After examining the reign of Ivan III, in what ways did he begin to construct the Russian state and how much did Russia grow during his reign?
My text for this is Traditions & Encounters, by Bentley and Ziegler.
Ivan the Great (Ivan III) was the first person to call himself the Tsar of Russia. He was born in 1440 and died in 1505. Ivan took the throne as the Prince of Moscow in 1462. Soon after that, he began to expand the area under his control. He eventually tripled the size of his domain by conquering more parts of what is now Russia. Because of this, he is known as the “gatherer of the Russian lands.” Ivan did not expand Russian boundaries very far in comparison with later rulers. For instance, he did not take control of what is now Ukraine and he did not push his empire out past the Ural Mountains in the east. However, he was the ruler who established the dominance of Moscow over much of the rest of the Russian heartland.
In addition to expanding the size of Russia, Ivan also started to create the state of Russia. He did this largely by imitating certain aspects of the Byzantine Empire. Constantinople had recently fallen to the Ottomans and Ivan set himself up as the heir to the Byzantines. He took more power to himself, doing away with the influence of the old Boyar class and giving himself the title of Tsar in imitation of the Byzantine Emperors. In addition to taking political power, Ivan set himself up as the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, thus further consolidating his power. Ivan also started to make Moscow into a grand city worthy of being an imperial capital. In these ways, Ivan began to construct the Russian state both as a geographical entity and as a political and social system.