Historical Imperfect Parents - Ivan the Terrible

…written by Up All Hours

  1. #history
  2. #parenting
  3. #imperfect parent
  4. #parent fail

Imperfect parents, they’re all out there! They put the television on when the kids are playing up, despite the beautiful weather, they go for the packet of cheese and onion rather than the celery sticks, they tell their children the ice cream truck only plays music when it’s run out of ice cream… I find that last one particularly harsh!

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But it’s going on, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s been going on for donkey’s years! Throughout history, there have been many, many worse parents than you out there! Ivan the Terrible being one!

Ivan the Terrible

Ivan was Tsar of Russia from 1547 – 1584 and the addition of “Terrible” can be well founded. Ivan powered his way through seven wives, and had four children. He wasn’t particularly good to any of them, but there is one whose relationship was particularly dodgy.

This all goes way beyond putting the TV on or lying about ice creams I can tell you! Ivan’s son, also called Ivan, was often to be seen at his father’s side. When Mr Terrible was consolidating his reign by pretty much killing everyone he could find, his son would accompany him to these scenes of quite gruesome massacre… I feel guilty letting my nephew watch Star Wars for god’s sake… those Ewoks are scary!

When Ivan put the entire city of Novogorod to the sword for standing up to the Tsar’s authority, he took the 15 year old Ivan Jr. to watch, simply for fun and because the son had nothing to do! Then, after the city had been purged, father and son would go and watch the soldiers doll out “justice” on the city elders; then, because I suppose Ivan Sr. felt a bit guilty, dragged his son off to church to pray for forgiveness… the mixed messages are just so conflicting!

Their relationship was good to start off with. Father and son looked after one another; on one occasion a peasant tried to stab the elder Ivan. Ivan Jr. leapt to his fathers defence and reputedly stabbed the attacking peasant with his own knife, whilst his father looked on admiringly. Feeling a little queasy now to be honest!

But sadly, things began to deteriorate. During the Livonian War (1558-1583), father and son started falling out due to Daddy’s failures in the field. The son demanded that he be given his own command in the army… one did not demand from Ivan the Terrible! Things got worse when Ivan Sr. sent two of his son’s wives off to a convent for being sterile… Jesus. No wonder things started getting a bit heated. I’m guessing things were a little quiet around the dinner table that evening.

Then, in a scene that is so EastEnders that it should have taken place at the Queen Vic, tragedy ensued. Ivan the elder saw his new, pregnant, daughter in law wearing in-appropriately light clothing (she was probably showing her ankles or something), and beat her for it. His son roared “You have sent two of my wives to a convent for being sterile, and now you beat my wife with my child within her!” The daughter in law ended up losing the child.

Father and son argued, heatedly. At the height of the argument, Ivan the Terrible struck his son around the head with his ceremonial sceptre. Ivan Jr. fell to ground bleeding profusely from the temple. Seeing his son’s wound, the Tsar fell to his knees and wailed: “May I be damned! I have killed my son!”

Major parenting fail!

He was bang on. His son died a few days later.

Phew. Talk about a tempestuous relationship! Ivan never really got over the guilt of killing his son, and rightly so! But I hope that this little look into Russian Royalty and their slightly mental relationships, makes you think twice about beating yourself up over excess screen time or fish fingers and chips again for dinner!

Up the Imperfect Parenting Revolution!

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