- "Ivan the Terrible waged a forty-year war on his own country, Russia. Thousands were slaughtered. He devised cruel, sadistic punishments in his personal torture chamber. He watched prisoners flayed, boiled, and even fried. He destroyed villages, towns, and an entire city. He stabbed his son to death in a fit of rage...all in the name of God."
- —Introduction to a Discovery Channel documentary about Ivan the Terrible
Ivan IV Vasilyevich, infamously known as Ivan 'the Terrible', (August 25, 1530 - March 18, 1584) was the first Czar of Russia. He lived during the 16th Century and was one of the most horrific leaders who have ever lived. He is known for killing large amounts of people, including his own son, often in extremely brutal and sadistic ways. Despite his actions, he was initially a good ruler according to some, but went mad with grief and anger when his first wife, whom he deeply loved, died. Also, despite his sadism, he truly believed that he was doing what God wanted him to do.
Aside from his cruelty, Ivan was known for being an able and competent diplomat, and was a proud patron of the arts. However, even then he could be sadistic: he had the architect who built his magnificent palace blinded so that he could not build anything more beautiful. Ivan usually reserved his worst cruelties for the nobility, most of whom he despised for destroying his family when he was a child. His brutal military campaigns, particularly the siege of Khazan, ultimately unified Russia.
At some point during his reign, he founded the Oprichniki, a secret police force devoted to carrying out his will. These fiendish men, many of whom were criminals, instilled complete fear of Ivan in the hearts of his subjects. To symbolize their role as enforcers of Ivan's will, they rode black horses, dressed in black robes, and wore the heads of dogs on their saddles and carried brooms, claiming they would "sniff out opposition to Ivan and sweep it away." It was with their help that Ivan was able to carry out his brutal methods of torture and execution, though despite this, he became less trusting of them in his later years.
Ultimately, he was brought to his senses after accidentally killing his favorite son when the latter tried to stop him from hurting his wife. Overcome with remorse and guilt, Ivan became good. He began praying shamelessly for forgiveness for his misdeeds; he sent out lists of his victims to various churches, asking the priests to pray for their souls, and shut down the Oprichniki. He became so insane , that he even comply to "Queen Elizabeth I" for political asylum. (Side note , he proposed to her in the past and was rejected with no hesitation)
Ivan died from a stroke while playing chess with Bogdan Belsky on 28 March [O.S. 18 March] 1584. Upon Ivan's death, the Russian throne was left to his unfit and childless middle son Feodor. Feodor died childless in 1598, ushering in the Time of Troubles.
Ivan the Terrible on Real Life Heroes Wiki
Ivan the Terrible (Night at the Museum) on Villains wiki