Ivan IV the Terrible
The Tsar and Great Prince of the entire Russia Ivan IV the Terrible was a most educated man of his time: his contemporaries spoke of him as “a man of refined discretion, ample in book learning and abundant in high words”.
However, his boyhood and youth were spent amidst incessant conspiracies, palace revolutions and the struggle for power between the eldest boyar families.
This could not but influence the royal disposition, and this was probably the reason for the inexplicable cruelty typical of his reign. His “List of those fallen into disgrace” – the names of the noblemen and other citizens whom he had executed and remembered in his prayers every day – made up, by the end of his life, thousands of entries.