One object of the reforms was to limit the powers of the hereditary aristocracy of princes and boyars (who held their estates on a hereditary basis) and promote the interests of the service gentry, who held their landed estates solely as compensation for service to the government and who were thus dependent on the tsar.
From that moment onward, the Volga became a Russian river, and the trade route to the Caspian Sea was rendered safe.
All the reforms took place under the aegis of the so-called “Chosen Council,” an informal advisory body in which the leading figures were the tsar’s favourites Aleksey Adashev and the priest Silvestr.
The council’s influence waned and then disappeared in the early 1560s, however, after the death of Ivan’s first wife and of Makari, by which time Ivan’s views and his entourage had changed. Russia was at war for the greater part of Ivan’s reign.
Ivan engaged in prolonged and largely unsuccessful wars against Sweden and Poland, and, in seeking to impose military discipline and a centralized administration, he instituted a reign of terror against the hereditary nobility.
Vasily had been able to appoint a regency council composed of his most trusted advisers and headed by his wife Yelena, but the grievances created by his limitation of landholders’ immunities and his antiboyar policies soon found expression in intrigue and…