First Tsar of Russia

By the time Ivan III died on October 27, 1505, he had created a unified country with Moscow at the centre. It earned him the moniker ‘Ivan the Great’.

October 31, 2017 11:29 am | Updated 11:29 am IST

Ivan III: The first Tsar of Russia

Ivan III: The first Tsar of Russia

Ivan III Vasilyevich, one of the longest reigning Russian rulers was also known as Ivan the Great and he was the grand prince of Russia. He was born in 1440 and belonged to a generation of Dukes. He was born to Vasily II and Maria of Borovsk.

His father was called “Vasily the Dark”, because of an injury he received during the civil war when his cousin, Dmitry Shemyaka, in his attempt to usurp his crown, blinded him. Despite this injury, Vasily won as Dmitry was forced to get him out of exile because his supporters were many. Vasily then appointed his son, Ivan III as the co-ruler. Ivan III was six years old at that time.

Early succession

When he was 12, Ivan III was married off to Maria Princess of Tver and as a part of the agreement Tver was annexed.

Ivan III learnt a lot from his father as they worked together for 10 years, participating in all dealings and crusades. As an experienced Prince who not only had a strong character, he also had the capability to deal with complex governmental questions. At 22 , he became the sole ruler of Russia. The initial five years of his reign were uneventful. He had a vision for Russia and worked to see it take shape.

An ambitious ruler, his first trip was to Novgorod, which he conquered. From 1470 to 1478, he waged many wars and the result was the annexation of the area from Northern Russia till the Ural Mountain range. In between the wars, Ivan III also usurped land from weaker rulers.

Ivan III overthrew the Mongol Tatars, ending their 200-year-old rule, and taking over the Russian State. He was also called the Grand Prince of Moscow and tripled the territory of his state bringing it under one banner called the Russian state. He also made Moscow the centre of the Russian world by expanding its borders. Moscow was then called the Third Rome (Constantinople being the second).

In 1497, Ivan III introduced a code of law known as Sudebnik. It was the first time the laws of Moscow were consolidated in one place. He was also the first ruler to use the word Tsar (the official title for Russian rulers) and the title “Ruler of all Russia”.

Ivan III died on October 27, 1505, and was succeeded by his son Vasiliy III and later by Vasily’s son who came to be known as Ivan the Terrible.

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