by the order of Boris Godunov
, the assassins making it look like an accident (this version was supported by the prominent 19th-century historians Nikolai Karamzin, Sergei Soloviev, Vasily Klyuchevsky and others).
2. Dmitri stabbed himself in the throat during an epileptic seizure
, while playing with a knife (this version was supported by historians Mikhail Pogodin, Sergei Platonov, V. K. Klein, Ruslan Skrynnikov and others).
3. The official investigation, done at that time, asserted that the Tsarevich's seizure came while he was playing a svaika game or with a knife (v tychku) and thus holding the knife by the blade, turned toward himself. With the knife in that position, the version of self-inflicted wound on the neck while falling forward during seizure appears more likely.
4. There is also a version of Dmitri's fate, which found support with some earlier historians, such as Konstantin Bestuzhev-Ryumin, Ivan Belyaev and others. They considered it possible that Godunov's people had tried to assassinate Dmitri, but killed somebody else instead and he managed to escape.
This scenario explains the appearance of impostors, sponsored by the Polish nobility (see False Dmitry I, II, III). Most modern Russian historians, however, consider the version of Dmitri's survival improbable, since it is hardly possible that the boy's appearance was unknown to his assassins. Also, it is well known that many Polish nobles who supported False Dmitry I did not believe he was the actual Dmitri.
The Aftermath of Dmitri's death
Wikipaedia reports that the death of the Tsarevich roused a violent riot in Uglich, instigated
Church of Dmitry on the Blood
by the loud claims of Dmitri's mother Maria Nagaya (Tsar Ivan's widow) and her brother Mikhail that Dmitri was murdered.
Hearing this, enraged citizens lynched fifteen of Dmitri's supposed "assassins"
, including the local representative of the Moscow government (dyak) and one of Dmitri's playmates. The subsequent official investigation, led by Vasily Shuisky,
after a thorough examination of witnesses, concluded the Tsarevich had died from a self-inflicted stab wound to the throat.
Following the official investigation, Maria Nagaya was "Go ye to a nunnery
" and exiled to a remote convent.
However, when the political circumstances changed, Shuisky retracted his earlier claim of accidental death
and asserted that Dmitry was murdered on Godunov's orders.
On 3 June 1606, Dmitri's remains were transferred from Uglich to Moscow and his cult soon developed.
In the calendar of the Russian Orthodox Church, he is venerated as a "Saint Pious Tsarevitch"
, with feast days of 19 October, 15 May and 3 June. In the 20th century
, it is said the majority of Russian and Soviet historians have given more credit to the conclusions of the first official investigation report under Shuisky, which ruled Dmitri's death to be an accident,
Church of Dmitry on the Blood
notwithstanding his later retraction.
And what does this dancer think?
Church of Tsarevich Dmitry on the Blood
Thank you for asking...I prefer the murder theory...as I wipe what clearly looks like blood...from my shoes.
A small chapel was built on the site following Dmitri's death which was destroyed by the Poles in 1611,
A replacement wooden church was built in 1630 and next to it the larger St Michael the Archangel church.
Legend says that on the anniversary each year of Dmitri's death, blood came out of the earth.
This was seen by Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich in 1654, who presented a cross as an icon as a result...so it must be true.
In 1692 the existing Church of Tsarevich Dmitry on the Blood was built on the site in the fashion of the time...pink outer walls with white trimmings and turquoise domes.
The church is filled with amazing frescoes, those on the western wall depicting the events of 1591...but to this dancer's eyes they appear to depict elements of riots with mobs killing with rocks or are mythological in style.
The bell that was rung as a rallying cry following the death is the most treasured item.
It was purportedly whipped as if it was a person
and exiled for a time before being returned to cheering crowds.
We head off to lunch with locals Vladimir & Maria...consuming three vodka shots as we sit to eat...admiring their exquisite religious carvings and cloisonne jewellery.
Legends of Uglich spinning around us...its city emblem the 8 year old Dmitri...me constantly looking down.
Is that blood I see...still on my shoes?
Relax & Enjoy,
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