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12 Times Ivan the Terrible Did Something Really Regrettable

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Ivan IV Vasilyevich, also known as Ivan the Terrible, was the first tsar of Russia and reigned from 1547 to 1584. His name translates more technically to "Ivan the Fearsome" or "Ivan the Awesome," but considering his actions, "terrible" is pretty darn accurate. The list of crazy and horrific things that Ivan the Terrible did could span all of Russia, but here are a few of his most egregious mistakes. From inappropriate dating behavior to violent overreactions, these are Ivan's most unfortunate decisions.

  • When He Pretended to Abdicated the Throne

    In 1572, Ivan disbanded his private army after they failed to defend Moscow.  He then "abdicated" and placed a Tartar general, Simeon Bekboelatovitch, on the throne. Meanwhile, Ivan stayed at a country estate and regularly came to pay homage to the supposed tsar. He did this for about a year until he decided that it wasn't that fun anymore.

  • When He Basically Ran Away

    In 1564, Ivan claimed to be leaving Moscow in order to visit monasteries. In reality, he just ran away from home, taking valuables with him and threatening to never return. Of course, he returned a few months later, proving that there's no place like home. Ivan claimed to have left Moscow because he was suspicious that the aristocracy and clergy were plotting against him, and he only agreed to come back on the condition that he be granted total authority over them - a condition that was granted.

  • When He Engaged In Unsolicited Beard Play

    When Queen Elizabeth sent some of her trusted ambassadors to Russia, it was likely assumed that everyone was going to take the visit quite seriously. But Ivan just couldn't help himself, and started playing with Lord Kennilworth's long beard. This is especially regrettable when one considers that Ivan was a potential spouse for Elizabeth at one point, so he really should have been thinking about making a good impression.

  • When He Got Married 8 Different Times

    When He Got Married 8 Different Times
    Photo: W. Schwarz / via Wikimedia

    Ivan had Henry VIII beat by a long shot. He got married eight times, and only the first three were church-sanctioned. Out of those eight wives, five were murdered and three were imprisoned. His last wife turned out alright, but that is probably only because she outlived him. The deaths of his various wives cannot be conclusively blamed on Ivan, but it seems... likely that he had something to do with it.