Russian Prince, Ivan the III, also known as Ivan the Great, was born in Moscow on January 22, 1440. His childhood was notably dark, as he grew up in the middle of one of the greatest civil wars in Muscovy history. His father, Vasily II spent a significant part of his life protecting his throne from his uncle and cousins while also leading Moscow and its people. There are few sources available about Ivan’s life before his rise to power and the ones which are available focus on the family discord he witnessed throughout his childhood.
Even as a young boy, Ivan was aware of the danger of being Vasily II’s son, making him no stranger to the consequences he might face one day. One night, Ivan found himself being smuggled to safety in a monastery after his father was captured and blinded by his cousin. This attack on the throne was a key turning point in Ivan’s childhood. There was no way for Ivan to know if his father would survive this attack or if his father would be able to continue his rule, but there was no time to think at that moment. He had to get to safety. Even after reaching the monastery, Ivan was handed back to his uncles as a hostage until his father regained power over the throne. Little did Ivan know that the blinding of his father would put him in the position of becoming the ruler of Moscow at just twelve years old.
Unlike many young rulers, Ivan had the advantage of having his father’s guidance while slowly transitioning him into taking over his new role. While the blinding had an impact on Vasily’s ability to rule, he turned this misfortune into an opportunity to show his son how to be a successful leader, not only in battle, but also in the sociopolitical landscape that was developing in and around Moscow. Vasily II knew the day his son would have to take over the throne would come sooner rather than later, so he prepared his son to follow in his footsteps. By his teenage years, Ivan was leading military expeditions to eliminate internal and external threats to his father’s throne, he began to plan his strategy to expand his lands, and planned the development of new domestic and foreign policy.
Vasily II passed in 1462 leaving behind a prepared Ivan to take over the throne. Family discord would still be a part of his rule, but it was nothing Ivan could not handle– after all, he was familiar with the intricacies of leading the Muscovy while guarding his throne from direct attacks. Ivan did not waste any time transitioning to the throne. He crowned himself as the new Tsar, which was the first time the Rus would use this term to refer to their leader, developed a new coat of arms with his first wife, and began to consolidate the thrones of different Russian lands. What is now known as the “great gatherings of the Russian lands” encompassed the annexation of the East Slavic lands, the Belarusian and Ukrainian regions, and both Russian territories.
Ivan was an incredibly special boy even before ruling by his father’s side. His willingness to learn from his father how to rule over such vast lands at a young age was a marker of what his future would look like. Ivan witnessed his father’s courage and determination to continue to rule over his land even after a life altering injury. Vasily’s strength inspired Ivan to continue his father’s legacy of fearless leadership. His father was still the ruler of the throne but Ivan knew his life was about to change.
He was destined to be great.
This was his kingdom now.
How To Pre-Order
The Rise of Moscow campaign charts the growth of a once-remote outpost into the grand center of power we know today. Ivan III “the Great” reigned during a critical time in Moscow’s ascendency – at a moment when rivals would be brought to heel and the Mongol yolk would be defied. Players will experience his personal mission to bring all Rus principalities under Moscow’s rule, and his show of strength in the face of retribution from the Mongol khan.
Want to experience Ivan’s journey? The game is available for pre-order now on Windows Store and Steam and will be playable starting October 28, on Xbox Game Pass for PC!