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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Comparative study of Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great according to Soviet and foreign literature: a survey of literary and historical sources Runge, Johann Hartwig Hermann


In this critical analysis an attempt has been made to compare two Russian monarchs who both left a deep impression on Russia with the help of foreign and Soviet literature. Because of the fact that the strictly literary material was very limited, I had to turn to historical books of various periods and of different countries. These, however, have proved valuable in exposing me to quite contrasting points of view. Both men lend themselves exceptionally well to comparison because many of their doings are almost identical in purpose and vary only in the methods of execution. Soviet historiography has capitalized on this fact and has used literature as a means of showing Ivan the Terrible as a precursor of Peter the Great. At the same time Soviet literature is making an effort to emulate him for the adulation of the Soviet citizenry. Soviet literature today recognizes him as the great centralizer of Russia and the liquidator of the obstructing aristocracy. This comparison stresses the actions and feelings of Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great in similar circumstances and situations. The system of treating the two tsars in almost identical situations has been followed right through this thesis in which I examine them in retrospect, i.e. from a distance 400 and 250 years respectively. Despite my efforts to visualize the tsars clearly, to compare, and to evaluate them and their actions "sine ira et studio", I may have fallen short of the desired standard, for it is quite difficult to deal with subjects as controversial as Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great in a truly objective manner.

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