GRAHAM H.F. Ivan the Terrible: Reform and Reaction


Hugh F. Graham (1925–1994),

was Professor of History at California State College,

Bakersfield, USA

Abstract. Introduction. Hugh F. Graham (1925–1994) was a famous American historian, Professor at California State College (Bakersfield, USA), specialist in Greek and Latin sources for early Russian history, he also translated a number of R.G. Skrynnikov’s works into English. In this article, devoted to the epoch of Ivan IV the Terrible, H. Graham presented his view on the political processes that took place in the highest strata of the Moscow State that constituted the closest circle of Ivan IV the Terrible and that could influence the internal reforms and foreign policy in the state.

Materials. The study is based on the works of Russian and foreign historians, which allowed the author of the article to show controversial issues and prepare the article using the problem approach (their names and titles of the works are specified in references). In addition, H. Graham drew attention to the data from the following published sources: the works of I. Peresvetov, Protestant pastor in Lithuania Pavel Oderborn, and others.

Analysis. In this article, the author consistently outlined the events of the reign of Ivan IV: he paid attention to the reforms of the Elected Rada, the oprichnina, and the postoprichnina period. H. Graham noted that along with the active study of the oprichnina period by historians, the issue of functioning was missed, while Zemstvo acted in accordance with the former administrative and institutional norms, continued to function under the traditional aristocratic leadership of the princes I.F. Mstislavskii and I.D. Belskii, whom Ivan IV, in fact, called co-rulers, proclaiming: “We three hold all the power”. H. Graham did not agree with the view of the oprichnina as a struggle with the aristocratic circles. The historian saw the following paradox: almost all the victims were leading figures in the new world, and not advocates of the old order. They were responsible for developing management tools and served in key institutions, participating in the centralization process promotion. They helped the tsar to acquire more authoritarian power he so longed for.

Results. It is the contention of this paper that the reign of Ivan the Terrible was not atypical, but simply a continuation in its own way of the regular path of development the Muscovite monarchy had long been following. However, a man still able to provoke such wildly disparate assessments of his character and accomplishments will continue to fascinate psychologists, bellettrists, historians, and popularizers alike. They will keep returning to him and hope that someone someday will at last manage to capture the elusive essence of the era and of the man himself in such a way as to win general acceptance. 

The abstract is prepared by Candidate of Sciences (History), Associate Professor N.V. Rybalko.

Key words: Ivan IV the Terrible, Russian history, 16th century, the oprichnina, Hugh F. Graham.

Citation. Graham H.F. Ivan the Terrible: Reform and Reaction. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4, Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2019, vol. 24, no. 2, pp. 8-18. DOI:

Лицензия Creative Commons

Ivan the Terrible: Reform and Reaction by Graham H.F. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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