Did the Russian State... Part VIII by Nils Johann (The Circumstance of the Two Ruling Houses, and their Nobility)
“And men have less scruple in offending one who makes himself loved than one who makes himself feared; for love is held by a chain of obligation which, men being selfish, is broken whenever it serves their purpose; but fear is maintained by a dread of punishment which never fails.”
Ivan had slowly started to take command as Grand Duke at about age thirteen. It seems that Ivan stemmed the bickering, by having a Shuiskii Prince torn by his hunting-dogs in the Kremlin- Square. In political terms, we call that establishing credibility. Just like Henry, Ivan had to use force and terror to get his Barons in line, in order to lay the foundation for future negotiation.
After he turned sixteen in 1547, Ivan was Crowned as the first 'Czar of all Russians'. In the first years of Ivan's reign, reforms were made to gather more power around the Sovereign, centralizing government and formalizing and reformulating acts of government. Like in other domains in Western Europe, a move away from feudal structuring towards an attempt at central bureaucracy was in formation.
The similarity that we can recognize, in the background of the two rulers, is that their position is the result of preceding conflict between their respective houses, and other noble families. Their realms had been formed by the use of organized violence and were maintained by the use of force...deadly if need be. This is nothing especially original. An anecdote from Herodotus' Histories comes to mind, that might illustrate this. It is a story about Thrasybulus, the Despot of Miletos and Periander, the Tyrant of Corinth. Periander sends a messenger to asks Thrasybulus for advice on ruling, and on how to stay in power. Instead of responding verbally Thrasybulus takes the messenger for a walk in a field of corn.
“he kept cutting off the heads of those ears of corn which he saw higher than the rest; and as he cut off their heads he cast them away, until he had destroyed in this manner the finest and richest part of the crop.”
The messenger conveys what he had seen happen, to Periander, adding that he has doubts about Thrasybulus sanity. The message was still correctly interpreted by Periander; a wise ruler would pre-empt challenges to his rule by removing those prominent men who might be powerful enough to challenge him. “...to put to death those who were eminent among his subjects.”
It is the simple story about how power is taken and maintained and it is foolish to assume that not any person of power operates in this way, because social bonds are fragile. It is perfectly rational for a monarch to harbor some resentment towards nobles because he often would be in economical counter-conjuncture to them. More 'taxes' for the monarch would mean less for the nobles or vice versa. It would also be rational to feel insecure about them as they, (the other wealthy and powerful families,) were the ones the Monarch had to rely on for the stability of his reign. Monarchy (Autocracy) is a 'reference-system' for organization and order, no-one has, or will ever, rule alone.