Russia -- Sergi F. Platonov


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Bio -- Sergi F. Platonov

 
     

Notes: see RU01 for updates

 

Sergei Fedorovich Platonov’s narrative, in his 1923, book entitled, Ivan the Terrible, contains many contradictory statements. This discrepancy arose from his selection of various sources. Platonov did this on purpose, and claimed to have had such a purpose. However, many modern historians have failed to grasp this purpose, instead inflicting erudite hodgepodge onto one of the greatest Russian historians of the late nineteenth to early twentieth century. Modern Russian historiography focusing on the late nineteenth century Russian historians take-out the personal approach by these historians’ claims and they replace them with the impersonal reproach, a typecasting of the individual into a generalization of the methodology of the school where this person had trained. This takes out the agency and free will of anyone historian and typecast them into a said tight-fitting box. This way, they are compartmentalized and easily organized into box-like generalizations. In Platonov’s case, typecasting caused many modern Russian historians to view him as a Russian historian of the St. Petersburg School of Russian historiography, and its said ways of thought and methodologies. Ample evidence in text of Ivan the Terrible proves his prose doesn’t fit into a tight-fitting box, a generalization for anyone one Russian typecast.

 

This stereo-typecasting allows some modern opportunists to prove him wrong.

These contradictions in the text have led to many mistakes by Russian historians claiming Platonov had this view or that view concerning the period of the sixteenth century of Muscovy and, particularly the Muscovite leader of Rus’, Ivan Vasilievich. This oversight has led to other historians repeating a Platonov view, in otherwise a vicarious testament to inaccuracy, mistakenly leading to further inaccuracies or disregard for historical integrity (albeit, haphazardly).

 The integrity for future Russian historiographers is to understand Platonov’s thesis, and to abide by it – thereby one will come to understand the contradictory narrative – and not fall short or be entrapped by its contradictory illusion.  Some Russian historians, such as Richard Hellie, a Professor of Russian history at Chicago University, have claimed that Platonov came from a rationalist background. This stereo-typecasting, of course, comes from the era of positive outlook in Russian schools of thought toward controversial leaders.

 

 Certainly the Age of Enlightenment established the Age of Reason signifying the use of the term.  However, the concept has been around since time began, and has been misplaced among its criteria. Platonov never used the terms rationality or irrationality in Ivan the Terrible. These words belong to current contemporary Russian historiography on Ivan Vasilievich. 

Russian historian, Richard Hellie, in the introduction to the English version of Ivan the Terrible, said, “He was a positivist and looked for scientific laws and regularities in historical events”.[1] In Ivan the Terrible, Platonov claimed on page seventeen of the English version translated by Joseph L. Wieczynski to want to reconstruct the period and of Ivan himself, and add back into Russian literature the “negative” way of looking at the Tsar. Platonov’s thesis raises concerns on modern historiography. It is quite possible that few Russian historians found his thesis or even any of them.

Platonov in the first chapter discusses his methodology and the historiography on Ivan Vasilievich, in which he illustrates the growing trend of evaluating Ivan in a positive light, and dispelling the prior trend of the evaluation in a negative light. Here, this shows Platonov understood what trend needed addressing.

 

 

This hint negated his career’s trend, if we are to believe Hellie’s general assessment of Platonov’s methodological training.  Hellie had understood Platonov’s thesis and gave a justification for Platonov’s mistakenly admitted thesis. He claimed Platonov was not well suited to understand what he was reading. Thereby Platonov’s claim, that is his thesis, was wrong.

 

I contend Platonov knew perfectly well what he was telling his readers, and Platonov even gave many justifications for placing back into Russian literature on Ivan Vasileivich the “negative” into the interpretation of this subject. Platonov’s justifications of his thesis demonstrate and understanding of how a historian supports his claim. Hellie, claiming Platonov as ignorant by admitting he doesn’t understand what he is reading, does not constitute an accurate picture of Platonov, but passes-off as an erudite expressionism, not well suited to the task of understanding a complex subject or its general purpose for an enquiry.  

 

The rationalism of Aristotle’s Universe has created a term, “rationalism” which has pervaded normal literature, and in our case Russian historiography of the twentieth century, and continuing. The term itself came into being with the translation from Arabic texts recovered from the many Islamic libraries, now back in control of the Christians authorities,  and the uncovering of Roman texts by excavations in Italy, in the proto-Renaissance period and continued during Northern Renaissance period. Notably, René Descartes, Johannes Kepler, a Galilee Galileo used the term to argue against Aristotle’s rationality of the motions of bodies in the heavens, and the forces behind them in his argument for his construction of the Universe.  Reason has always been in literature and writings and has never left. However, reason has been connected to the actions of man.  It may have many different forms, but remains a function of explaining things that pertain to the question of “why?” Platonov didn’t use the terms rational or irrational, in Ivan the Terrible. It has been given as a term by Russian historians to explain Platonov’s time and schools of thought, during his lifetime. It is vary hard to place into Platonov’s voice, a term he didn’t use or try to explain. In fact, for Platonov, there was no explanation for the time of Ivan or the controversial period of the Oprichnina. He stated there were not enough sources to reveal an explanation. There were no reasons to explain things because he didn’t know by the lack of records. Therefore, a rationality doesn’t appear to be the correct word to use when explaining Platonov’s work in Ivan the Terrible. What appears to be at issue is the terms, “positive,” and “negative,” he duly describes in his thesis. These two words have been replaced by the ill thought-out terms rational and irrational. These terms were used to describe the “nature”  of physical properties of forces on bodies in the Universe in scientific scholarship before and during his time. A research into how it was transferred into the literature in Russia academics remains another topic, all by itself. By the use of these terms, we now have to deal with the concepts of rational forces in nature conducting human actions. This complex interlacing of usages of reason bears a difficult resolve into any investigation. How do we tie natural rational/irrational forces into humans’ reason or no reason for his or her actions? Or unreasonable actions? They do not match in compatibility, and serve an ill suited purpose to try and force them into one grand paradigm. Man’s reason for doing something has no bearing on natural or non-natural forces of the Universe.

 

To Platonov, Ivan acted positively and negatively, and sometime, both adjectives acted in a human synchronicity.  Nature was not involved. Ivan may have had a reason, but it was not nature that gave it to him. However, irrationality has given historians an excuse to explain natural forces that do not make sense. Ivan was insane, for example. If Ivan was insane, how could he have done what the chronicles, and other sources claimed? It can be argued that nature created Ivan as insane, but this is not the argument of the historians. Most have placed circumstances of his childhood, and various other possibly life changing moments such as his first wife’s death, which had affected his mental stability as the cause. Some historians have said nature created Ivan deformed. Yet, someone who is insane still cannot manage to function in life as the sources claimed he functioned. Human’s make decisions, not nature? Nature happens, but we cannot discern it. It is observed as rational or irrational in the scientific texts of the great scientific thinkers during the Age of The Enlightenment. Ivan had to think, which takes the natural aspect of chance out of any interpretation.

The Oprichnina has been seen by some historians as having no purpose, therefore, it was irrational. How does nature ( or chance)  create the Oprichnina? Doesn’t man do this? If we turn to philosophy we ask the question if man’s actions are irrational. If we place the term into context of the universe, as it was only used in antiquity,  we can only describe irrationality as chance – there is no guiding/deciding  force – there is no reason. This was the understanding of the of today’s contemporary argument of the universe under intelligence design. In the Christian theological argument of the Age of Enlightenment, God sometimes was irrational – things happened by chance – Christian could not explain certain natural things happening in the universe. Neither could Aristotle, who used the word in his dissertation on the natural bodies in our heavens. Therefore, we are led to believe that Ivan acted by chance; there was no meaning we could determine. If we take this view, we leave Ivan with no agency. Therefore, he doesn’t exist. It would be absurd to contend he was a made up character in the sources, but this is how the term rational and irrationality became poorly used in Russian historiography ( and many other parts of the world, to say the lest).

 

 

 

The degree of insanity has not been medically demonstrated. Therefore, we do not know to what degree Ivan was insane, if we are to accept some interpretations by some Russian historians.

 

Hellie claimed that Platonov did not understand the Andrei Kurbskii quotes he used. This is because it contradicted Hellie’s award winning commentary on the book, which makes up the introduction in this 1974 translation into English. How could Hellie justify his thesis for his commentary on Platonov’s book, and allow this Platonov’s thesis to go unforgiven. Prince Andrei Mikhailovich Kurbskii’s writings deal mainly with the personal charactership of Ivan Vasilievich. Supposedly these two were friends, at some point in time. Kurbskii was a general, and was made a boyar in his later career, before he supposedly fled to Lithuania a year before the beginning of the Oprichnina period. Hellie claimed that Platonov’s lexicon was so rich, it was the best he had come across in any Russian historian ever. Platonov’s book is so complex that unless one reads it numerous times, strips its narrative, reconstructs the moments, one cannot appreciate its complexities. If a casual glance at a particular moment is all that is given in study for this text, one can perceive a myriad of views by Platonov, which are superstitiously in text. This is a problem associated with Platonov’s style of prose. He interlinks his narrative throughout the text while explaining things not in a chronological order, all to form an “image” of Ivan, which is of course, contradictory by its example. Therefore, it is easy to mistake him as to giving a certain view.

 

In Ivan's testament of 1582 which doesn't exist today, and those who saw the testament in the eighteenth century attest to his pleasure of separating himself from the boyars and the Russian state. In this version, "the words " banished by boyars" as used by the tyrant seem physiologically abnormal."[2]

 

Sergei Fedorovich Platonov's importance today in part stems from his work Ivan the Terrible. Platonov's work on Ivan is considered a standard among historians and may have been a rebuff of R. Yu. Wipper's first edition in 1922 on the Tsar. Platonov had said it was his apotheosis. Born on June 16 (28) 1860, Platonov would become the preeminent Russian historian after Vasily O. Kliuchevsky (1841-1911)  passed. Platonov was a grandson of a serf and his father was a painter. Platonov's History of Russia was leading high schools and university textbooks in the Russian Empire for more than two decades. 1  Platonov published periodically. His favorite tsar was Boris Goudonov.  His favorite era was the Time of Troubles, and his favorite region was Northern Russia.  He completed studies at St. Petersburg University at the age of twenty-two and went on to become a Private –dotsent at the University in 1888 and one year later achieved professorship.  Well qualified and respected, his career spanned two Russian periods. In the pre-revolutionary period,  he held the following positions: the Academic Committee of Ministry (1890 -1903 ), Professor St. Petersburg University (1899), tutorship of some royal heirs (1895-1902), Director of St. Petersburg Women’s Pedagogical Institute (1903-1916), leading to election as corresponding member of Russian Academic Sciences in 1908, and a full member in 1920,  and  became involved with the prestigious Russian Academic Sciences (1908). Post-Revolutionary, he held offices under the of Head of the Archaeographic Commission (1918-1929), Director of the prestigious Push-kin House of the Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Russian Literature (1925-29), and Director of the library of the Academy of Sciences (1925-28).2 With the introduction of the five year plan (1928-36) when the Soviet party believed they were in charge, Platonov was no longer needed. Platonov’s memoirs in two short articles written in the 1920s mentioned he was apolitical.  A lack of self expression to promote communism and socialism in place of scholarship integrity possibly determined the reason for Platonov's banishment from Soviet society.  In January 1930 Platonov was arrested along with twenty other academics. He spent the last years of his life exiled in Samara (now Kuibyshev) on the Volga where he died of malnutrition at age 73.

In 1923, Platonov published Ivan the Terrible. The methodology strikes similarities to his doctoral dissertation in 1901, the Ocherki. This was a move away from the St. Petersburg school of historiography and reflected the influence of the Moscow school of historiography and its ways of thinking. Nevertheless, Platonov retained much of the St. Petersburg school methodology.3  In Ivan the Terrible as in Ocherki, he divided up the era into major parts and subdivided themes into "moments." Platonov divided Ivan the Terrible into four major parts on Ivan’s era and subdivided themes into "moments" of Muscovy importance. Before Platonov started his work on Ivan, he gave us his views on the background of Ivan’s historiography and his methodology. 

Chapter I gives us Ivan the Terrible in Russian Historiography. From Prince Mikhail Shcherbatov's History of Russia to R. Yu Wipper's Ivan Grozny, Platonov acknowledges that Ivan and his times had passed through a number of stages. The most important after the 1880s were two schools of thought concerning Ivan and two ways of evaluating him.4 The negative evaluation of Ivan beginning with M.M. Shcherbatov (1733-90) eventually transformed into positive evaluations of Ivan by the time he considered his work on Ivan IV.   The negative evaluations of Ivan ranged from a confused leader or ignorant man to a man displacing pathological behavior or various definitions of insanity. The positive evaluations ranged from, Ivan as a capable leader to a leader that solved all the state's problems. Platonov's contemporaries, Pokrovsky. S.V. Bakhrushin (1882-1950), I.I. Smirnov (1909-65), and R.YU. Wipper (1859-1954), all idolized Ivan IV.  Concerned over this trend, Platonov wrote “perhaps the scales have shifted somewhat in the opposite direction; scholars now face the task of striking an exact balance between the extremes of the subjective evaluations portrayed above.” 5 He wanted to bring a balanced characterization of Ivan back into historical literature.

Two schools of thought expressed Platonov methodologies. His use of the scientific method would stress reconstructing the facts and attributing considerable significance to these acts of individuals.  Platonov followed in the footsteps of  mentor K.N. Bestuzhev-Riumin and others at The St. Petersburg school of Russian historiography. This school, with Platonov's initiative, slowly developed along the lines of scientific investigation.  In respect, the shining achievement had drawn to a close with " decisive victories of the scientific method " Platonov claimed. He looked at the main historical sources of his period-- collection of chronicles, cadastres and official material that had survived fires and other catastrophes. 6 Friends and critics, in which he had many, agreed he was an influential Russian linguist. Not only did he have a deep mastery of Russian historical dialects, but he had an appreciation for discernment and a wherewithal for skepticism.  Platonov acknowledged early influences of Kliuchevsky who followed S. M. Solov'ev (1820-1879), both part of the Moscow ‘juridical’ and 'statist school.'  This school developed along the lines of a broad understanding of the nature of historical processes. 7 Solov'ev’s ideas fostered a positive figure out of Ivan Vasilievich who became a bearer of the state ' principle.' 8  Ivan solved problems of the state. The Rus’ and Muscovite tradition of co-rulership with the boyar Duma placed second in importance.

  In his Moscow school years Platonov portrayed his tsars as strong men who served the state not private, clan, or class interest. Tsars were major creators of the historical process, although at times they were overwhelmed by events.9  In Ivan the Terrible, Platonov used both schools of thought and both ways of looking at Ivan.

Platonov suggested a reconstruction on the reign of Ivan. In fact, Platonov had Ivan reconstructing the state. This may have been due in part to two conditions.  First, as an astute historian, Platonov understood problems associated with the prime sources. There were not enough contemporary historical records for him to claim a view.  Second, Platonov remained cautious of his treatment. He wrote, "The present study will not presume to play the role of umpire between the various opinions of Ivan the Terrible" 10 His most important message to his readers was that he only fashioned an "image" of Ivan.

The book opens with Ivan’s Upbringing.  Ivan’s father and grandfather are laying the foundation for a justification of absolutism, spirit of national unity, and national consciousness.  Unfortunate circumstances begin after Ivan is born.  His father Vasily dies when Ivan is three years old.  The boyars do not appreciate Ivan's mother's foreign heritage. The main clans, the Belskys, (clan of Vasily), the Glinskys ( Clan of Vasily's second wife), and Shuiskys preeminent in the Duma play the major role.  Animosities arise, self interest for advancement and finally revolution breaks out. Bodies begin to fall in the Kremlin. Ivan’s mother suspiciously dies when he is seven years old but Ivan never becomes the target. Shuiskys rise to power and are accused in the death of Ivan’s mother.

Ivan at age thirteen seeks revenge and orders leading member Prince Andrei Mikhailovich Shuisky imprisoned. He is then executed.  Ivan understands his autocratic power. The Glinsky Clans takes power and the violence continues. Ivan matures and grows physically strong. He begins to torture animals, turns vicious, attempts to rob and kill people and spends time in idle amusement.

Metropolitan Macarius enters Ivan’s life. He installs virtue and turns Ivan away from negative influences. He schools Ivan in political and literary knowledge. He installs nationalistic ideas and a theory of ecumenical Orthodox state under an autocrat monarch who would become the "Tsar of Orthodoxy." In autumn of 1546 Ivan announces he wished to be married and be crowned tsar.

Ivan is crowned the first Tsar in 1547 and marries Anastasiya Romanovna beginning Ivan’s First Period. Ivan heads his first military expedition against Kazan.  Riots and fires break out in Moscow. The Glinsky clan is blamed and they fall from power. Ivan returns and decides to take control.  He forms the “chosen council.” The core of the group is a priest named Silvester, and a middle class servitor named Adashev, Macarius and later arriving Andrei Mikhailovich Kurbsky.

Ivan and the council take charge of government affairs. February 27, 1549 Ivan delivers to his boyars a special speech to stop stealing and injuring deti boiarskie and peasants. Ivan threatens them under pain of punishment. In 1551 Ivan and “chosen council” form a new Code of Law and charters. Ivan delivers a passionate speech asking for forgiveness of his sins. Ivan's administrative innovations seek to allow balance and justices to prevail. These reforms are both religious and secular.

In 1552, Ivan returns to Kasan and conquers it. The Tatar presence is relinquished and Kurbsky lavishes praise on all who took part. It is an astounding success for Ivan and people look to him more as a great leader. This ends Ivan’s first period.

The Period of Transition sees the birth of Dimitry, Ivan’s first son. He returns from Kazan to Moscow accompanied by only a small escort. The trip was not of his choosing.   Ivan says he felt "like a captive" and feared for his life. This brings upon a depression, and leads Ivan to a grave illness in March 1553.

Dynastic struggles begin with boyars refusing to follow Ivan's commands to swear allegiance to his infant son Dimitry. Among the people who do not swear is his own "chosen council." Many boyars and the council instead support Prince Vladimir Andreevich Staritsky. Ivan now understands his closest friends are against him. While this information shocked Ivan, he could do nothing about it.

 Ivan recovers. Tragedy strikes again and Dimitry drowns. The dynastic revelation breaks out into the open in 1554 boyar revolt. The Tsarita's relatives the Zakharins are accused by the boyars and the council of plotting a takeover. An issue of pure-blood lineage enters the boyar argument. Ivan doesn’t understand why they are attacking his wife’s heritage.  Ivan is unaware of this revolt. Yet, Ivan now knows he is "dependant" and "oppressed" by the "chosen council." The “chosen council” now allies with the boyars and they both take control of managing military campaigns. This ends the period of transition.

In Ivan’s Final Period Ivan wants to turn the military toward the west and open up trade opportunities with Europe. This is denied to him. The boyars and council plan an eastern campaign.  Ivan refuses to take part in it although he is begged over and over. Instead Ivan eats and drinks with his friends.

The annexation of Astrakhan provides the boyars and chosen council with a stunning success. Their power grows in the eyes of the people. The boyars and the “chosen council” decide to make Livonia a principality. Sigismund Augustus's support of Livonia and rumors of Ottoman support for Crimea’s plan to invade Russia brings Ivan back into the picture. Ivan leads the campaign into Livonia with stunning victories in 1558-59. Ivan’s power grows in the eyes of the people. Ivan, now a successful commander, is no longer in need of his former betrayers.

Personal tragedy strikes and Anastasiya dies suspiciously. Ivan links her death to Silvester's and Adashev's "poisonous hatred." Finally Ivan chooses to end the "chosen council" once and for all. Ivan becomes suspicious of everyone around and begins persecutions. He starts by executing Adashev's family. He tonsures Silverster. Kurbsky says Ivan "reverted back to his habits of his youth." Ivan then begins repressing the boyars.  In April 1564, Kurbsky in fear for his life, defects to Lithuania. Ivan free from all his previous relationships and now feeling persecuted decides his next move.

He secretly leaves Moscow in December of 1564 and takes with him selected people. They are told to bring everything they need to live with them.  One month later from Aleksandrovskaia Sloboda he sends a message back to Moscow threatening to abdicate. Only following fervent petitions by the people of Moscow, does he agree to return under certain conditions. The people agree he can punish the ones to whom he disfavors and who cause "treason." He can confiscate lands and divide a portion for himself and create a special court.

Ivan sets up a special court to liberate himself from traditional Muscovite rule. He moves selected boyars, deti boiarskie, and the best courtiers to his portion of the land called the Oprichnina. The best lands and cities are placed into Ivan's portion. He takes control of trade and very large sum of money from the treasury.  The rest of the lands he places under the name, zemshchina. These lands are toward the outlaying regions.   Then he orders certain boyars accompanied by servitors to run the zemshchina.

From June-28-July 2, 1566 a zemskie sobor11 was summoned by Ivan. In this assembly of the land, the gosti, boyars and clergy decide whether to accept Lithuania's peace offer. It is not Ivan who makes the decision. The assembly rejected the armistice. The war continues. 

Ivan creates his own army called the Oprichniki, they due his bidding.12 They abuse, persecute and kill with impunity anyone Ivan points out. His objective is to sort out his slaves in every province, which he accomplishes.13 Large patrimonies become divided into small allotments of service tenure estates for his Oprichniki. Political terror continues year after year.

In 1569, Crimea with Ottoman blessing looked to take revenge on Orthodoxy for conquering Islamic cities of Kazan and Astrakhan. The campaign is unsuccessful but they turn their attention toward Moscow. In 1570, Ivan is on campaign in Novgorod. Several weeks he spends torturing and killing people. Oprichniki sack Pskov. Then disaster strikes in 1571. A Muscovite traitor shows the Crimean Khan a secrete way around guarded southern borders. Crimea attacks Moscow and only the Kremlin is saved by the boyars.  The Oprichniki and Ivan flee and do not fight the Crimean forces. Ivan loses control of his army. They persecute the peasants. Ivan’s army becomes ineffective. Ivan abolishes the Oprichniki, but keeps his court. This begins part two of the Oprichnina, or post-Oprichnina.

Wars in the north continue.  King Stefan Bathory takes back all the lands Ivan had conquered in the west.  People left homeless in many central cities after the attacks flee to the outlying regions. Ivan accepts peace and authors treaties with Swedish King John and Bathory. 1575 Ivan temporarily renounces the throne and places Simeon Bekbulatovich on it. Ivan comes back. He helps with issues of settling and fortifying the southern lands, and planning a southern chain of fortifications along the wild field. Ivan does his princely duty and leaves his remaining son Fedor Ivanovich (r. 1593-1594) as heir to the throne.  Political terror and Tartar raids continue, leading to depopulation of the central districts of the state.  Drought, attacks and military failure in the west brings Muscovy to a domestic crisis of extraordinary magnitude.  Ivan accomplishes his goals of weakening the aristocracy, helping with settling the boarders and becoming an autocrat.14 This ends Ivan’s final period.

We must be careful when reviewing Platonov’s work claiming it had a view. We should treat it as nothing more than an ongoing investigation on Ivan Vasilievich. Russian historian Richard Hellie in the introduction of this 1974 translation by Joseph L. Wieczynski suggested Ivan the Terrible should be read as part of this established and continuing tradition attributing rational causality and deliberate intent to Ivan’s measures and their consequences. 15  Platonov gave varying rational explanations for the Oprichnina and in more than one book. He also gave an irrational explanation in Ivan the Terrible by suggesting things could have turned out differently. Platonov’s attribution of irrationality stemmed from two main causes. First, everyone was affected during the Oprichnina, and second, the political terror was “insane.” The measures Ivan took could have been implemented rationally as the two major reforms Ivan’s son had accomplished.  The person running the political terror was of course, Ivan. Here he left open his positive interpretation to doubt.

Platonov used many sources and did not draw a conclusion. Trying to understand the Oprichnina was difficult to impossible. Platonov used various historians and sources to paint a picture of the era, rather than give content to its meaning.16 When Platonov speaks about the positive way of looking at Ivan, some Russian historians link it to,  talking about rationalism. The word rationalism, rational, or any attribute to the concepts of a rational universe which led the concept during the Age of Enlightenment and then the Age of Reason, was never used by Platonov in Ivan the Terrible. Rationalism came about by Descartes, Galileo, and Kepler arguing with Aristotle’s construction of the Universe, in the argument  of the “motions ( forces) of bodies,” and the rational causalities of the Universe.  When Platonov speaks about the negative way at looking at Ivan, we can replace it with the term, irrationality. This is how many Russian historian constructed their arguments in the 20th century. Platonov had no reason to use the term, because it had no use in historical purpose. Rationality and Irrationality can coincide and operate together at any moment in time. For Platonov, the “positive” and “negative,” views of Ivan IV could also operate together in a historical moment.

In one main source Platonov used contained both positive and negative views of Ivan. This was the Ivan-Kurbsky correspondence. Hellie stated in the introduction that Platonov’s extracts from the “correspondence” do not serve to illustrate what he thought they did. 17 Platonov used positive quotes from Kurbsky and negative quotes from Kurbsky. This source was used primarily for looking at Ivan’s personal character. Platonov could have left out the negative quotes,  if he was only interested in fashioning a rational Ivan. He included them for a purpose. Were Ivan’s actions rational ( positive ) or irrational (Negative)?  Platonov asks this in text and with contemplation by using various and often conflicting sources.

 SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1Andrei Pavlov and Maureen Perrie did not accept Platonov’s view that Ivan’s action in placing  Bekbulatovich on the throne was merely “some kind of game or whim,” and “the meaning which is obscure and its political significance minimal.” 18 They may have looked at Platonov's Ocherki, which were [was?] only in Russian. In the English version of Ivan the Terrible Platonov gave a different view for this instance. Using another contemporary source, Platonov explained Ivan had placed  Bekbulatovich on the throne to enact a crack down on treason of “part of the people.”   This showed political purpose and implied a trusted relationship. When removed the Chinggisid descendant received Tver as his rulership. This showed that the ruler had management skills, and Ivan needed him even after the strange event.

A source to the humble state secretary Ivan Timofeev says in his Annals that Ivan divided the land in order to “start a schism.” Ivan “had come to hate the towns of his land.” 19 The result was a division of the lands that would begin a competition of powers between Ivan’s Oprichina part and the zemshchina portion of the land. Platonov could not explain the rational behind it, as the same source claimed “Ivan was playing with God’s people.” This showed there was no purpose to the Oprichnina and Ivan acting irrationally.   Ivan Timofeev (?-1631) a secretary in the Great Russian Chancery, author of a Journal (Vremennik) that is an important primary source for the history of Russia during the Time of Troubles, appears to be the source for Andrei Pavlov and Maureen Perrie’s claim that Platonov’s view of Ivan’s action in placing  Bekbulatovich on the throne was merely “some kind of game or whim,” and “the meaning which is obscure and its political significance minimal.” This was not Platonov’s view, but the humble seventeenth century secretary. One needs to wonder why when writing their book did they not understand Platonov’s assertion not to link him to any view during Ivan’s era. They used Platonov’s college dissertation, a work written twenty-years before, and not his more recent book on Ivan the Terrible?

By use of contradictory sources, and the cadastres, Platonov constructed many objectives pertaining the Oprichnina. Many historians contend Platonov’s  main objective to the Oprichnina, was Ivan confiscating the powerful aristocracy’s patrimonies ( hereditary appanages). Surely this was Solov'ev’s view, according to Hellie in the introduction.  Richard Hellie in the introduction to the English translation of Russian historian S. F. Platonov’s (1860-1933) book on Ivan IV, entitled Ivan the Terrible, described Russian historian S.M. Soloviev’s view of the Oprichnina period as Ivan IV struggling “to strengthen the new middle service class at the expense of the old boyar class.”[3] According to many Russian historians, this was Platonov’s main rationalization of the Oprichnina, but it also came from the sources.  This explanation had a single purpose – to weaken the aristocracy. Platonov gave one more rational explanation for the Oprichnina.  “Treason” had erupted with the incorporation of new lands and new cultural identities, all vying for power in various localities, mainly to the south/east. By moving much of the old court to the new outlying regions, and continuing in phase-two of the Oprichnina period, the solution for management was deemed better in the hands of the families who once had appanages. They knew how to rule. Platonov did not discuss this in great detail in Ivan the Terrible, but this was a major back drop and theme to the future era of Muscovy in his work Time of Troubles.[4]  

Curiously enough, here was one more reason why Platonov did not make up an opinion for the Oprichnina. If Ivan had a rational for governing the new lands, then why would Platonov say he had confiscated the appanages of the princely aristocracy to weaken the traditional rule? There appeared two (dual) purposes here for one reason. These purposes had revealed themselves in the sources. We cannot place a view of Platonov when he gives us two scenarios, for the movement of the old aristocracy away from the center of Muscovy.

We know by these contemporary sources Ivan failed to remain in retirement. He conducts business of the state, he takes his personal army out to defend the state, and conducts major business. This shows that Ivan was needed.

Apparently, according to Edward Keenan, he tried to abdicate. Platonov showed two places in his text where the sources reveal an intent to abdicate by Ivan. First, this led to the creation of the Oprichnina, and the second was post Oprichnina. However, in text, Platonov continues the chronological narrative, post-Oprichnina,  showing how Ivan returns to co-rulership. Astounding as it may seem, the terms ‘government, and Muscovite government” are used in place of Ivan did this, or Ivan did that. Here, again, Ivan is not in control as an autocrat. Together, he is help solving the issues after the Tatar attacks, and planning defensive measures, to illustrate some of the duties Ivan is taking part in with the government after he abolished the Oprichniki. We can understand that when the terms “autocrat,” and “ Absolutism” appear in the text, we are noticing the use of the source for Andrei Kurbsky, and this is not Platonov’s view, but his construction.

 

 

 His personal forces the Oprichniki were also used for the defense of the country. This meant Ivan and his army were needed and even opposed to his main purpose to stamp out “treason.” 

 

 

When Platonov is explaining the procedure Ivan used to move the aristocracy away from the center of Muscovy to either, according to the conflicting sources, to weaken the aristocracy or the help manage the outlying regions, he draws a relevance to Ivan’s grandfather’s tradition of moving nobles from conquered territories to the center of Muscovy, and exporting loyal servitors out from the center of Muscovy to the conquered territories. Platonov had already explained this fully in his Time of Troubles and drew parallels at the beginning of Ivan the Terrible to illustrate Ivan’s grandfather’s policy of vyvod, which apparently gave Ivan the idea. The only innovation Ivan placed into this old idea was to reverse it. New servators would be incorporated into the centrual region of Muscovy, while the old aristocracy would be moved away. In one source, Platonov shows that Ivan IV deported his domestic adversaries away from Moscow-- not toward it. In order for Ivan to accomplish this, according to some sources,  Ivan had to run a campaign of political terror on his own people, by constructing the division of the state, and ruling it by an iron hand. In the Time of Troubles, the old aristocracies were the only rulers capable to manage vast portions of lands, and new people. Their traditions brought them experience. By leaving new people to rule the new conquered territories, remember this is before institutions, they as inexperienced managers were susceptible to dominance by strongmen of the area, who knew how to manipulate their surroundings to gain advantage in their favor. The old aristocracy had been raised to understand the complexities of strongmen and could deal better with their independent spirit by enacting the same traditions to suppress independent individuals they governed as a rule for their power in the appanages. Troubling as this may seem, irrationality and rationality can operate together by understanding a duel motive force in one reality for a necessity to move part of the aristocracy away from their traditional abodes. This way, Ivan weakened the power of the aristocracy, and helped to secure the new territories. In order to do this, one needed to take control. Many Soviet historians contended that Ivan had to take control in order to accomplish this feat. We do not know if this was a reason during the time. What we do know is that it happened. Both cases are rational, or in a meaning of having a reason for moving them away from the center, this meant a positive measure, none-the-less.

What Platonov contends, but doesn’t hold as a view, was moving the aristocracy to the zemshchina, was accompanied by irrationality – that is the negative view of Ivan’s actions, in this case.   Platonov admitted the later expression could have come about peacefully under the reign of Fedor. Here Platonov questioned rationality of the Oprichnina. The political terror Ivan enacted on his people remained in Platonov’s mind "this insane and generally unnecessary terror."[5]  Platonov gave various sources to show why the aristocracy was moved away from the center of Muscovy to the outlying regions. This confused many Russian historians because it demonstrated a different reasons ( rationality) for confiscating vochiny, and moving many boyars to govern the zemschina.

When not tying down Platonov to a particular view of Ivan’s era we must call into question his treatment of the sources he presents. Platonov’s show a young Ivan recognizing his autocratic power at age thirteen and ordering a leading member, Prince Andrei Mikhailovich Shuisky, imprisoned. A similar account Platonov did not use appears in the The Chronicle of the Beginning of the Tsardom. This source, said to have been written in the 1550s at the court by someone close to the events, describes Ivan making an autocratic decisions at eight years old. Ivan decides to free Ivan Fedorovich Bel’skii and prince Andrei Mikhailovich Shuiskii from captivity. 21 It is hard to know if Ivan at such a young age makes these decisions or if these sources want to present the future tsar in control. Russian historian Edward Keenan pointed out in a public lecture it was convenient to promote the absolute, autocratic and tyrannical power of their leaders, even at a young age. In this way, he said, foreigners “propagated it conscientiously.” After the account, in Ivan the Terrible’s narrative, Platonov describes, the Glinsky clan took power (1544-46) and continued the violence. The narrative contained many different and conflicting sources.

Platonov had been careful of the sources he used. One chronicle account Platonov did not accept gave the Oprichnina victim list at 60,000. He pointed out instead to look at the source for the testimony of Ivan’s “synodal.” Under the victim count for Novgorod where one of the most violent episodes of the Oprichnina period happened, it gave only a listing of 1,505 victims. Regarding government reforms, he said the chronicles between 1550-1566 were scarce and illegible.  In another reference to sources, he said “Unfortunately, little reliable and specific information is preserved concerning the years 1559-1564, which formed the interval between the periods of the “chosen council.” 22 After 1566, Platonov attributes all the reforms of the first period in the text to either the ”chosen council" or to Ivan himself.

 

A.M. Kurbsky's SECTION

Ibrannaya Rada [duma]” or “chosen council” appears only in once source -- Kurbsky’s The History of the Grand Princes of Moscow. Also, this “council” is eluded too by Ivan in the Ivan-Kurbsky correspondence. These writings were said to be written after Kurbsky’s defection to Lithuania in 1564. This was an important historical source for Platonov. This source made up Ivan’s characterization, both positive and negative and can be seen as a direct influence of the school of St. Petersburg approach.  One historian’s study concluded that the “chosen council” was a construct of Kurbsky. Keenan’s study concluded it was a forgery possibly constructed in the seventeenth century.

 

Platonov relied on A.M. Kurbsky's alleged correspondence and his work History of the Grand Prince of Moscow for his main source on Ivan's character. Edward Keenan of Harvard University, in his The Kurbskii-Groznyi Apocrypha argued the letters between Ivan IV and his friend and lieutenant Andrei Kurbsky were seventeenth century forgeries by more than one author. The inside knowledge these letters exibited assured  R. G. Skrynnikov, a prominent student of Ivan IV,  to regard Keenan's thesis lacked scientific substantiation ( Platonaov xiv).

In The History, Kurbsky and Ivan argued over absolutism, a term not used in Russia then. Ibrannaya Rada is of Polish origin, not a Russian term. In the correspondence both argued over philosophy and demonstrated mastery of argument. This indicated scholastic training. Kurbsky spent most of his life on the battlefield and was not raised in the court. 23 As a witness in a court case in Lithuania, Kurbsky was asked to sign some documents to confirm his appearance. He made an ‘x’ in place of his name.

During the sixteenth century in Muscovy there was no need to be literate. The clergy of the monasteries took care of recording procedures. It has also been suggested that Kursbky learned to read and write while living in Lithuania. Both Ivan and Kurbsy’s writing styles are similar. Although no original copies exist, there were many variations of reproductions. Hellie had said in his response to Keenan’s The Kurbskii-Groznyi Apocrypha that Kurbsky’s writings were not necessary to construct the period of Ivan’s era. This source for Platonov was central in formulating the backdrop to Ivan’s decision to form the Oprichnina.

 SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1Ivan was a member of a hereditary caste of cavalrymen who in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries constructed a uniquely successful military-political, clan-based, “shame-and-honor” society in the midst of a majority population of communal agriculturalists. 24 Their tight-fitting circle of rule known to include the boyars and princes all met in a small chamber daily to manage the realm. They were further bound by family and marriage relationships and only rarely allowed in a small number of new families into their inner circles. It is under this pretext that Ivan emancipated himself from this tradition in Platonov’s construction.

The major theme in Ivan the Terrible was the weakening of this tight-fitting circle. But if we look past Ivan’s era we see the same clans co-ruling with the tsar who ran things when Ivan was young. Whatever change happened during Ivan’s reign was not permanent. This gives us another chance to look back and see if there was another reason for Ivan to do the strange things that he did.

 SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1 SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1In Ivan the Terrible, he tells the people he wished to abdicate right before he begins his Oprichnina. Curiously, Platonov does not pursue this reason or asks why.  I believe the outcome of garnering the people’s support for the Tsar’s wishes and return to Moscow were the objective in Platonov’s mind.

If we stand back and look at current politics of the day we can possibly formulate another picture. Primogeniture, already in place in Muscovite succession, created a problem. There was no procedure for a leader to step down. Ivan had done his grand princely duties and provided the throne with two sons who were past the infant mortality stage. Platonov kept pointing out Ivan’s frustrations with the people who surrounded him. He became depressed; felt continuously persecuted which made him sometimes refrain from taking part in government duties.  Strangely enough, when Ivan appointed much of the old aristocracy, this included the boyars, to run their portion of the land called the zemshchina, he gave them control of the state treasury. When Ivan left for Aleksandrovskaia he took with him 100,000 rubles, a very large sum in those days. One would ask why he would have done this if he had control of the treasury. In addition, the very word Oprichnina had meant in Ivan’s day a “widower’s portion.” Widower’s portions were rights given to women over their husband’s estates when they died in military service. This guaranteed the wife security and dignity.   The word only gathered its malefic identity after the events of 1564.

Edward Keenan argued Ivan sought to retire into private life and was taking conventional steps to accomplish this withdrawal. 25 The point of this argument was not Ivan’s retirement was the result of the Oprichnina period, but Ivan sought to retire from a tradition of rulership where there was no precedence.  Ivan’s reasons were the continual strife in the old court.

Platonov gave one more rational explanation for the Oprichnina.  “Treason” had erupted with the incorporation of new lands and new cultural identities vying for power in various localities. By moving much of the old court to the new outlying regions and continuing in phase two of the Oprichnina period, the solution for management was better in the hands of the families who once had appanages. They knew how to rule. Platonov did not discuss this in great detail in Ivan the Terrible, but this was a major back drop theme to the future era in his work Time of Troubles. 26

Curiously enough, here was one more reason why Platonov did not make up an opinion for the Oprichnina. If Ivan had a rational to governing the new lands, then why would Platonov say he had confiscated the appanages of the princely aristocracy to weaken the traditional rule? There appeared two (dual) purposes here for one reason. These purposes had revealed themselves in the sources. We know by sources Ivan failed to remain in retirement. His personal forces the Oprichniki were also used for the defense of the country. This meant Ivan and his army were needed and even opposed to his main purpose to stamp out “treason.” 

We can possible add one more piece of the puzzle and we know Platonov would have desired to have this assessment of the tsar. Around 1964 Ivan’s body was exhumed from the Cathedral of Archangel Michael in the Kremlin and sent for an autopsy report. The results were nothing less than startling. Ivan’s body had developed with an enlargement of the left side. The right clavicle was abnormally shorter than the left; the left shoulder blade was larger and more massive than the right. Ivan’s whole torso was noticeably asymmetrical. The whole spine was thought to be welded into a single position. Osteophytes on the vertebrae had fused; and around the joints of the long bones of the extremities ridged shaped and lumped – shaped growths were found. Particularly extreme development of such growth (osteophytes) was found in all areas where muscles were attached." Ivan was in great pain.

The amount of mercury found in his system was very great. Mercury was normally associated with pain medication in those days. 27 The autopsy did not conclude a definitive answer to explain the tsar’s strange actions, but it provided one more piece of the puzzle as to why Ivan may have wanted to retire into private life.

We can remain assured of Platonov’s place in the history of Ivan. He provided us with more than one way of looking at him, using both rational and irrational ways. He used both schools of thought to formulate only a picture of the tsar. 28 He tried to show absolutism with the use of Kurbsky’s writings, and formulate a picture of Ivan’s autocratic rise to power.  Yet he claimed not to understand the Oprichnina and Ivan’s life as a whole. There were not enough sources to do this he said.  In this way, he was only a formulator of history and left further interpretation open to future historians. This represented a true historian. He may have made mistakes by being a product of his generation.  He did not have all the access to information we have today. He remained honest, although, by not writing Ivan the Terrible as content.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Endnotes:

 

 

1 Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, ed., Joseph L. Wieczynski, vol. 28 (Gulf Breeze, Florida: Academic International Press, 1982), 114.

Platonov, S. F., Ivan the Terrible, trans. & ed., Joseph L. Wieczynski (Gulf Breeze, Florida: Academic International Press, 1974), x-xiii.

Ibid., Modern Encyclopedia.

Ibid., Ivan the Terrible, 12.

Ibid., 17.

Ibid., 1,12.

Ibid., ix.

Ibid., 10.

Ibid., Modern Encyclopedi,115. Platonov initiated a new "school" of Russian historiography -- men who rote detailed monographs based upon on exhaustive archival research and analysis, with little regard for current politics or grand architectonic historical schemes. Platonov viewed himself as a "technician," a discoverer of facts and a painter of historical pictures, not a philosopher of history or politician manque.

10  Ibid., Ivan the Terrible, 17.

11 zemskie sobor was not like the Kevian veche system, where representative – council of the town or land took place. It was a rubber stamp gathering and supported what the government said, ‘do you approve this and that….’ So no real council representation;  Foreigners see a nascent meeting. Here the representative, even merchants, come and have a say in accepting the peace offer or not. Ivan does not make the decision here; although, Platonov by now has placed him in full autocratic control. Platonov does not rectify the reason for this contradiction.

12 The Oprichniki was possibly formed in 1565.

13 This was part of the political terror which came to be known later as ‘the reign of terror’. This is only one of two places Platonov links ‘a very irrational Ivan’ to his mostly positive view. Later in the text, Platonov links this reign of terror to “insanity,” and we know that Ivan was in control at this point. This implied Ivan was insane; although Platonov refutes making any type of claim of this sort in direct reference to Ivan. This is a veiled or cryptic response to the author’s personal opinion pertaining only to Oprichnina proper. Ivan returns from “abnormality,” Platonov’s preferred term, after he abolishes the Oprchniki, and continues to govern in full control of his proper senses.

14 I have carefully reconstructed Platonov’s narrative to the best of my ability in a short amount of space.  In each “moment” my author goes back in time and forward to the present and explain reasons behind government policies, character’s origins,  and illustrated social geographies. My concern was to carefully provide in the reconstruction my author’s illustrations of who was in control of the government and at which time for our main character’s era. This was of course the main objective of my author’s narrative – to show the Tsar’s struggles to emancipate himself form traditional rule.

15  Ivan the Terrible, xviii.

16  Edward Keenan, see note for The Tsar’s Two Bodies, (1975, unpublished draft of public lecture, class material), p. 2. Platonov in text refers to himself as a painter of portraits. Keenan’s observation: “…portraits painted... that of Platonov-the most sparing of speculation-is still the best.”

17  Ivan the Terrible, xiv.

18  Pavlov, Andrei & Maureen Perrie, Ivan the Terrible: Profiles in Power (Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education Limited, 2003), 177.

19  Ivan the Terrible, 97.

20  Ibid., 113.

21  The Chronicle of the Beginning of the Tsardom, unpublished class room source material. p. 8.

22  Ivan the Terrible, 112.

23  We do not have sufficient sources for Ivan’s childhood. In Kursbky’s first letter to Ivan the Kurbsky writes extensively and intimately on Ivan’s childhood. Proof that Kurbsky had access to the young tsar is debatable. He was not made an official close to the court well into Ivan’s adult years.

24  Keenan, Edward, The Privy Domain of Ivan Vasil’evich, class reproduction of an unpublished source ( Dec, 3, 2006), 2.

25  Ibid., 25.

26  Platonov publishes his Times of Troubles: A Historical Study of the Internal Crisis and Social Struggle in Sixteenth- and  Seventeenth- Century Muscovy ( Lawrence, Kansas, 1970), which was followed by a collection of documents on the subject: Sotsial’nyi krizis smutnogo vremeni (The Social Crisis of the Time of Troubles). In his early work on the Time of Troubles Platonov followed the Kliuchevskii-M.A. D’iakonov-P.N. Miliukov interpretation of the enserfment of the peasantry; but in Boris Goudunov and then in a special article, “O vremeni i merakh prikrepleniia krest’ian k zemle v Moskovskoi Rusi” (On the Time and Methods of Binding the Peasants to the Land in Muscovite Russia), publishing in Arkhiv istorii truda v Rossii (Archive of History of Labor in Russia), III (1922), pp. 18-22, he advanced a new interpretation, using evidence of the “forbidden years.” See Encyclopedia Wieczynski, vol. 28, p. 115. In Ocherki political explanations for of the Times of Troubles were secondary. See Wieczynski, vol. 28, p. 114.  SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1In the Time of Troubles published in the same year as Ivan the Terrible, Platonov’s understanding for rationalization of Ivan’s autocratic rule was the tsar’s process of persecuting the princely aristocracy. However, there was a duel purpose which supposed a very rational explanation.  The Oprichnina was only a tool used to assimilate the new service class into the confiscated princely patrimonies – centrally located around Moscow. In this way Ivan solved local separatism by creating a new Muscovite state organism which mastered new social elements. In Platonov’s construction of the Muscovy state he saw from Ivan III to Ivan IV and onward an amassing of people and lands to control and all necessitating a need to overhaul the state structure. In post-Oprichnina, or phase II, after the Opirchniki were abolished, a new dilemma of administering the outlying lands came to a critical point. This dilemma was further complicated by the enormous changes happing from the mid-sixteenth century onward. The political terror, Tatar attacks, and peasant losing their former masters due to the restructuring of the centralized regions created a wave of migration to the outlying regions of Muscovy. On the outlying regions, the appointed and newly local servitors could not control local strongmen – some domestic and some foreign.  Platonov’s explanation of moving some of the old elite to govern the outlying lands of Muscovy was a rational explanation to solve this dilemma. The old princely aristocracies were traditional rulers who knew how to govern; therefore, this was where they were most needed.   In Ivan the Terribe, Platonov used both rationalism and irrationalism while giving Ivan the credit and representing both the scientific and the statist approach. He did this I contend because he had looked over more primary sources for Ivan’s era than concerned him for the 17th century smuta. Presented with more sources of this era, the conflicting views in the sources caused Platonov trouble in forming a full rationalization. For Oprichnina and a rational explanation formulated as a view See S. F. Platonov, Times of Troubles: A Historical Study of the Internal Crisis and Social Struggle in Sixteenth- and  Seventeenth- Century Muscovy, trans., John T. Alexander (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1970), pp. 6-33. George Bolsover relates the same duel purpose of the Oprichnina in Platonov’s Ivan the Terrible. …Oprichnina as a deliberate, relentlessly pursued, and successful attempt to destroy the position and power of the old aristocracy. By means of it, Ivan removed the former appanage princes and their adherents from their patrimonies in the central areas of the country, transferred them to frontier areas which needed extra manpower for defense, and divided their land on service tenure among more reliable men of humble origin. See George Henry Bolsover, Ivan the Terrible in Russian Historiography, in: “Transactions of the Royal Historical Society”, 5th Ser., 7, 1957, S. 84-85.

27  The Tsar’s Two Bodies, pp. 10-12.

28 I have left out in the narrative many irrational observations by Platonov attributed to the period of the Oprichnina. This was due to space. Part on my argument was to illustrate “some” historians have attributed Platonov to a continuing tradition of rationalizing Ivan Vasilievich. They possible have overlooked the complexities of this work and missed the irrationalism the author included.  Platonov’s own statements in his own introduction – as to his statements to reassess Ivan and not make him as positive as the trend had developed during the late eighteenth century onward. Here are a few examples from Ivan’s Final Period of Platonov’s reassessment on the rationality of Ivan the Terrible.  Ivan was hunting human beings, p.111: this showed irrationality; confiscations of charters and deeds of the lesser people – not the prime target, p. 110: this was irrational, in part led to a civil war during the period. The stability of the population earlier achieved by the government was now lost through the fault of that government, p. 111: In this case, the period in question is attributed to Ivan’s actions, and this showed irrationality by “all classes that were affected by the Oprichnina.” Here, again, Platonov shows “everyone” was affected by the Oprichnina and questions its purpose. “Not content with victimizing the boyars and common people, Ivan lightly and readily exterminated members of the clergy”, p. 112. In another case, Platonov says that “Ivan vented his wrath upon people of all walks of life and put them to death in great numbers,” p.112. “ The result of this insane and generally unnecessary terror was the complete derangement of the domestic life of Muscovy,” p. 113: Here the sum of all parts of the assessment of the Oprichnina, is a very strong word –“insane” – by placing this word into context, we know by association who was primarily responsible for the Oprichnina. This is one of the rare placements of my author’s emotional feelings in the text. This did not come from a source.  This statement could have been his heartfelt moment. 

 

 


 

[1] Richard Hellie, in Platonov, S. F., Ivan the Terrible, trans. & ed., Joseph L. Wieczynski (Gulf Breeze, Florida: Academic International Press, 1974), x.

[2] Platonov, S. F., Ivan the Terrible, trans. & ed., Joseph L. Wieczynski (Gulf Breeze, Florida: Academic International Press, 1974), pp. 126-7.

[3] Richard Hellie, in Platonov, S. F., Ivan the Terrible, trans. & ed., Joseph L. Wieczynski (Gulf Breeze, Florida: Academic International Press, 1974), xv.

[4] Platonov publishes his Times of Troubles: A Historical Study of the Internal Crisis and Social Struggle in Sixteenth- and  Seventeenth- Century Muscovy ( Lawrence, Kansas, 1970), which was followed by a collection of documents on the subject: Sotsial’nyi krizis smutnogo vremeni (The Social Crisis of the Time of Troubles). In his early work on the Time of Troubles Platonov followed the Kliuchevskii-M.A. D’iakonov-P.N. Miliukov interpretation of the enserfment of the peasantry; but in Boris Goudunov and then in a special article, “O vremeni i merakh prikrepleniia krest’ian k zemle v Moskovskoi Rusi” (On the Time and Methods of Binding the Peasants to the Land in Muscovite Russia), publishing in Arkhiv istorii truda v Rossii (Archive of History of Labor in Russia), III (1922), pp. 18-22, he advanced a new interpretation, using evidence of the “forbidden years.” See Encyclopedia Wieczynski, vol. 28, p. 115. In Ocherki political explanations for of the Times of Troubles were secondary. See Wieczynski, vol. 28, p. 114.  SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1Error! Main Document Only.In the Time of Troubles published in the same year as Ivan the Terrible, Platonov’s understanding for rationalization of Ivan’s autocratic rule was the tsar’s process of persecuting the princely aristocracy. However, there was a duel purpose which supposed a very rational explanation.  The Oprichnina was only a tool used to assimilate the new service class into the confiscated princely patrimonies – centrally located around Moscow. In this way Ivan solved local separatism by creating a new Muscovite state organism which mastered new social elements. In Platonov’s construction of the Muscovy state he saw from Ivan III to Ivan IV and onward an amassing of people and lands to control and all necessitating a need to overhaul the state structure. In post-Oprichnina, or phase II, after the Opirchniki were abolished, a new dilemma of administering the outlying lands came to a critical point. This dilemma was further complicated by the enormous changes happing from the mid-sixteenth century onward. The political terror, Tatar attacks, and peasant losing their former masters due to the restructuring of the centralized regions created a wave of migration to the outlying regions of Muscovy. On the outlying regions, the appointed and newly local servitors could not control local strongmen – some domestic and some foreign.  Platonov’s explanation of moving some of the old elite to govern the outlying lands of Muscovy was a rational explanation to solve this dilemma. The old princely aristocracies were traditional rulers who knew how to govern; therefore, this was where they were most needed.   In Ivan the Terribe, Platonov used both rationalism and irrationalism while giving Ivan the credit and representing both the scientific and the statist approach. He did this I contend because he had looked over more primary sources for Ivan’s era than concerned him for the 17th century smuta. Presented with more sources of this era, the conflicting views in the sources caused Platonov trouble in forming a full rationalization. For the Oprichnina, and a rational explanation, as formulated as a view contended by Russian historians, See S. F. Platonov, Times of Troubles: A Historical Study of the Internal Crisis and Social Struggle in Sixteenth- and  Seventeenth- Century Muscovy, trans., John T. Alexander (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1970), pp. 6-33. George Bolsover relates the same duel purpose of the Oprichnina in Platonov’s Ivan the Terrible. …Oprichnina as a deliberate, relentlessly pursued, and successful attempt to destroy the position and power of the old aristocracy. By means of it, Ivan removed the former appanage princes and their adherents from their patrimonies in the central areas of the country, transferred them to frontier areas which needed extra manpower for defense, and divided their land on service tenure among more reliable men of humble origin. See George Henry Bolsover, Ivan the Terrible in Russian Historiography, in: “Transactions of the Royal Historical Society”, 5th Ser., 7, 1957, S. 84-85.

 

[5] Ivan the Terrible, 113.

 

 

Back up to wordfile called What I'm working on Summer 2007

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Part I ( Two pages)

 

Sergei Fedorovich Platonov's importance today in part stems from his work Ivan the Terrible. Platonov's work on Ivan is  considered a standard among historians and may have been a rebuff of R. Yu. Wipper's first edition in 1922 on the Tsar. Platonov had said it was his apotheosis [more than apologetic (check this P 16)] . Born on June 16 (28) 1860, Platonov would become the preeminent Russian historian after Vasily O. Kliuchevsky (1841-1911)  past away. Platonov was a grandson of a serf and his father was a painter. Platonov's History of Russia were leading high schools and university textbooks in the Russian Empire for more than two decades. (Enc 114). Platonov published periodically. His favorite tsar was Boris Goudonov, his favorite era was the Time of Troubles, and his favorite region was Northern Russia.  He completed studies at St. Petersburg University at the age of twenty-two and went on to become a Private –dotsent at the University in 1888 and one year later achieved professorship.  Well qualified and respected, his career spanned two Russian periods. Pre-revolutionary he held positions 1890 -1903  of the Academic Committee of Ministry, 1899 Professor St. Petersburg University, 1895-1902 tutorship of some royal heirs, 1903-1916 Director of St. Petersburg Women’s Pedagogical Institute, leading to election as corresponding member of Russian Academic Sciences 1908, a full member 1920,  and in 1908 became involved with the prestigious Russian Academic Sciences. Post-Revolutionary, he held offices under the of Head of the Archaeographic (RH XII) Commission (1918-1929), Director of the prestigious Push-kin House of the Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Russian Literature (1925-29), and Director of the library of the Academy of Sciences (1925-28). With the introduction of the five year plan 1928-36 when the Soviet party believed they were in charge, Platonov was no longer needed. Platonov’s memoirs he wrote while attending St. Petersburg University mentions he was apolitical.  A lack of self expression to promote communism and socialism in place of scholarship integrity possibly determined the reason for Platonov's banishment from Soviet society.  January 1930  Platonov was arrested along with twenty other academics. He spent the last years of his life exiled in Samara ( now Kuibyshev) on the Volga where he died of malnutrition at age 73.

 

In 1923 Platonov published Ivan the Terrible. The methodology strikes similarities to his doctoral dissertation in 1901, the Ocherki. This was a move away from the St. Petersburg school of historiography and reflected the influence of the Moscow school of historiography and its ways of thinking. In Ivan the Terrible and like Ocherki, he divided up the era into major parts and subdivided themes into "moments." Platonov divided Ivan the Terrible into four major parts on Ivan’s era and subdivided themes into "moments" of Muscovy importance.  Before Platonov started his work on Ivan, he gave us his views on the background of Ivan’s historiography and his methodology.  

 

Part II Chapter I

Chapter I gives us Ivan the Terrible in Russian Historiography. From Prince Mikhail Shcherbatov's History of Russia to R. Yu Wipper's Ivan Grozny, Platonov acknowledges Ivan and his times had passed through a number of stages (1). The most important after the 1880s were two schools of thought concerning Ivan and two ways of evaluating him. (P12) The negative evaluation of Ivan began with M.M. Shcherbatov (1733-90) and eventually transformed into positive evaluations of Ivan by the time he wrote his work;  The negative evaluations of Ivan had ranged from a  confused mind or ignorance to pathological behavior or insanity. The positive evolutions ranged from a capable leader to finally to a leader that solved all the state's problems. Platonov's contemporaries Pokrovsky. S.V. Bakhrushin (1882-1950), I.I. Smirnov (1909-65), and R.YU. Wipper (1859-1954) all idolized Ivan IV.  Concerned over this trend, Platonov wrote " perhaps the scales have shifted somewhat in the opposite direction; scholars now face the task of striking an exact balance between the extremes of the subjective evaluations portrayed above.” (P17)  He wanted to bring a balanced characterization of Ivan back into historical literature.

 

Two schools of thought Platonov expressed were both associated in his work and life. While younger Platonov was influenced by the Moscow school. His use of the scientific method would slowly develop throughout his career.  Platonov followed in the footsteps of  mentor K.N. Bestuzhev-Riumin and others at The St. Petersburg school of Russian historiography. This school with Platonov's initiative slowly developed  along the lines of scientific investigation.  In respect the shining achievement had drawn to a close with " decisive victories of the scientific method " Platonov claimed. (1)  Platonov looked at the main historical sources of his period-- collection of chronicles, cadastres and official material that had survived fires and other catastrophes (P12). Friends and critics, in which he had many, agreed  he was a influential Russian linguist. Not only did he have a deep mastery of Russian historical dialects, but he had an appreciation for discernment and a wherewithal for skepticism.  Platonov acknowledged early influences of Kliuchevsky who followed S. M. Solov'ev (1820-1879), both part of the Moscow 'juridical' or 'statist school.'  This school developed  along the lines a broad understandings of the nature of historical processes. (P IX) S. M. Solov'ev (1820-1879) liberal ideas fostered a positive figure out of Ivan Vasilievich who became a bearer of the state ' principle.' (P10).  Ivan solved problems of the state. In his Moscow school years Platonov portrayed his tsars as strong men who served the state not private, clan, or class interest. Tsars were major creators of the historical process, although at times they were overwhelmed by events.( enc 115 ?) In Ivan the Terrible, Platonov used both schools of thought and both ways at looking at Ivan.

 

Platonov suggested a reconstruction on the reign of Ivan. In fact, Platonov has Ivan reconstructing the state. This may have been due in part to two conditions.  First, as an astute historian he was, Platonov understood problems associated with the prime sources.  Second, Platonov remained cautious of his treatment. He wrote, "The present study will not presume to play the role of umpire between the various opinions of Ivan the Terrible" (P17) His most important message to his readers contained a personal admittance. He only fashioned an "image" of Ivan.

 

 

 

 

((((( SECT FOOT TRANSFERS)))))

 

 

Emergency May 10, morning editing 103 final

 

FINAL EDIT

 

Sergei Fedorovich Platonov's importance today in part stems from his work Ivan the Terrible. Platonov's work on Ivan is considered a standard among historians and may have been a rebuff of R. Yu. Wipper's first edition in 1922 on the Tsar. Platonov had said it was his apotheosis. Born on June 16 (28) 1860, Platonov would become the preeminent Russian historian after Vasily O. Kliuchevsky (1841-1911)  passed. Platonov was a grandson of a serf and his father was a painter. Platonov's History of Russia was leading high schools and university textbooks in the Russian Empire for more than two decades. 1  Platonov published periodically. His favorite tsar was Boris Goudonov.  His favorite era was the Time of Troubles, and his favorite region was Northern Russia.  He completed studies at St. Petersburg University at the age of twenty-two and went on to become a Private –dotsent at the University in 1888 and one year later achieved professorship.  Well qualified and respected, his career spanned two Russian periods. In the pre-revolutionary period,  he held the following positions: the Academic Committee of Ministry (1890 -1903 ), Professor St. Petersburg University (1899), tutorship of some royal heirs (1895-1902), Director of St. Petersburg Women’s Pedagogical Institute (1903-1916), leading to election as corresponding member of Russian Academic Sciences in 1908, and a full member in 1920,  and  became involved with the prestigious Russian Academic Sciences (1908). Post-Revolutionary, he held offices under the of Head of the Archaeographic Commission (1918-1929), Director of the prestigious Push-kin House of the Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Russian Literature (1925-29), and Director of the library of the Academy of Sciences (1925-28).2 With the introduction of the five year plan (1928-36) when the Soviet party believed they were in charge, Platonov was no longer needed. Platonov’s memoirs in two short articles written in the 1920s mentioned he was apolitical.  A lack of self expression to promote communism and socialism in place of scholarship integrity possibly determined the reason for Platonov's banishment from Soviet society.  In January 1930 Platonov was arrested along with twenty other academics. He spent the last years of his life exiled in Samara (now Kuibyshev) on the Volga where he died of malnutrition at age 73.

In 1923, Platonov published Ivan the Terrible. The methodology strikes similarities to his doctoral dissertation in 1901, the Ocherki. This was a move away from the St. Petersburg school of historiography and reflected the influence of the Moscow school of historiography and its ways of thinking. Nevertheless, Platonov retained much of the St. Petersburg school methodology.3  In Ivan the Terrible as in Ocherki, he divided up the era into major parts and subdivided themes into "moments." Platonov divided Ivan the Terrible into four major parts on Ivan’s era and subdivided themes into "moments" of Muscovy importance. Before Platonov started his work on Ivan, he gave us his views on the background of Ivan’s historiography and his methodology. 

Chapter I gives us Ivan the Terrible in Russian Historiography. From Prince Mikhail Shcherbatov's History of Russia to R. Yu Wipper's Ivan Grozny, Platonov acknowledges that Ivan and his times had passed through a number of stages. The most important after the 1880s were two schools of thought concerning Ivan and two ways of evaluating him.4 The negative evaluation of Ivan beginning with M.M. Shcherbatov (1733-90), eventually transformed into positive evaluations of Ivan by the time he wrote his work.   The negative evaluations of Ivan ranged from a confused leader or ignorant man to him displacing pathological behavior or insanity. The positive evaluations ranged from, Ivan as a capable leader to a leader that solved all the state's problems. Platonov's contemporaries Pokrovsky. S.V. Bakhrushin (1882-1950), I.I. Smirnov (1909-65), and R.YU. Wipper (1859-1954), all idolized Ivan IV.  Concerned over this trend, Platonov wrote “perhaps the scales have shifted somewhat in the opposite direction; scholars now face the task of striking an exact balance between the extremes of the subjective evaluations portrayed above.” 5 He wanted to bring a balanced characterization of Ivan back into historical literature.

Two schools of thought expressed Platonov methodologies. His use of the scientific method would stress reconstructing the facts and attributing considerable significance to the acts of individuals.  Platonov followed in the footsteps of  mentor K.N. Bestuzhev-Riumin and others at The St. Petersburg school of Russian historiography. This school, with Platonov's initiative, slowly developed along the lines of scientific investigation.  In respect, the shining achievement had drawn to a close with " decisive victories of the scientific method " Platonov claimed. Platonov looked at the main historical sources of his period-- collection of chronicles, cadastres and official material that had survived fires and other catastrophes. 6 Friends and critics, in which he had many, agreed he was an influential Russian linguist. Not only did he have a deep mastery of Russian historical dialects, but he had an appreciation for discernment and a wherewithal for skepticism.  Platonov acknowledged early influences of Kliuchevsky who followed S. M. Solov'ev (1820-1879), both part of the Moscow ‘juridical’ and 'statist school.'  This school developed along the lines of a broad understanding of the nature of historical processes. 7 S. M. Solov'ev (1820-1879) ideas fostered a positive figure out of Ivan Vasilievich who became a bearer of the state ' principle.' 8  Ivan solved problems of the state. In his Moscow school years Platonov portrayed his tsars as strong men who served the state not private, clan, or class interest. Tsars were major creators of the historical process, although at times they were overwhelmed by events.9  In Ivan the Terrible, Platonov used both schools of thought and both ways of looking at Ivan.

Platonov suggested a reconstruction on the reign of Ivan. In fact, Platonov had Ivan reconstructing the state. This may have been due in part to two conditions.  First, as an astute historian, Platonov understood problems associated with the prime sources.  Second, Platonov remained cautious of his treatment. He wrote, "The present study will not presume to play the role of umpire between the various opinions of Ivan the Terrible" 10 His most important message to his readers was that he only fashioned an "image" of Ivan.

The book opens with Ivan’s Upbringing.  Ivan’s father and grandfather are laying the foundation for a justification of absolutism, spirit of national unity, and national consciousness.  Unfortunate circumstances begin after Ivan is born.  His father Vasily dies when Ivan is three years old.  The boyars do not appreciate Ivan's mother's foreign heritage. The main clans, the Belskys, (clan of Vasily), the Glinskys ( Clan of Vasily's second wife), and Shuiskys preeminent in the duma play the major role.  Animosities arise, self interest for advancement and finally revolution breaks out. Bodies begin to fall in the Kremlin. Ivan’s mother suspiciously dies when he is seven years old but Ivan never becomes the target. Shuiskys rise to power and are accused in the death of Ivan’s mother.

Ivan at age thirteen seeks revenge and orders leading member Prince Andrei Mikhailovich Shuisky imprisoned. He is then executed.  Ivan understands his autocratic power. The Glinsky Clans takes power and the violence continues. Ivan matures and grows physically strong. He begins to torture animals, turns vicious, attempts to rob and kill people and spends time in idle amusement.

Metropolitan Macarius enters Ivan’s life. He installs virtue and turns Ivan away from negative influences. He schools Ivan in political and literary knowledge. He installs nationalistic ideas and a theory of ecumenical Orthodox state under an autocrat monarch who would become the "Tsar of Orthodoxy." In autumn of 1546 Ivan announces he wished to be married and be crowned tsar.

Ivan is crowned the first Tsar in 1547 and marries Anastasiya Romanovna beginning Ivan’s First Period. Ivan heads his first military expedition against Kazan.  Riots and fires break out in Moscow. The Glinsky clan is blamed and they fall from power. Ivan returns and decides to take control.  He forms the “chosen council.” The core of the group is a priest named Silvester, and a middle class servitor named Adashev, Macarius and later arriving Andrei Mikhailovich Kurbsky.

Ivan and the council take charge of government affairs. February 27, 1549 Ivan delivers to his boyars a special speech to stop stealing and injuring deti boiarskie and peasants. Ivan threatens them under pain of punishment. In 1551 Ivan and “chosen council” form a new Code of Law and charters. Ivan delivers a passionate speech asking for forgiveness of his sins. Ivan's administrative innovations seek to allow balance and justices to prevail. These reforms are both religious and secular.

In 1552, Ivan returns to Kasan and conquers it. The Tatar presence is relinquished and Kurbsky lavishes praise on all who took part. It is an astounding success for Ivan and people look to him more as a great leader. This ends Ivan’s first period.

The Period of Transition sees the birth of Dimitry, Ivan’s first son. He returns from Kazan to Moscow accompanied by only a small escort. The trip was not of his choosing.   Ivan says he felt "like a captive" and feared for his life. This brings upon a depression, and leads Ivan to a grave illness in March 1553.

Dynastic struggles begin with boyars refusing to follow Ivan's commands to swear allegiance to his infant son Dimitry. Among the people who do not swear is his own "chosen council." Many boyars and the council instead support Prince Vladimir Andreevich Staritsky. Ivan now understands his closest friends are against him. While this information shocked Ivan, he could do nothing about it.

 Ivan recovers. Tragedy strikes again and Dimitry drowns. The dynastic revelation breaks out into the open in 1554 boyar revolt. The Tsarita's relatives the Zakharins are accused by the boyars and the council of plotting a takeover. An issue of pure-blood lineage enters the boyar argument. Ivan doesn’t understand why they are attacking his wife’s heritage.  Ivan is unaware of this revolt. Yet, Ivan now knows he is "dependant" and "oppressed" by the "chosen council." The “chosen council” now allies with the boyars and they both take control of managing military campaigns. This ends the period of transition.

In Ivan’s Final Period Ivan wants to turn the military toward the west and open up trade opportunities with Europe. This is denied to him. The boyars and council plan an eastern campaign.  Ivan refuses to take part in it although he is begged over and over. Instead Ivan eats and drinks with his friends.

The annexation of Astrakhan provides the boyars and chosen council with a stunning success. Their power grows in the eyes of the people. The boyars and the “chosen council” decide to make Livonia a principality. Sigismund Augustus's support of Livonia and rumors of Ottoman support for Crimea’s plan to invade Russia brings Ivan back into the picture. Ivan leads the campaign into Livonia with stunning victories in 1558-59. Ivan’s power grows in the eyes of the people. Ivan, now a successful commander, is no longer in need of his former betrayers.

Personal tragedy strikes and Anastasiya dies suspiciously. Ivan links her death to Silver's and Adashev's "poisonous hatred." Finally Ivan chooses to end the "chosen council" once and for all. Ivan becomes suspicious of everyone around and begins persecutions. He starts by executing Adashev's family. He tonsures Silverster. Kurbsky says Ivan "reverted back to his habits of his youth." Ivan then begins repressing the boyars.  In April 1564, Kurbsky in fear for his life, defects to Lithuania. Ivan free from all his previous relationships and now feeling persecuted decides his next move.

He secretly leaves Moscow in December of 1564 and takes with him selected people. They are told to bring everything they need to live with them.  One month later from Aleksandrovskaia Sloboda he sends a message back to Moscow threatening to abdicate. Only following fervent petitions by the people of Moscow, does he agree to return under certain conditions. The people agree he can punish the ones to whom he disfavors and who cause "treason." He can confiscate lands and divide a portion for himself and create a special court.

Ivan sets up a special court to liberate himself from traditional Muscovite rule. He moves selected boyars, deti boiarskie, and the best courtiers to his portion of the land called the Oprichnina. The best lands and cities are placed into Ivan's portion. He takes control of trade and very large sum of money from the treasury.  The rest of the lands he places under the name, zemshchina. These lands are toward the outlaying regions.   Then he orders certain boyars accompanied by servitors to run the zemshchina.

From June-28-July 2, 1566 a zemskie sobor11 was summoned by Ivan. In this assembly of the land, the gosti, boyars and clergy decide whether to accept Lithuania's peace offer. It is not Ivan who makes the decision. The assembly rejected the armistice. The war continues. 

Ivan creates his own army called the Oprichniki, they due his bidding.12 They abuse, persecute and kill with impunity anyone Ivan points out. His objective is to sort out his slaves in every province, which he accomplishes.13 Large patrimonies become divided into small allotments of service tenure estates for his Oprichniki. Political terror continues year after year.

In 1569, Crimea with Ottoman blessing looked to take revenge on Orthodoxy for conquering Islamic cities of Kazan and Astrakhan. The campaign is unsuccessful but they turn their attention toward Moscow. In 1570, Ivan is on campaign in Novgorod. Several weeks he spends torturing and killing people. Oprichniki sack Pskov. Then disaster strikes in 1571. A Muscovite traitor shows the Crimean Khan a secrete way around guarded southern borders. Crimea attacks Moscow and only the Kremlin is saved by the boyars.  The Oprichniki and Ivan flee and do not fight the Crimean forces. Ivan loses control of his army. They persecute the peasants. Ivan’s army becomes ineffective. Ivan abolishes the Oprichniki, but keeps his court. This begins part two of the Oprichnina, or post-Oprichnina.

Wars in the north continue.  King Stefan Bathory takes back all the lands Ivan had conquered in the west.  People left homeless in many central cities after the attacks flee to the outlying regions. Ivan accepts peace and authors treaties with Swedish King John and Bathory. 1575 Ivan temporarily renounces the throne and places Simeon Bekbulatovich on it. Ivan comes back. He helps with issues of settling and fortifying the southern lands, and planning a southern chain of fortifications along the wild field. Ivan does his princely duty and leaves his remaining son Fedor Ivanovich (r. 1593-1594) as heir to the throne.  Political terror and Tartar raids continue, leading to depopulation of the central districts of the state.  Drought, attacks and military failure in the west brings Muscovy to a domestic crisis of extraordinary magnitude.  Ivan accomplishes his goals of weakening the aristocracy, helping with settling the boarders and becoming an autocrat.14 This ends Ivan’s final period.

We must be careful when reviewing Platonov’s work claiming it had a view. We should treat it as nothing more than an ongoing investigation on Ivan Vasilievich. Russian historian Richard Hellie in the introduction of this 1974 translation by Joseph L. Wieczynski suggested Ivan the Terrible should be read as part of this established and continuing tradition attributing rational causality and deliberate intent to Ivan’s measures and their consequences. 15  Platonov gave varying rational explanations for the Oprichnina and in more than one book. He also gave an irrational explanation in Ivan the Terrible by suggesting things could have turned out differently. Platonov’s attribution of irrationality stemmed from two main causes. First, everyone was affected during the Oprichnina, and second, the political terror was “insane.” The measures Ivan took could have been implemented rationally as the two major reforms Ivan’s son had accomplished.  The person running the political terror was of course, Ivan. Here he left open his positive interpretation to doubt.

Platonov used many sources and did not draw a conclusion. Trying to understand the Oprichnina was difficult to impossible. Platonov used various historians and sources to paint a picture of the era, rather than give content to its meaning.16 When Platonov speaks about the positive way of looking at Ivan, he is talking about rationalism. When Platonov speaks about the negative way at looking at Ivan, he is talking about irrationality. In one main source Platonov used contained both positive and negative views of Ivan. This was the Ivan-Kurbsky correspondence. Hellie stated in the introduction that Platonov’s extracts from the “correspondence” do not serve to illustrate what he thought they did. 17 Platonov used positive quotes from Kursky and negative quotes from Kurbsky. This source was used primarily for looking at Ivan’s personal character. Platonov could have left out the negative quotes if only interested in fashioning a rational Ivan. He did include them for a purpose. Were Ivan’s actions rational or irrational?  Platonov asks this in text and with contemplation by using various and often conflicting sources.

 SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1Andrei Pavlov and Maureen Perrie did not accept Platonov’s view that Ivan’s action in placing  Bekbulatovich on the throne was merely “some kind of game or whim,” and “the meaning which is obscure and its political significance minimal.” 18 They may have looked at Platonov's Ocherki, which were [was?] only in Russian. In the English version of Ivan the Terrible Platonov gave a different view for this instance. Using another contemporary source, Platonov explained Ivan had placed  Bekbulatovich on the throne to enact a crack down on treason of “part of the people.”   This showed political purpose and implied a trusted relationship. When removed the Chinggisid descendant received Tver as his rulership. This showed that the ruler had management skills, and Ivan needed him even after the strange event.

A source to the humble state secretary Ivan Timofeev says in his Annals that Ivan divided the land in order to “start a schism.” Ivan “had come to hate the towns of his land.” 19 The result was a division of the lands that would begin a competition of powers between Ivan’s Oprichina part and the zemshchina part. Platonov could not explain the rational behind it, as the same source claimed “Ivan was playing with God’s people.” This showed there was no purpose to the Oprichnina and Ivan acting irrationally.  

Platonov constructed the main objective to the Oprichnina as confiscating the powerful aristocracy’s patrimonies ( hereditary appanages). This was Platonov’s main rationalization of the Oprichnina and it also came from the sources.  This explanation had a single purpose – to weaken the aristocracy. Platonov had already explained this fully in his Time of Troubles and drew parallels at the beginning of this text to illustrate Ivan’s grandfather’s policy of vyvod, which gave Ivan the idea. The only innovation Ivan placed into this idea was to reverse it. Ivan deported his domestic adversaries away from Moscow, not toward it. In order to do this Ivan had to run a campaign of political terror on his own people.  Platonov admitted the later explanation could have come about peacefully under the reign of Fedor. Here Platonov questioned rationality. The political terror Ivan enacted on his people remained in Platonov’s mind "this insane and generally unnecessary terror." 20

When not tying down Platonov to a particular view of Ivan’s era we must call into question his treatment of the sources he presents. Platonov’s show a young Ivan recognizing his autocratic power at age thirteen and ordering a leading member, Prince Andrei Mikhailovich Shuisky, imprisoned. A similar account Platonov did not use appears in the The Chronicle of the Beginning of the Tsardom. This source, said to have been written in the 1550s at the court by someone close to the events, describes Ivan making an autocratic decisions at eight years old. Ivan decides to free Ivan Fedorovich Bel’skii and prince Andrei Mikhailovich Shuiskii from captivity. 21 It is hard to know if Ivan at such a young age makes these decisions or if these sources want to present the future tsar in control. Russian historian Edward Keenan pointed out in a public lecture it was convenient to promote the absolute, autocratic and tyrannical power of their leaders, even at a young age. In this way, he said, foreigners “propagated it conscientiously.” After the account Platonov describes, the Glinsky clan took power (1544-46) and continued the violence.

Platonov had been careful of the sources he used. One chronicle account Platonov did not accept gave the Oprichnina victim list at 60,000. He pointed out instead to look at the source for the testimony of Ivan’s “synodal.” Under the victim count for Novgorod where one of the most violent episodes of the Oprichnina period happened, it gave only a listing of 1,505 victims. Regarding government reforms, he said the chronicles between 1550-1566 were scarce and illegible.  In another reference to sources, he said “Unfortunately, little reliable and specific information is preserved concerning the years 1559-1564, which formed the interval between the periods of the “chosen council.” 22 After 1566, Platonov attributes all the reforms of the first period in the text to either the ”chosen council" or to Ivan himself.

Ibrannaya Rada [duma]” or “chosen council” appears only in once source -- Kurbsky’s The History of the Grand Princes of Moscow. Also, this “council” is eluded too by Ivan in the Ivan-Kurbsky correspondence. These writings were said to be written after Kurbsky’s defection to Lithuania in 1564. This was an important historical source for Platonov. This source made up Ivan’s characterization, both positive and negative and can be seen as a direct influence of the school of St. Petersburg approach.  One historian’s study concluded that the “chosen council” was a construct of Kurbsky. Keenan’s study concluded it was a forgery possibly constructed in the seventeenth century.

In The History, Kurbsky and Ivan argued over absolutism, a term not used in Russia then. Ibrannaya Rada is of Polish origin, not a Russian term. In the correspondence both argued over philosophy and demonstrated mastery of argument. This indicated scholastic training. Kurbsky spent most of his life on the battlefield and was not raised in the court. 23 As a witness in a court case in Lithuania, Kurbsky was asked to sign some documents to confirm his appearance. He made an ‘x’ in place of his name.

During the sixteenth century in Muscovy there was no need to be literate. The clergy of the monasteries took care of recording procedures. It has also been suggested that Kursbky learned to read and write while living in Lithuania. Both Ivan and Kurbsy’s writing styles are similar. Although no original copies exist, there were many variations of reproductions. Hellie had said in his response to Keenan’s The Kurbskii-Groznyi Apocrypha that Kurbsky’s writings were not necessary to construct the period of Ivan’s era. This source for Platonov was central in formulating the backdrop to Ivan’s decision to form the Oprichnina.

 SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1Ivan was a member of a hereditary caste of cavalrymen who in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries constructed a uniquely successful military-political, clan-based, “shame-and-honor” society in the midst of a majority population of communal agriculturalists. 24 Their tight-fitting circle of rule known to include the boyars and princes all met in a small chamber daily to manage the realm. They were further bound by family and marriage relationships and only rarely allowed in a small number of new families into their inner circles. It is under this pretext that Ivan emancipated himself from this tradition in Platonov’s construction.

The major theme in Ivan the Terrible was the weakening of this tight-fitting circle. But if we look past Ivan’s era we see the same clans co-ruling with the tsar who ran things when Ivan was young. Whatever change happened during Ivan’s reign was not permanent. This gives us another chance to look back and see if there was another reason for Ivan to do the strange things that he did.

 SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1 SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1In Ivan the Terrible, he tells the people he wished to abdicate right before he begins his Oprichnina. Curiously, Platonov does not pursue this reason or asks why.  I believe the outcome of garnering the people’s support for the Tsar’s wishes and return to Moscow were the objective in Platonov’s mind.

If we stand back and look at current politics of the day we can possibly formulate another picture. Primogeniture, already in place in Muscovite succession, created a problem. There was no procedure for a leader to step down. Ivan had done his grand princely duties and provided the throne with two sons who were past the infant mortality stage. Platonov kept pointing out Ivan’s frustrations with the people who surrounded him. He became depressed; felt continuously persecuted which made him sometimes refrain from taking part in government duties.  Strangely enough, when Ivan appointed much of the old aristocracy, this included the boyars, to run their portion of the land called the zemshchina, he gave them control of the state treasury. When Ivan left for Aleksandrovskaia he took with him 100,000 rubles, a very large sum in those days. One would ask why he would have done this if he had control of the treasury. In addition, the very word Oprichnina had meant in Ivan’s day a “widower’s portion.” Widower’s portions were rights given to women over their husband’s estates when they died in military service. This guaranteed the wife security and dignity.   The word only gathered its malefic identity after the events of 1564.

Edward Keenan argued Ivan sought to retire into private life and was taking conventional steps to accomplish this withdrawal. 25 The point of this argument was not Ivan’s retirement was the result of the Oprichnina period, but Ivan sought to retire from a tradition of rulership where there was no precedence.  Ivan’s reasons were the continual strife in the old court.

Platonov gave one more rational explanation for the Oprichnina.  “Treason” had erupted with the incorporation of new lands and new cultural identities vying for power in various localities. By moving much of the old court to the new outlying regions and continuing in phase two of the Oprichnina period, the solution for management was better in the hands of the families who once had appanages. They knew how to rule. Platonov did not discuss this in great detail in Ivan the Terrible, but this was a major back drop theme to the future era in his work Time of Troubles. 26

Curiously enough, here was one more reason why Platonov did not make up an opinion for the Oprichnina. If Ivan had a rational to governing the new lands, then why would Platonov say he had confiscated the appanages of the princely aristocracy to weaken the traditional rule? There appeared two (dual) purposes here for one reason. These purposes had revealed themselves in the sources. We know by sources Ivan failed to remain in retirement. His personal forces the Oprichniki were also used for the defense of the country. This meant Ivan and his army were needed and even opposed to his main purpose to stamp out “treason.” 

We can possible add one more piece of the puzzle and we know Platonov would have desired to have this assessment of the tsar. Around 1964 Ivan’s body was exhumed from the Cathedral of Archangel Michael in the Kremlin and sent for an autopsy report. The results were nothing less than startling. Ivan’s body had developed with an enlargement of the left side. The right clavicle was abnormally shorter than the left; the left shoulder blade was larger and more massive than the right. Ivan’s whole torso was noticeably asymmetrical. The whole spine was thought to be welded into a single position. Osteophytes on the vertebrae had fused; and around the joints of the long bones of the extremities ridged shaped and lumped – shaped growths were found. Particularly extreme development of such growth (osteophytes) was found in all areas where muscles were attached." Ivan was in great pain.

The amount of mercury found in his system was very great. Mercury was normally associated with pain medication in those days. 27 The autopsy did not conclude a definitive answer to explain the tsar’s strange actions, but it provided one more piece of the puzzle as to why Ivan may have wanted to retire into private life.

We can remain assured of Platonov’s place in the history of Ivan. He provided us with more than one way of looking at him, using both rational and irrational ways. He used both schools of thought to formulate only a picture of the tsar. 28 He tried to show absolutism with the use of Kurbsky’s writings, and formulate a picture of Ivan’s autocratic rise to power.  Yet he claimed not to understand the Oprichnina and Ivan’s life as a whole. There were not enough sources to do this he said.  In this way, he was only a formulator of history and left further interpretation open to future historians. This represented a true historian. He may have made mistakes by being a product of his generation.  He did not have all the access to information we have today. He remained honest, although, by not writing Ivan the Terrible as content.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Endnotes:

 

 

1 Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, ed., Joseph L. Wieczynski, vol. 28 (Gulf Breeze, Florida: Academic International Press, 1982), 114.

Platonov, S. F., Ivan the Terrible, trans. & ed., Joseph L. Wieczynski (Gulf Breeze, Florida: Academic International Press, 1974), x-xiii.

Ibid., Modern Encyclopedia.

Ibid., Ivan the Terrible, 12.

Ibid., 17.

Ibid., 1,12.

Ibid., ix.

Ibid., 10.

Ibid., Modern Encyclopedi,115. Platonov initiated a new "school" of Russian historiography -- men who rote detailed monographs based upon on exhaustive archival research and analysis, with little regard for current politics or grand architectonic historical schemes. Platonov viewed himself as a "technician," a discoverer of facts and a painter of historical pictures, not a philosopher of history or politician manque.

10  Ibid., Ivan the Terrible, 17.

11 zemskie sobor was not like the Kevian veche system, where representative – council of the town or land took place. It was a rubber stamp gathering and supported what the government said, ‘do you approve this and that….’ So no real council representation;  Foreigners see a nascent meeting. Here the representative, even merchants, come and have a say in accepting the peace offer or not. Ivan does not make the decision here; although, Platonov by now has placed him in full autocratic control. Platonov does not rectify the reason for this contradiction.

12 The Oprichniki was possibly formed in 1565.

13 This was part of the political terror which came to be known later as ‘the reign of terror’. This is only one of two places Platonov links ‘a very irrational Ivan’ to his mostly positive view. Later in the text, Platonov links this reign of terror to “insanity,” and we know that Ivan was in control at this point. This implied Ivan was insane; although Platonov refutes making any type of claim of this sort in direct reference to Ivan. This is a veiled or cryptic response to the author’s personal opinion pertaining only to Oprichnina proper. Ivan returns from “abnormality,” Platonov’s preferred term, after he abolishes the Oprchniki, and continues to govern in full control of his proper senses.

14 I have carefully reconstructed Platonov’s narrative to the best of my ability in a short amount of space.  In each “moment” my author goes back in time and forward to the present and explain reasons behind government policies, character’s origins,  and illustrated social geographies. My concern was to carefully provide in the reconstruction my author’s illustrations of who was in control of the government and at which time for our main character’s era. This was of course the main objective of my author’s narrative – to show the Tsar’s struggles to emancipate himself form traditional rule.

15  Ivan the Terrible, xviii.

16  Edward Keenan, see note for The Tsar’s Two Bodies, (1975, unpublished draft of public lecture, class material), p. 2. Platonov in text refers to himself as a painter of portraits. Keenan’s observation: “…portraits painted... that of Platonov-the most sparing of speculation-is still the best.”

17  Ivan the Terrible, xiv.

18  Pavlov, Andrei & Maureen Perrie, Ivan the Terrible: Profiles in Power (Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education Limited, 2003), 177.

19  Ivan the Terrible, 97.

20  Ibid., 113.

21  The Chronicle of the Beginning of the Tsardom, unpublished class room source material. p. 8.

22  Ivan the Terrible, 112.

23  We do not have sufficient sources for Ivan’s childhood. In Kursbky’s first letter to Ivan the Kurbsky writes extensively and intimately on Ivan’s childhood. Proof that Kurbsky had access to the young tsar is debatable. He was not made an official close to the court well into Ivan’s adult years.

24  Keenan, Edward, The Privy Domain of Ivan Vasil’evich, class reproduction of an unpublished source ( Dec, 3, 2006), 2.

25  Ibid., 25.

26  Platonov publishes his Times of Troubles: A Historical Study of the Internal Crisis and Social Struggle in Sixteenth- and  Seventeenth- Century Muscovy ( Lawrence, Kansas, 1970), which was followed by a collection of documents on the subject: Sotsial’nyi krizis smutnogo vremeni (The Social Crisis of the Time of Troubles). In his early work on the Time of Troubles Platonov followed the Kliuchevskii-M.A. D’iakonov-P.N. Miliukov interpretation of the enserfment of the peasantry; but in Boris Goudunov and then in a special article, “O vremeni i merakh prikrepleniia krest’ian k zemle v Moskovskoi Rusi” (On the Time and Methods of Binding the Peasants to the Land in Muscovite Russia), publishing in Arkhiv istorii truda v Rossii (Archive of History of Labor in Russia), III (1922), pp. 18-22, he advanced a new interpretation, using evidence of the “forbidden years.” See Encyclopedia Wieczynski, vol. 28, p. 115. In Ocherki political explanations for of the Times of Troubles were secondary. See Wieczynski, vol. 28, p. 114.  SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1In the Time of Troubles published in the same year as Ivan the Terrible, Platonov’s understanding for rationalization of Ivan’s autocratic rule was the tsar’s process of persecuting the princely aristocracy. However, there was a duel purpose which supposed a very rational explanation.  The Oprichnina was only a tool used to assimilate the new service class into the confiscated princely patrimonies – centrally located around Moscow. In this way Ivan solved local separatism by creating a new Muscovite state organism which mastered new social elements. In Platonov’s construction of the Muscovy state he saw from Ivan III to Ivan IV and onward an amassing of people and lands to control and all necessitating a need to overhaul the state structure. In post-Oprichnina, or phase II, after the Opirchniki were abolished, a new dilemma of administering the outlying lands came to a critical point. This dilemma was further complicated by the enormous changes happing from the mid-sixteenth century onward. The political terror, Tatar attacks, and peasant losing their former masters due to the restructuring of the centralized regions created a wave of migration to the outlying regions of Muscovy. On the outlying regions, the appointed and newly local servitors could not control local strongmen – some domestic and some foreign.  Platonov’s explanation of moving some of the old elite to govern the outlying lands of Muscovy was a rational explanation to solve this dilemma. The old princely aristocracies were traditional rulers who knew how to govern; therefore, this was where they were most needed.   In Ivan the Terribe, Platonov used both rationalism and irrationalism while giving Ivan the credit and representing both the scientific and the statist approach. He did this I contend because he had looked over more primary sources for Ivan’s era than concerned him for the 17th century smuta. Presented with more sources of this era, the conflicting views in the sources caused Platonov trouble in forming a full rationalization. For Oprichnina and a rational explanation formulated as a view See S. F. Platonov, Times of Troubles: A Historical Study of the Internal Crisis and Social Struggle in Sixteenth- and  Seventeenth- Century Muscovy, trans., John T. Alexander (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1970), pp. 6-33. George Bolsover relates the same duel purpose of the Oprichnina in Platonov’s Ivan the Terrible. …Oprichnina as a deliberate, relentlessly pursued, and successful attempt to destroy the position and power of the old aristocracy. By means of it, Ivan removed the former appanage princes and their adherents from their patrimonies in the central areas of the country, transferred them to frontier areas which needed extra manpower for defense, and divided their land on service tenure among more reliable men of humble origin. See George Henry Bolsover, Ivan the Terrible in Russian Historiography, in: “Transactions of the Royal Historical Society”, 5th Ser., 7, 1957, S. 84-85.

27  The Tsar’s Two Bodies, pp. 10-12.

28 I have left out in the narrative many irrational observations by Platonov attributed to the period of the Oprichnina. This was due to space. Part on my argument was to illustrate “some” historians have attributed Platonov to a continuing tradition of rationalizing Ivan Vasilievich. They possible have overlooked the complexities of this work and missed the irrationalism the author included.  Platonov’s own statements in his own introduction – as to his statements to reassess Ivan and not make him as positive as the trend had developed during the late eighteenth century onward. Here are a few examples from Ivan’s Final Period of Platonov’s reassessment on the rationality of Ivan the Terrible.  Ivan was hunting human beings, p.111: this showed irrationality; confiscations of charters and deeds of the lesser people – not the prime target, p. 110: this was irrational, in part led to a civil war during the period. The stability of the population earlier achieved by the government was now lost through the fault of that government, p. 111: In this case, the period in question is attributed to Ivan’s actions, and this showed irrationality by “all classes that were affected by the Oprichnina.” Here, again, Platonov shows “everyone” was affected by the Oprichnina and questions its purpose. “Not content with victimizing the boyars and common people, Ivan lightly and readily exterminated members of the clergy”, p. 112. In another case, Platonov says that “Ivan vented his wrath upon people of all walks of life and put them to death in great numbers,” p.112. “ The result of this insane and generally unnecessary terror was the complete derangement of the domestic life of Muscovy,” p. 113: Here the sum of all parts of the assessment of the Oprichnina, is a very strong word –“insane” – by placing this word into context, we know by association who was primarily responsible for the Oprichnina. This is one of the rare placements of my author’s emotional feelings in the text. This did not come from a source.  This statement could have been his heartfelt moment. 

Historiography

  • Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History. General biography notes
  • Platonov, S. F., Ivan the Terrible, trans. & ed., Joseph L. Wieczynski
  • Richard Hellie’s suggestions on reading
  • The Origins of Autocracy: Ivan The Terrible In Russian History
  • George Henry Bolsover, Ivan the Terrible in Russian Historiography.

 

 

 

Biography:

Name: Sergei Fedorovich Platonov

Born: June 16 (28) 1860.

(Biography in progress)

Studies and early years:

 

Completed studies at St. Petersburg University in 1882, and after 1889 he was a professor at this institution. He directed the department of Russian history, succeeding his mentor, K.N. Bestuzhev-Riumin, an historian with a positivist outlook.

Acknowledged the influence of both Soloviev and Kliuchevsky in the formation of his own historical perceptions.” (x)

 

1888 Private –dotsent at St. Petersburg University.

1890 -1903 member of the Academic Committee of Ministry.

1899 Professor St. Petersburg University.

1895-1902 Tutored some royal heirs.

1903-1916 Director of St. Petersburg Women’s Pedagogical Institute, led to election as corresponding member of Russian Academic Sciences 1908, full member 1920

1908 Russian Academic Sciences involvement.

 

Publishing:

Total amount of life work: 98 Works

 

1921 he published a short biography, Boris Godunov (published 1973 in English translation by Academic International Press).

 

1923, Platonov’s survey on Ivan IV. A short but penetrating book called Ivan the Terrible.( comment, Bolsover)

 

 

1925, he published Moscow and the West (printed in English translation in 1972 by Academic International Press) wherein he discussed Russia’s return to Western civilization in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, after the “detour to the East” during the era of Mongol conquest.

 

 

Offices Under Soviet Government:

Head of the Archaeographic  (RH XII) Commission (1918-1929),

Director of the prestigious Push- kin House of the Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Russian Literature (1925-29).

Director of the library of the Academy of Sciences (1925-28).

 

Accomplishments:

Platonov initiated a new school of Russian Historiography. Men who wrote detailed monographs based on exhaustive archival research and analysis, with little regard for current politics or grand architechival historical schemes. (MEORASH 114 ).

 

Interests:

Favorite over all subject: North Russia, Much work on colonization, settlement and all aspects of Northern Russia ( See White Lake research).

Favorite Leader: Boris Goudonov.

Favorite Period: Times of Troubles.

 

Major Points:

Platonov tried to rationalize Ivan.

Platonov treated all Tsars as strong-men for the state, not interested in boyar and clan relationships/involvement.

 

Geopolitical circumstances:

life spans Russian periods: pre-revolution and post-revolution.

·        Platonov, S. F., Ivan the Terrible

 

(decent) Platonov was removed from his posts at the beginning of the Stalin Revolution. He was accused of illegally keeping archival materials of great state importance, including the Abdication Act of Nicholas H. Subsequently it was alleged that he had been part of a monarchist plot to overthrow Soviet power and place Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich on the Russian throne. (xiii)

 

Richard Hellie’s suggestions on reading:

Sergei Platonov’s Ivan the Terrible should be read as part of this established and continuing tradition attributing rational causality and deliberate intent to Ivan’s measures and their consequences. (xviii): One of the themes of Ivan the Terrible in Russian Historiography is the contrast in Russian historiography between looking at Ivan’s personal character and looking to outside forces, and Ivan’s rational for his decision making, the outside forces affecting possible rational decision making, particularly in regard to the last phases of his reign?

 

On Ivan’s Illness:

Platonov, the entire matter of the “chosen council” was troublesome. Because he could not define precisely the aspirations of the members of the “chosen council,” his analysis lacked complete scientific veracity.(xix)

 

On Kurbskii :

Platonov’s extracts from the “correspondence” do not serve to illustrate what he thought they did. (xiv)

 

Authors in Richard Hellie’s introduction:

 

K.D. Kavelin perceived Ivan’s actions as having clearly objective causes. The Oprichnina, a corps of 6000 men, entailed an effort by the tsar to create on the basis of meritorious service and without regard for social status by birth, a group of servitors loyal to him. This new group would replace the hereditary aristocracy as the major political force in the Muscovite state. The formation of the Oprichnina, according to Kavelin, completed a cycle in the Hegelian struggle between the aristocracy and the state.  (xv): S.M. Soloviev agreed somewhat

 

S.M. Soloviev:  the Oprichnina as a necessary stage in the process of the long struggle between the clan, personified by the aristocratic boyars, and the state, which, in the sixteenth century, finally triumphed.” (xv)

 

N.P. Pavlov-Silvansky (1869-1907), The first historian to find feudalism in Russia. Oprichnina involved large-scale confiscations of the remnants of princely hereditary appanages. (xvi): This of course created classes to him? He was from the new school of Marxists, and thus reflects its main ideas in social class struggles.

 

M.N. Pokrovsky (1863-1932), proclaimed an even more startling thesis. He maintained that the natural economy supporting feudalism yielded to merchant capitalism, the political expression of which was autocracy. (xvi): What is natural economy? Does it have an opposite expression? Pokrovsky class struggle argument: “the Oprichnina was nothing less than an alliance of the bourgeoisie and the middle service class landholders.” The alliance was the end product of a socio-political process begun long before Ivan, a process so mechanically inevitable and irresistible that the play of personalities and moralities as agents of history pale in comparison.” (xvi-ii): This is a teleological argument?

 

Vasily O. Kliuchevsky (1841-1911), the best known nineteenth-century Russian historian, shared the pathological view of Ivan. He believed that the ruler, acting in the context of tensions between the autocracy and the aristocracy, had torn apart a social fabric which was becoming rewoven. The boyars did not threaten Ivan. Yet, acting like an obsessively frightened man, he destroyed the individuals he suspected of opposing him. In Kliuchevsky’s reckoning, the Oprichnina was directed against men, not against the prevailing system, and consequently it was politically aimless. (xx):

 

N.A. Rozhkov (1868-1927), despite his shift of analytical focus away from what Marxists call the political superstructure toward the economic base, arrived nonetheless at views somewhat analogous to those of Paylov-Silvansky. In Rozhkov’s reckoning, there occurred during the second half of the sixteenth century the onset of the “gentry revolution,” a transfer of power from the appanage nobility of princes and boyars to the mass of gentry. The Oprichnina comprised one of the episodes of this revolution […](xvi)

 

Soviet historians :

Soviet historians have continued to explain Ivan the Terrible’s policies and actions as rationally motivated.

Pokrovsky. S.V. Bakhrushin (1882-1950),

I.I. Smirnov (1909-65)

R.I. Wipper (1859-1 954)

all idealized Ivan and found in most of his measures thoughtful steps necessary to the modernization of Russia. (xvii)

 

A.A. Zimin, continues this tradition in Reforms of Ivan Groznyi (1960) and The Oprichnina of Ivan Groznyi (1964). The latter work pictures the Oprichnina as needed to reinforce the state against the threats to it posed by the appanage princes, Novgorod (an independent republic until the 1470’s, brutally sacked by Moscow’s troops in 1570), and the Church (many of whose leaders were executed). (xvii)

 

·        The Origins of Autocracy: Ivan The Terrible In Russian History

 

Platonov’s Argument with Kliuchevskii

Issue: tsar’s real intentions and historical accuracy.

Topic: 1605-13 national crisis, “Myth of the state”

1605 May 19, Vasilii Shuiskii ascended to the Russian Throne.” First thing he did was to make a public declaration in the cathedral Church of the Holy Virgin: “ I kiss the cross before the whole world that I will not take no action against anyone without the approval of the assembly: and that if the father is guilty, I will take no action against the son: and if the son is guilty. No action against the father” One only needs to remember the Sinodik of Tsar Ivan, with its request to remember the soul of so-and-so, killed “along with his mother, and his wife, and his sons and his daughters,” for it to become entirely clear what the new tsar is promising the people (Yanov TOOA 275): This reference is to Ivan the Terrible? This meant Ivan had a considerable impact on the future, and in the memories of the leaders, as well as the people who may have kept these issues in discourse.

 

Nikita Kliuchevskii at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1956. Secret speech: “the Crowning  of Prince Vasilli marked an epoch in our political history. On the ascending throne, he limited his power and officially set forth the conditions of this limitation in a document distributed to all the regions, on which he kissed the cross on being crowned.” ( Platonov, in outlines of the History of the Rebellions in the Muscovite State of the Sixteenth Century and Seventeenth Centuries, inserted a subsection entitled “ The Cross Kissing Document is Not a Limitation.”) (Yanov TOOA 277):

In the preceding paragraph, Kliuchevskii elaborates that by announcing this it was a law like “a constitution existed in the country which specified the interrelationships of executive and legislative power, t o say nothing of judicial power.” (Yanov TOOA 277):

 

Platonov points out that “it was very difficult to see actual limitations of the tsar’s power […]” “ Here the tsar does not yield and of his rights… He only promises to reran form arbitrary personal caprice, and to act thorough the court of boyars, which existed equally in all periods of the Muscovite state and was always a law-enforcing and legislative institution , without , however, limiting the power of the tsar. In a word, in the memorandum of Tsar Vasilli one cannot find anything which would essentially limit his power and would he juridically obligatory for him.” (Yanov TOOA 277):

 

 

 

“Karamzim, who was an adherent of “enlightened autocracy” (tyranny within a tyrant, so to speak) […] Which permits him both to be condemned as a human being and justified as a political figure” (Yanov TOOA 233): This surely was the reasoning behind the enlightened monarch as it applied to Spain’s Charles III  and France’s King Louis XIV?

 

 

·        George Henry Bolsover, Ivan the Terrible in Russian Historiography, in: Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 5th Ser., 7, 1957, S. 71-89.

 

 

Klyuchevsky considered the key factors in Ivan’s reign to be a contradiction which had developed in the political structure of the Muscovite state and Ivan’s own character which determined how this contradiction was met. (82)

 

George Henry Bolsover: Historically, the ruler’s authority and the aristocracy had emerged simultaneously side by side and each recognized the other’s position. (82)

1.      “By the close of the nineteenth century historians were probing  more systematically into the changes which occurred in sixteenth- century Russia, and their researches helped to give depth to the  picture of Ivan’s reign by elucidating problems which had previously  been either neglected or obscure. This was particularly true of Platonov […] (84).

2.      “For Platonov, the second half of the sixteenth century was a time of crisis due to a basic political and social contradiction in the Muscovite state
and Muscovite society. “ “Klyuchevsky had already defined the
nature of the political contradiction
” (84)

3.      Platonov resembled Soloviev both in his analysis  of Ivan’s character and the early influences which helped to  shape it and in his treatment of the general course and interplay  of events during the first half of Ivan’s reign. He also agreed with  Soloviev that it was more important for Russia to try to secure  Livonia than attempt the impossible task of subjugating the
Crimean Tatars.” (84): Note, other authors hold that Crimea was a priority, which should be before any war with Livonia.

4.      But unlike Soloviev and unlike Klyuchevsky, he [Platonov] regarded the oprichnina as a deliberate, relentlessly pursued, and successful attempt to destroy the position and power of the old aristocracy. (84)

5.      “In Platonov s view, the boyars never went to the lengths of organizing political opposition against the Tsar.” (85): Interesting. This would contradict his notion that the tsar was to do away with the aristocracy class? Maybe see if there was a difference in terminology here?

6.      “But Ivan now developed such extreme nervous irritation, particularly against the princes […]” (85) So there is a difference between the boyars and the princes here? Ivan supposedly is not getting rid of the boyars but the princes?

7.      Breaking point against Princes: “when Kurbsky fled to Lithuania he decided to attack the whole basis of their social and political influence by seizing their patrimonies and removing them and their families from the areas which their ancestors had once ruled to areas where they had no roots in local society.” (85)

8.      Bolsover interpretation on Plantonov’s Thesis on the Oprichnina: Platonov believed that the oprichnina helped to solve the political contradiction in the Muscovite state by severing the power and influence of the aristocracy at the roots. But it intensified the social contradiction by bringing a mass transfer of land which completely ruined some and depressed the economic and social position of many more. This, together with the opriclinina terror and the burdens of the long Livonian war, caused a considerable movement of population from the old central areas to the newly-occupied territories in the east and south. (85): I believe some authors point out that the central lands became depopulated, and west and east took in the migrants; this was of course, connected to a economic argument and eventually serfdom? ( need more investigation or was this Platonov’s theme?)

9.      “Platonov’s interest in the social and economic as well as the political aspects of Ivan’s reign was to some extent shared by certain of his contemporaries such as Pavlov-Silvansky and carried even further by others such as Pokrovsky.” (86)

 

 

Pokrovsky, who was a Marxist, attached no importance at all to Ivan’s character or mental state. In his Russian History from the Earliest Times, published between 1907 and 1910, he claimed that the dominant factor in sixteenth-century Russia was a steady weakening in the economic self-sufficiency of the feudal patrimony and the appearance of its owner in the market both as a buyer and as a seller. (86-7).

 

Oprichnina Pokrovsky: For Pokrovsky, the establishment of the oprichniria amounted to a revolution, and like all revolutions, particularly in time of war, it was followed by a terror in which many of the nobility were executed as traitors.’ After the October revolution of 1917 Pokrovsky was allowed to become the dominant force in Russian historical studies partly because he was an old and active Bolshevik and Lenin praised his work and made him a Deputy People’s Commissar for Education. (87)

 

 

 

 

Citation  file

 

Endnotes:

 

Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History, ed., Joseph L. Wieczynski, vol. 28 (Gulf Breeze, Florida: Academic International Press, 1982).

 

Yanov, Alexander, The Origins of Autocracy: Ivan The Terrible In Russian History, trans., Stephan Dunn (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981).

 

Platonov, S. F., Ivan the Terrible, trans. & ed., Joseph L. Wieczynski (Gulf Breeze, Florida: Academic International Press, 1974).

 

Bolsover , G. H., Ivan the Terrible in Russian Historiography, in: TRHS, 5th Ser., 7, 1957, S. 71-89.

 

 

 

 

Bibliography file:

 

George Henry Bolsover, “Ivan the Terrible in Russian Historiography”, in: Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 5th Ser., 7, 1957, S. 71-89.

 

S. F. Platonov, “Ivan the Terrible”, trans. & ed., Joseph L. Wieczynski (Gulf Breeze, Florida: Academic International Press, 1974).

 

Alexander Yanov, “The Origins of Autocracy: Ivan The Terrible In Russian History,” trans., Stephan Dunn (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 



 
   
 

 
   

 

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