The Death Of Ivan The Terrible's Son Explained

The history of the Russian continent is vast and oftentimes treacherous. Since its foundation, the eastern domain's political lineage sports no less than 46 ruling entities over the course of several centuries (with Vladimir Putin ruling two separate times) some of whom stand out more than others. Ivan Grozny, most often referred to as Ivan the Terrible, ruled over Russia for 51 years (1533-1584) and, suffice it to say, earned his namesake throughout that time (per Britannica).

Ivan the Terrible's notorious reign was soaked in the sort of nightmarish antics that truly makes tyrants terrible. His deteriorating mental state and rampant paranoia spurned an infamous saga of murder, destruction, and economic turmoil that Russia and the world at large still shudder at today. His preferred execution methods included boiling enemies alive, impaling them, and tearing them limb from limb. Nonetheless, it would appear that even history's most terrible know when they've done something truly terrible. In 1581, three years before his death, Ivan's guilty conscience reared its ugly head after he murdered his own son in cold blood (via Sky History).

Sins of the father

On the night of November 16, 1581, Ivan the Terrible was traversing the halls of his palace when he encountered his daughter-in-law in one of the hallways. After surmising that her clothing was far too promiscuous and light fitting, he took it upon himself to chastise and shame her on the spot (via On This Day). Or, as Sky History tells it, the tsar happened upon his pregnant daughter-in-law "in a state of undress" and beat her so badly she miscarried. 

Whichever the case, after learning of how his father attacked his wife, the younger Ivan, heir to the throne, descended upon the scene in vehement defense of his wife. The altercation quickly escalated and the father, in a fury of rage and petulant frustration, struck his son on the head with his scepter. The blow leveled Ivan Ivanovich immediately and he crashed to the floor, but it wasn't until three days later that he died from head trauma.

The father, stricken with grief and guilt, lived out his remaining years in lonely agony and shame. He died of a stroke while playing chess on March 18, 1584, at 53 years old (per Sky History).