Word of the Day - Sunday, June 5th


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Word of the Day


Clever Clue of the Month

The Cruciverbalist


Ivan (ee-VAHN)

·          Common clues: He was terrible; Rocky's Russian foe; Pavlov or Turgenev

·          Crossword puzzle frequency: 6 times a year

·          Frequency in English language: 10378/ 86800

Ivan IV (August 25, 1530–March 18, 1584) was the first ruler of Russia to assume the title of tsar. He is also known as Ivan the Terrible. (Ivan Grozny). This tsar retains his place in the Russian folk tradition simply as Ivan Vasilyevich, Vasily III's son.

Ivan came to the throne at age three and was crowned tsar at age sixteen on January 16 1547. The early part of his reign was one of peaceful reforms and modernization. Ivan revised the law code, created a standing army, established the Zemsky Sobor, the council of the nobles, and subordinated the church to the state, making a system of rituals and regulations.

Ivan formed new trading connections, opening up the White Sea and the port of Archangel to English merchants. He also annexed the Kazan and Astrakhan Khanates to the east. He had St. Basil's Cathedral constructed in Moscow to commemorate the seizure of Kazan. Legend has it that he was so impressed with the structure that he had the architects blinded, so that they could never design anything as beautiful again. Other less positive aspects of this period include the introduction of the first laws restricting the mobility of the peasants, which would eventually lead to serfdom. Also problematic was the 1564 formation of the Oprichnina (or Ochrana, meaning security). The Oprichnina was the section of Russia directly ruled by Ivan and policed by his personal servicemen, the Oprichniks.

The latter half of Ivan's reign was far less successful. Ivan launched a victorious war of seaward expansion only to find himself fighting the Swedes, Lithuanians, Poles, and the Livonian Teutonic Knights.

Because he gradually grew unbalanced and violent, the Oprichniks soon got out of hand and became murderous thugs. They murdered nobles and peasants, and conscripted men to fight the war in Livonia. Depopulation and famine ensued. What had been by far the richest area of Russia became the poorest. In a dispute with Novgorod Republic, Ivan ordered the Oprichniks to murder the inhabitants of this city. Between thirty and forty thousand were killed. Yet the official death toll named 1,500 of Novgorod big people (nobility) and only mentioned about the same number of smaller people. In 1581, Ivan Grozny beat his pregnant daughter-in-law for wearing immodest clothing, causing a miscarriage. His son Ivan, upon learning of this, engaged in a heated argument with his father which resulted in his (accidental) death. This event is depicted in the famous painting by Ilya Repin, Ivan the Terrible is killing his son.

Ivan died suddenly on 18 March 1584, a date which had previously been prophesied for his death. When Ivan's tomb was opened during renovations in the 1960s his remains were examined and discovered to contain very high amounts of mercury, indicating a high probability that he was poisoned, modern suspicion falling on his advisors Bogdan Belsky and Boris Godunov (the latter of whom himself became tsar in 1598). Upon Ivan's death the now ravaged kingdom was left to his unfit and childless son Feodor.

The English word terrible is usually used to translate the Russian word grozny in Ivan's nickname, but the modern English usage of terrible, with a pejorative connotation of bad or evil, does not precisely represent the intended meaning. Grozny's meaning is closer to the original usage of terrible—inspiring fear or terror, dangerous (as in Old English in one's danger), formidable, or awesome.

Ivan Petrovich Pavlov (September 14 1849 - February 27 1936) was a Russian physiologist who first described the phenomenon now known as conditioning in experiments with dogs. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1904.

Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev (November 9, 1818 - September 3, 1883) was a major Russian novelist and playwright. Although his reputation has suffered some setbacks during the last century, the novel Fathers and Sons is still widely regarded as one of the defining works of the 19th-century Russian fiction.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Ivan IV of Russia", the Wikipedia article "Ivan Turgenev", and the Wikipedia article "Ivan Pavlov".