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Russia Engages the World, 1453-1825
1453 Through the Reign of Ivan the Terrible (1533-1584) The Time of Troubles to the First Romanovs (1598-1682) Peter the Great and His Legacy (1682-1762) The Age of Catherine the Great (1762-1801) The Reign of Emperor Alexander I (1801-1825)


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From the Fall of Constantinople to the Reign of Ivan the Terrible: A Summary of Russian History
Russia Symbol Introduction
Russia Symbol Prior to 1453
Russia Symbol The Period of Mongol Invasion and Rule, 1237–1480 
Russia Symbol Muscovy Emerges as a Power
Russia Symbol 1453–1584: Moscow Becomes the "Third Rome"
Russia Symbol Ivan IV Descends into Madness
From the Fall of Constantinople to the Reign of Ivan the Terrible: A Summary of World History
World Symbol
World Symbol
Special Features

Russia's Globalization:
A Key

Events marked Russia Symbol are specific to Muscovy/Russia's internal development.
Those marked World Symbol are important world historical or cultural events.
Engagement Symbol indicates specific points of sociocultural or military engagement between Muscovy/Russia and foreign powers or individuals.


Russia Symbol An Account by the Pope’s Wily Diplomat

An Account by the Pope’s Wily Diplomat
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Antonio Possevino (1533 or 1534–1611)
Moscovia [Muscovy]
Antwerp: Christophe Plantin, 1587
NYPL, Rare Books Division

In 1581, Pope Gregory VIII sent Possevino, of the Society of Jesus, to mediate a dispute between the Muscovite Tsar and the Polish King. However, it was also the Pope's desire to bring about a reconciliation between Orthodoxy and the Roman Catholic Church, ending the schism that began in 1054. While Possevino's mission to the court of Ivan IV, “the Terrible” (r. 1533–84), failed to achieve reunification under papal authority, he did produce a wide-ranging travel account that is considered a perceptive and accurate description of Ivan's Muscovy – whose population he portrayed as kept in check by fear and the very unpredictability of Ivan's actions.

The map accompanying Possevino's account reproduces that of an earlier English traveler, and depicts the relatively more urbanized western parts of the Muscovite state, represented by buildings and city symbols, and the unsettled east, its spaces filled in with depictions of nomadic peoples, their tents, and camels.

The capital of the Tatar khanate of Sibir (on the map, “Siber”), along the Irtysh River, is seen at the upper right. Its capture by the Cossack Ermak (d. 1585) in the late 16th century paved the way for further Russian expansion eastward. Ivan himself appears at the upper left corner, in a tent, perhaps portrayed as the “new” Great Khan.