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The Presidential Library’s materials spotlight Ivan IV’s coronation: "Ivan will be called a legitimate tsar"

16 January 2021

January 16, 1547 a solemn coronation of the first Russian tsar took place on January 16, 1547. It was Ivan IV the Terrible. 

The ceremony is detailed in the historical essay of the writer and historian Nikolai Ilyinsky The Coronation of Russian Sovereigns to the Tsardom (1883) and in the publication of the Vilensk Holy Spiritual Brotherhood The Coronation of Russian Sovereigns to the Tsardom (1896). Ivan the Terrible is also reflected in the works of the playwright and historian Nikolai Polevoy The Reign of Ivan the Terrible (1859), the writer Yevgeny Solovyov Ivan the Terrible: His Life and State Activities (1893), Academician Sergei Platonov Ivan the Terrible (1530-1584) (1923) and others. These publications, as well as documents of that era and a variety of research materials are available on the Presidential Library’s portal in the collection “The Grand Prince. Tsar” of the large-scale electronic collection State Authority.  

The a need for a solemn coronation is described in the above-mentioned essay by Nikolai Ilyinsky The Coronation of Russian Sovereigns to the Tsardom. According to the historian, the fact is that in connection with the strengthening of the authority of the Russian state “... the modest ceremony of the former order of enthronement of princes can no longer correspond to the brilliant position that the Russian Grand Prince has received from that time among the Orthodox sovereigns of Europe. Ivan III crowns his grandson (1408) with a crown and barmas... inherited, according to legend, by our princes from the Greek emperors. <...> From that time on, our Grand Prince, although he was called by his previous title, but by the order of his coronation, seemed to hint at the possibility of being called a tsar..."

This opportunity was embodied by Ivan IV. “Having remained after the death of his father (Grand Prince Vasily Ioannovich) as a three-year-old child, Grozny, of course, could not be crowned right there. His accession to the throne was accompanied by one church blessing... ”, - continues Ilyinsky.

“At the age of 17, on December 1546, Ivan IV announced to the metropolitan and boyars that he “wants to look for the ancestral orders, as his ancestors, tsars and grand princes, and their relative Vladimir Vsevolodovich Monomakh was crowned”. Exactly one month later, on January 1547, he had a solemn coronation”, - reports the publication The Coronation of Russian Sovereigns to the Tsardom.

The solemn coronation took place on January 16 in the Cathedral of the Assumption Church of Our Lady in the Moscow Kremlin.

“From that time”, - says the historical essay Tsar Ivan Vasilyevich the Terrible (1868) - Russian monarchs began not only with foreign powers, but also within the state, in all matters and papers, to be called tsars, retaining the title of Grand Prince, consecrated by antiquity".

The authority of the tsarist power in Russia was strengthened when “fourteen years later, thanks to his urgent requests, Ivan received the blessing to bear the royal title from the Patriarch of Constantinople. At the same time, the patriarch also sent a book of the royal wedding to us, to Russia, for leadership", - Nikolai Ilyinsky notes. According to him, the majestic ceremony of the wedding to the kingdom emphasized that "...there is no service on earth higher than the tsar's, there is no work harder than the tsar's and there is no more disturbing responsibility for the conscience - the responsibility of the tsar for his subjects".