Today In History: Ivan the Great Is Born

Today In History |

On this day in 1440, Ivan III Vasilyevich, a Grand Prince of Moscow and "Grand Prince of all Rus'", was born.

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He earned the nickname Ivan the Great, as well as the "gatherer of the Russian lands" as a result of tripling the territory of his state, ending the dominance of the Mongols/Tatars over Russia by defeating the Golden Horde, renovating the Moscow Kremlin, and laying the foundations of the Russian state. He was one of the longest-reigning Russian rulers in history.


Ivan brought the independent duchies of different Rurikid princes under the direct control of Moscow, leaving the princes and their posterity without royal titles or land inheritance. Klavdy Lebedev's painting Martha The Mayoress, seen below, shows Ivan III's destruction of the Novgorod assembly. Ivan dispossessed Novgorod of more than four-fifths of its land, keeping half for himself and giving the other half to his allies.


In the next painting, by Aleksey Kivshenko, Ivan III is seen tearing up a letter written by the Grand Khan Ahmed that demanded Russia pay him tribute. It represents how Moscow rejected the Tatar yoke during Ivan III's reign. Ivan III can be seen today on the Millennium of Russia, seen at the top of the page, a bronze monument in the Novgorod Kremlin. It was erected in 1862 to celebrate the millennium of Rurik's arrival to Novgorod, the starting point of the history of Russian statehood.


An impressive building program in Moscow took place under Ivan, directed primarily by Italian artists and craftsmen. New buildings were erected in the Kremlin, and the Kremlin walls were strengthened and furnished with towers and gates. In 1475, Ivan III established the first cannon foundry of Russia in Moscow, which started the native cannon production. Ivan died on October 27, 1505.

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