The reign of Ivan IV ‘the Terrible’ (1547–84) was marked by great vicissitudes, often exacerbated by his own violent temperament. He brought about great expansion of the empire, with the subjugation of the khanates of Astrakhan, Kazan and Sibir. This took his rule south to the Caucasus and deep into Siberia. However, on his western borders he became embroiled in a long war against an alliance of Sweden, the Polish/Lithuanian Commonwealth and Livonian Knights, ultimately losing Polotsk and Livonia in the truces of 1582–83. His domestic rule was scarred by increasingly savage autocracy, subduing the boyar nobility through his Oprichniki militia/police, their reign of terror culminating in the massacre of Novgorod. Ivan killed his own heir in a fit of rage, which led, ultimately, to the ‘Time of Troubles’, marked by civil war, famines and further loss of territory until the emergence of the Romanovs.
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