Ivan III

Ivan III or Ivan the Great, 1440–1505, grand duke of Moscow (1462–1505), creator of the consolidated Muscovite (Russian) state. He subjugated (1478) Great Novgorod, asserted his sway over Vyatka, Tver, Yaroslavl, Rostov-Suzdal, and other territories, and checked the eastward expansion of Lithuania, from which he gained some former Russian lands. In 1480 he freed Muscovy from allegiance to the Tatars of the Golden Horde. To prevent insurrection in annexed territories, Ivan transplanted their ruling classes to Old Muscovy and replaced them with loyal Muscovites. Prudence and wisdom were said to be his dominant traits. He established autocratic government and took as his second wife Sophia, niece of the last Byzantine emperor. The two-headed eagle of Byzantium was added to the arms of Muscovy, Sophia introduced customs of the Byzantine court, and the idea of Moscow as a “third Rome” (successor to the might of Rome and the Byzantine Empire) became popular in official circles. Laws were codified, foreign artisans were introduced, and Italian architects erected churches, palaces, and fortifications. Ivan was succeeded by his son, Vasily III.

See study by R. M. Crowskey (1987).

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