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Oprichnina

From Academic Kids

The Oprichnina (Russian: Опричнина) formed a section of Russia ruled directly by the Tsar under Ivan the Terrible. The term derives from the obsolete Russian word "опричь" (oprich), meaning except of.

It was formed in 1565 to give Ivan a section of territory in which he could be free from noble interference and rule as a completely unlimited autocrat. The Oprichnina contained much of Russia's best land, including parts of Moscow and many of the large central cities. The rest of the country was referred to as the zemshchina; these areas were ruled by powerful boyars.

The Oprichnina was administered by the Oprichniks, who used extreme violence against any opposition to Ivan's rule. This included both nobles and peasants. During the era of the Oprichnina Oprichniks killed thousands and devastated the area.

The Oprichnina was a total failure and Ivan was forced to disband it in 1573, going so far as to claim that it had never existed at all, and executing several of its leaders. What had once been Russia's best and most fertile areas had been devastated and had fallen well below the rest of the country. Those that had not been killed by the Oprichniks often fled into other areas of Russia. Instead of increasing (as Ivan had hoped), tax revenues fell, and Russia was badly prepared when the Crimean Tatars attacked in 1571.

Sergei Eisenstein depicted the Oprichniks as healthy, loyal, clean-looking persons in the movie Ivan The Terrible, Part I and then proceeded to show them in a less flattering light in Ivan The Terrible, Part II.

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