When work on the picture was completed, it was seen by the Chief Prosecutor of the Holy Synod, Konstantin Pobedonostsev, the main ideologist of the Russian Empire at the end of the 19th century. Pobedonostsev did not just not like the picture. The “court conservative” expressed his most decisive indignation, since he considered that the picture not only undermines the foundations of autocracy, but also contributes to the assertion of a historical myth that does not correspond to reality. Ivan the Terrible did not kill his son, Konstantin Pobedonostsev was convinced.
Ultimately, 1 April 1885, Repin's picture was banned from being shown in the Russian Empire. So for the first time censorship banned the picture - before literary works were censored. However, already 11 July 1885, the ban on the display of the picture was lifted. They say that the artist-battle artist Alexei Bogolyubov, who was close to the imperial court and had a certain influence on the authorities, applied for the work of Ilya Repin. After the censorship restrictions were lifted, the picture was able to be publicly available. Soon it became the main symbol of the myth of the Tsar, the sonic killer, which is still cultivated even in the school system of education.
What so outraged Pobedonostsev, and then the Emperor Alexander III himself in the picture? First of all, its historical unreliability. There is still no real evidence in favor of the fact that it was Ivan the Terrible who killed Prince Ivan. The cruel scene of sonicide depicted in the picture is not just the figment of the artistic imagination of Ilya Repin. As early as the 16th century, rumors about the murder of Ivan Ivanovich by his own father were widely spread in Europe precisely at the suggestion of European diplomats who worked at the Moscow court. They were interested in discrediting the Russian state by any means, including through the depiction of Tsar John the Terrible by the cruel murderer and psychopath, who raised his hand to his own son, the heir to the throne.
- Tsarevich Ivan for a walk. Avilov M.I. 1913 year.
Tsarevich Ivan was the son of John IV and his wife Anastasia Romanova. He was born in 1554 year. Since his older brother Dmitry died in infancy in the 1553 year, even before the birth of Ivan, the latter was the eldest living son of John IV and, accordingly, the heir to the throne. Grown up Ivan accompanied Grozny in military campaigns, participated in government, in a word - gradually preparing for the role of the future king. However, historians agree that Ivan Ivanovich was not an independent political figure of Moscow Russia. In his short life, Ivan Ivanovich was married three times. Each of the marriages of the young prince could be called unsuccessful.
The first time Ivan Ivanovich married in the 1571 year, 17-years old, Evdokia Saburova - the daughter of the boyar Bogdan Yuryevich Saburov. However, already in 1572, the princess was tonsured a nun. Officially, she was tonsured because of her childlessness, however, it is more likely that Evdokia somehow angered Ivan the Terrible and he decided to get rid of her daughter-in-law, while Ivan Ivanovich himself loved Evdokia and was very unhappy with her father’s decision.
In the 1575 year, three years after Yevdokia's vows, Ivan Ivanovich married the second time - Theodosia Solova, daughter of the Ryazan boyar of the Horde origin, Mikhail Timofeevich Petrov. With Theodosia, the prince, she lived for almost four years - until 1579, but she was also a nun - also for childlessness. The latest version looks quite realistic, because in four years Theodosius never bore a heir to the prince.
Finally, in 1581, Ivan Ivanovich married Elena Sheremeteva, the daughter of the celebrated commander Ivan "The Little" Vasilyevich Sheremetev, who was killed in the siege of Revel in 1577. The girl she was beautiful, however, the king Sheremetev was unpleasant to Tsar John IV. Therefore, most likely, the prince made his own choice, and this immediately brought on a negative attitude from his father. It was Elena Sheremeteva who, according to the popular version, became the “cause” of the conflict between John IV and his son.
Jesuit Antonio Possevino in 1581 arrived in Moscow as a papal legate. An experienced 47-year-old diplomat, former secretary of the Jesuit general, Possevino was sent by the Vatican to Russia for several tasks. First, he had to persuade the Moscow Tsar to unite with the Catholic Church, and secondly, to offer Ivan the Terrible, in exchange for the union of the Orthodox and Catholic churches under the rule of the Pope, the Polish crown. It was Possevino who left a note in which he told his version of the death of Tsarevich Ivan Ivanovich, which happened just in 1581 year.
According to Possevino, Elena Sheremeteva was in her lower dress in her peace when the Grand Duke of Moscow Ivan the Terrible entered her. The monarch, who was notable for his hot temper, instantly became enraged at the appearance of the princess and severely beat her with a staff. The princess was pregnant, but the day after the beating, she had a miscarriage. At a time when Ivan the Terrible was beating the princess, his son Ivan Ivanovich rushed into the chambers and tried to stop the beatings. However, the angry king, as Possevino noted, hit his son with a staff in the temple, inflicting a mortal wound on him.
It was this version expressed by the papal legate that later formed the basis of the spreading myth about the murder of his son by Ivan the Terrible. Other Western travelers who visited Russia, for example, Heinrich Staden, who for some time was even a royal oprichnik, began to report on the death of the prince as a result of a blow by the king's baton. Whether a spy, or just a rogue, Heinrich Staden left completely Russophobic notes, which were later criticized by domestic historians as unreliable.
Meanwhile, besides the papal legate no one no longer testified not only about the death of the prince at the hands of his father, but also about the violent reasons for the death of the heir to the throne. Ivan the Terrible himself in a letter to N. R. Zakhar'in-Yuryev and A. Ya. Shelkanov, wrote that his son was seriously ill and therefore he could not come to Moscow. The Russian chronicles report the death of the prince, but nowhere does it say that he was killed or died from the consequences of his injury.
Another version paints Ivan the Terrible as a libertine who sexually harassed his daughter-in-law, and Ivan Ivanovich, outraged, entered into a conflict with his father and then the king struck him in the temple with a rod. But this version has absolutely no evidence.
However, many Russian historians subsequently took the Possevino story as a basis, although in some writings it was altered beyond recognition. For example, Nikolai Karamzin, without denying the murder of the prince by Ivan the Terrible himself, argued that Ivan Ivanovich was killed by his father during a political discussion, when he demanded that the king send an army to liberate Pskov. Then Ivan the Terrible was furious and hit the prince with a rod in the head. However, when the prince fell, the king came to the realization that he had done. He rushed to his son, cried, prayed to God for the salvation of the prince, but all was in vain. It was the version of Nikolay Karamzin that formed the basis of the artistic intention of the famous painting by Ilya Repin.
However, the Pskov Chronicle indicates that the conflict between the king and the prince because of the liberation of Pskov did take place, but in the year 1580 and was in no way connected with the death of Ivan Ivanovich. Grozny really hit his son with a rod, but did not cause him fatal injuries. Whatever it was, but on November 19, 1581, Ivan Ivanovich died at the age of 27 years in Alexandrov Sloboda (now it is the territory of the city of Alexandrov, Vladimir region). Historical sources indicate that Ivan Ivanovich died slowly, due to a severe illness that struck him, which remained uncertain.
In 1903, Russian historian Nikolai Petrovich Likhachev concluded that the prince’s illness lasted eleven days. At first she seemed easy and did not attach importance to her, but then the prince became worse. Invited healers could not save the heir to the throne, and 19 November, he died. For Ivan the Terrible, the death of his son, the heir to the throne, was a powerful blow and in many ways undermined the health of the king, who died two and a half years after the departure of Ivan Ivanovich. Ivan Ivanovich, and then his father Ivan the Terrible, was buried in the Cathedral of the Archangel.
In the 1963 year, almost 400 years after the death of Ivan Ivanovich and Ivan the Terrible, scientists organized an examination of the remains of the king and the prince. To this end, an opening of the tombs of Ivan the Terrible and Ivan Ivanovich was organized in the Archangel Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin. The remains were given for medical forensic and medico-chemical expertise. Research data showed that in the remains of the prince, for an inexplicable reason, the mercury content was exceeded 32 times, the lead and arsenic contents were several times higher. This circumstance may indicate only one thing - the prince could have been poisoned. Then the reason for his illness and death within eleven days becomes clear.
Naturally, the scientists tried to establish the fact that Ivan Ivanovich wounds the head. However, the skull of the heir to the royal throne was in such a poor condition due to the collapse of the bone tissue that it was impossible to find out whether Ivan Ivanovich had any injuries or not. If it were not for this circumstance, then we could have forever received reliable evidence that it was not at all the quarrel with his father that became the real cause of the young prince's death.
Thus, we see that the myth of the sonish murder of Ivan the Terrible was deliberately inflated by Western sources as another proof of the wild customs allegedly reigning in Russia. Meanwhile, real historical sources show that even during the reign of the hot-tempered Ivan the Terrible, justice in Moscow Russia was much more humane and milder than in Western countries. No death sentence could be approved without the consent of the sovereign. And very often Ivan the Terrible pardoned criminals, including those who committed serious crimes and in theory should have been executed in any case.
In addition, Ivan the Terrible was very gentle even with respect to outspoken conspirators, for example, he endured Vladimir Staritsky for a very long time — his cousin who made all kinds of intrigues and intrigues in order to eliminate Ivan the Terrible. The plot of Vladimir Staritsky was opened in 1563, but the autocrat, who was able to simply destroy the conspirator, simply deprived him of the right to live in the Kremlin and removed him from the courtyard. In 1566, Ivan the Terrible forgave Vladimir Starytsky and brought him back to court. However, Vladimir Staritsky did not appreciate the mercy of John IV and continued his conspiratorial plans. In the end, the patience of Ivan the Terrible broke. In the 1569 year, after taking Ivan the Terrible, Staritsky felt bad and soon died. For six years Ivan the Terrible tolerated the conspirator in his circle and forgave him several times. Meanwhile, one can recall how “humane” were the European states of that time, where the Holy Inquisition raged, and kings and queens led a way of life, compared to which Ivan the Terrible was just a child.
It was during the reign of John IV that the Russian state began to turn truly into a powerful state, which included in its membership the fragments of the Golden Horde - the Astrakhan and Kazan Khanates, which led successful wars against their strong opponents. Naturally, this circumstance could not come to the liking of the rulers of the countries of Western Europe and, most importantly, the Vatican. The popes, claiming a leading role in the Christian world, could not accept the fact that the Orthodox state had acquired such power. Therefore, numerous undercover games were waged against Ivan the Terrible, and since the tsar could not be eliminated with the help of intrigues, it was decided to start an “information war” against him. Ivan the Terrible appears in the notes of Western diplomats and travelers as a crazy, aggressive, depraved despot, and the myth about the murder of his own son serves only as an illustration of this line of Western sources regarding the Russian state and its ruler.