Sample history Paper on Impact of Oprichnina on Russian society

Impact of Oprichnina on Russian society

Essay outline

The behavior of Russian society in the modern world can be traced back to mid 1560s. This is the period when Tsar Ivan, the Russian leader implemented Oprichnina, a policy that allowed for public executions of criminals, secret police operations, mass repressions and confiscation of land and other riches from aristocrats. This paper aims at evaluating the impact of Oprichnina state policy on the Russian society.

There are various reasons that pushed Tsar Ivan to implement the Oprichnina.  The need to control the nation peacefully without war was one of the reasons because it proved very expensive to the nation. The other reason was the need to have support from the citizens so as to make his administration easy (Ostrowski 535). Ivan felt that the aristocrats were ready to betray him at all costs thus needed to have a team of police who would be loyal to him.

Oprichnina affected the social life of the Russian people as it instilled fear in them. The brutality of the secret police affected the social life of the people negatively; especially the boyars who were the minority in the police force (Blank 570).

The state policy strengthened the Russian monarchy due to the influence of the oprichniki, the secret police.  They would execute anyone who disobeyed Ivan’s orders and this led to a society that obeyed orders without questioning (Brandenberger 6). In return for their royalty, the Oprichniki were given farms and other material possessions.

The implementation of the Oprichnina policy changed the social and political state of the nation. The impact of the state policy shaped the Russian society and the political and social changes are still evident in the country presently.

The following are the sources that will be used in the essay

Blank, Stephen. “Russian democracy: From the future to the past.”Demokratizatsiya 6 (1998):      550-577.

Brandenberger, David. National bolshevism: Stalinist mass culture and the formation of modern    Russian national identity, 1931-1956. Vol. 93. Harvard University Press, 2002.

Konstantin, Sheiko. Lomonosov’s bastards: Anatolii Fomenko, pseudo-history and Russia’s           search for a post-communist identity. University of Wollongong, 2004.

Ostrowski, Donald. “The facade of legitimacy: Exchange of power and authority in early modern             Russia.” Comparative studies in society and history 44.03 (2002): 534-563.

 

Impact of Oprichnina on Russian society

Although the state policy had some positive impacts on the political state of the Russian society, most of the social impacts of the Oprichnina policy are negative. Ivan implemented the policy after he began suspecting that the boyar aristocrats were likely to betray him. The boyars threatened his political career as they were opposed to his absolutist drive and he was determined to end their political influence in the society.  To ensure that the influence of the boyars was minimal, he made sure that the secret police servicemen comprised of very few boyars. The oprichniki were directed to confiscate land and other property that belonged to the boyars who opposed his rule. The impact of weakening the influence of the boyars was creation of a strong monarchy that ensured political stability in the country. The good political state of the country attracted foreign and local investors in the country leading to economic growth and development of the region. However, the economy developed at the expense of the social welfare of the people who lived in fear of the oprichniki brutality. The essay discusses the reasons for the implementation of the state policy as well as the social and political impacts of the state policy on the Russian society. It concludes by a summary of the social and political impacts of Oprichnina on the Russian society.

Among the reasons that encouraged Ivan to implement the Oprichnina policy was the need to enhance political stability in the country. During the time, the country was at war with the Lithuanians, Swedes, and Poles over expansion of the territory.  One of his most trusted advisors defected to the Lithuanians and this led to defeat of Russia. Besides losing many military officers and massive destruction of property, the country did not secure any territory (Blank 576). Ivan attributed this defeat to betrayal and he saw the need to have loyal officers working besides him. This is how he recruited the oprichniki who were lured into working with him faithfully by material possessions. The oprichniki were so loyal that they would execute anyone or a community that was opposed to Ivan’s rules. Ivan had a desire to dictate the political, economic, and social status of the country without any opposition.  The implementation of the state policy was successful because Ivan gained adequate support from the oprichniki who successfully instilled fear in the society.

Oprichnina led to psychological suffering of the Russians as they lived in fear of being attacked by the oprichniki. The servicemen punished anyone they suspected was disloyal to the country’s rules. They did not only execute individuals but communities as well. For example, five years after the implementation of the Oprichnina policy, they killed thousands of people at Novgorod who were suspected of treason.  The massacre was led by Ivan and this instilled fear in the society as the people feared to have the same occur to them (Blank 552). There was increased suspicion among the Russians in the society as the oprichniki operated secretly such that one could not identify them at times. The mistrust in the society affected the social structures of the people and undermined social development of the society.  The oprichniki did not respect the fundamental rights of the Russian society and they were determined to brainwash the society into believing that Ivan was the best leader they could ever get.  The fear that the state policy had instilled in the society made it impossible for the people to fight for their rights (Konstantin 10). They suffered in silence and this undermined their social welfare and the development of human rights movements in the country. While the state policy enhanced the social and economic status of the oprichniki, it undermined the status of the boyars by allowing land and other material possessions to be confiscated. This bled hatred between the two groups thus undermining unity in the country.

The political impact of the Oprichnina was positive as it made it easier for Ivan to rule the country without opposition and betrayal as it had happened earlier with Prince Andrey.  The loyalty shown by the oprichniki enabled Ivan to rule without fear of objection from the society. Further, the mass murders that were executed by the oprichniki instilled fear in the society, making it possible for the leader to dictate their rules on the society (Ostrowski 550).  The fact that no one could question the political leaders made it easy for dictatorial rule to reign in the country.  Although the dictatorship helped in containing the society to some extent, it undermined political development of the country.  It was not possible to have an opposition party to regulate the power of the monarchy due to the fear that Ivan successfully instilled in the citizens. The people got used to respecting the monarchy and this made it easier for the government to implement various projects for the well being of the nation. Before Ivan came to power he requested to be given power to destroy the traitors in the country by all means. Therefore, although his rule was brutal, he was given the mandate to rule by the same people he treated unfairly.

It is evident that the Oprichnina policy influenced the Russian society positively but mostly the impacts were negative. The fear that the country would be attacked by enemies due to betrayal of some state members fueled the implementation of the state policy. Through the policy, political stability was guaranteed as there was no opposition to Ivan’s rules. The dictatorial law by Ivan enhanced political stability that attracted investors in the country leading to stimulation of the economy that had been adversely affected by war. The society learnt to respect the dictatorial rules by the monarchy but this did not have appositive impact on political development of the society. Opposition parties are important in enhancing the overall development of the country. The Oprichnina gave the oprichniki authority to publicly execute the people who were opposed to the government and this instilled fear in the society. The mistrust among the people undermined their social development as they suffered in silence.  Although Oprichnina policy helped in stimulating the economic climate of the country, it had some undesirable political and social impacts. The slow political development in the country can be attributed to the Oprichnina policy as it undermined the development of political units in the country. The warfare experienced in the country in the modern times can be attributed to the cruelty of Oprichnina policy. The impact of the policy on the society makes one wonder, would there be political stability in Russia if the Oprichnina was not implememnted?

 

 

Works cited

Blank, Stephen. “Russian democracy: From the future to the past.”Demokratizatsiya 6 (1998):      550-577.

Brandenberger, David. National bolshevism: Stalinist mass culture and the formation of modern    Russian national identity, 1931-1956. Vol. 93. Harvard University Press, 2002.

Konstantin, Sheiko. Lomonosov’s bastards: Anatolii Fomenko, pseudo-history and Russia’s           search for a post-communist identity. University of Wollongong, 2004.

Ostrowski, Donald. “The facade of legitimacy: Exchange of power and authority in early modern             Russia.” Comparative studies in society and history 44.03 (2002): 534-563.