There are many “greats” in history and today I’ll be writing about one of them. His name was Ivan the Great of Russia. He is also known as Ivan III. Before we get to how he earned his “great” nickname, I’ll talk about his early years. When Ivan III was a child, Russia wasn’t yet its own country. Why? Well it’s because it was under the rule of outsiders called the Tatar Mongols. The Tatar Mongols were a ravaging group of warriors from Mongolia. This group of warriors were descendants of the “great and terrible” Genghis Khan, so they were feared.
The grandson of Genghis Khan whose name was Batu Khan, was the person who first claimed Russian for the Mongols. His army was named the Golden Horde. It was named this because their gold-colored tents that glistened in the sun along the Volga River. Now that I explained the situation at that time, I’ll be going back to Ivan III. Ivan was the prince of Muscovy, which is a region in Russia that includes Moscow. Ivan was not scared nor impressed by the Golden Horde. He desperately wanted to free Russia from their rule. This was expected because the Mongols had ruled for 240 years! Can you believe that? No one for 240 years dared to revolt against the Mongols.
Thankfully someone finally did something, and that was Ivan III. He was not named the Great for nothing, and by now, you might have already guessed why. Yup, he was the one who freed Russia. I’ll explain how in a bit. This is because before he did that, he had to get more power. He did this by marrying an important woman named Sophia. She was the niece of the last Byzantine emperor. Before I get into why she was important, I’ll briefly explain the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire which was separated from the Western Roman Empire and Western Roman Church. The Byzantine Empire created its own church, Eastern Orthodox Church. This church did the basically the same thing as the West. It blended the power of the church and state.
This where Sophia comes in. You see, Sophia was one of the last royal members that was still alive. Her uncle, who was the last Byzantine emperor, died in battle and because of this, Sophia inherited the power of her uncle, which included the power of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Now if you connected the dots, you’ll realize something. For those who didn’t connect the dots, the main man, Ivan III married Sophia and thus the leadership of the Eastern church shifted to him. With this marriage, he was able to free Russia from the Mongols. That is how Ivan III was named Ivan the Great. Well he did some things after this but I won’t get into that in this blog.