“Black myths” about the Russian kings. Western anti-Russian information war: from Ivan the Terrible to Paul I
After the invention of typography, the circle of people familiar with the printed word expanded rapidly, and by the end of the 15th century. the books went beyond the narrow circle of the humanistic intelligentsia and theological scholars. It was then that the concept of “information war”, which was not yet terminologically fixed, acquired forms that were completely recognizable by us in the 21st century. Along with the Bible and solid scientific treatises at the beginning of the XVI century. there were also volatile sheets containing four to eight pages of large-typed text, often accompanied by primitive woodcuts - in fact, the “yellow press” of those years.
It was then among these predecessors of the newspapers that the “Russian theme” first appeared. Seriously, the Europeans set about forming ideas about Russia as a country of cruel, aggressive barbarians, slavishly submissive to their tyrants, during the reign of Ivan the Terrible. The blurred image of the schismatic enemy began to take on a more concrete shape.
In January, 1558, Ivan IV Vasilyevich, began the Livonian War for Russia's access to the Baltic Sea. And in 1561 there appeared a piece with the following heading: “Very ugly, terrible, hitherto unheard of, true new news, what kind of atrocities the Muscovites commit with the captive Christians from Livonia, men and women, virgins and children, and what harm they cause every day their country. Along the way, it is shown what the big danger and the need of Livonians are. All Christians were warned and improved their sinful life written from Livonia and printed. Nuremberg 1561. The messages of the “yellow press” were artistically supported. This new type of public-oriented information source has changed its selection and methods of presentation. As in the modern tabloid press, shocking, horrible news is selected and served in such a way as to influence the senses, and not to give an objective picture. Certain stamps are quickly formed. Directly or indirectly, Russians were depicted using negative images of the Old Testament.
Ivan the Terrible was compared with Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar and Herod. He was uniquely identified as a tyrant. It was then that the word "tyrant" became a household name for the definition of all the rulers of Russia in principle.
The authors of the news about the campaigns of Grozny directly "borrowed" descriptions of the Turkish conquests. The Saxon Elector Augustus I became the author of the famous maxim, the meaning of which was reduced to the fact that the Russian danger is comparable only with the Turkish one. Ivan the Terrible was depicted in the dress of the Turkish Sultan. They wrote about his harem from 50-ti wives, and he allegedly killed the annoying ones. Apparently, this explains the persistent desire of modern pro-Western historiography to “count” as many real wives as possible among the real Ivan the Terrible.
The researcher of the printed news about Russia, Ivan the Terrible, A. Kappeler discovered 62 released in the XVI century. volatile leaflet on the Russian theme. Most of them are devoted to the Livonian War, and, of course, all the Russians and their king are depicted in the darkest colors. It is then that the first one appears in stories Polish army marching printing house, the head of which, with the plebeian name Lapka, later received the gentry dignity and the noble family name Lapchinsky. Polish propaganda has worked in several languages and in several areas throughout Europe. And she did it very effectively.
It is clear that even then, in Europe, the so-called double standards already existed. For example, at exactly the same epoch when Grozny lived, Henry VIII in England executed his chancellors one by one. In 1553, when the first English ship reached the area of the future Arkhangelsk, the Catholic queen was Maria Catholic, nicknamed Bloody. She reigned for only five years, but during this time 287 people were burned, including several bishops of the Anglican Church. Many died in the dungeons and were executed in other ways.
In 1570, the Duke of Alba on the Frankfurt Depuction Stage expressed the idea not to send artillery to Muscovy so that it would not become an enemy "formidable not only for the empire, but also for the whole West." And this is the same Duke of Alba, who, being appointed governor of Charles V in the Netherlands, instituted a court that sent 1567 to 1800 people on the scaffold for three months. And after the new offensive of the Protestants from Germany, next year, several thousand people became victims of the massacre, hundreds of thousands fled abroad.
So, it was not the objective cruelty of this or that ruler or military leader that was important, but, so to speak, the recognition system of "friend or foe."
In 1578, surrounded by the Count of Alsace, there emerged a “plan to transform Muscovy into an imperial province,” authored by the former oprichnik, who fled to the west, Heinrich Staden. This project was reported to the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, the Prussian duke, the Swedish and Polish kings. This is what Staden wrote: “One of the brothers of the emperor will govern Russia in the new imperial province. In the occupied territories, the power should belong to the imperial commissars, whose main task will be to provide the German troops with everything necessary at the expense of the population. To do this, it is necessary to assign peasants and merchants to every fortification — twenty or ten miles around — so that they pay salaries to military men and deliver everything they need ... ”
It was proposed to make the Russians prisoners, driving them to castles and cities. From there they can be taken to work, "... but not otherwise, as in iron shackles, filled with lead at the feet ..."
There is also an ideological and religious rationale for the robbery: “German stone churches should be built throughout the country, and Muscovites allowed to build wooden ones. They will soon rot and only the German stone ones will remain in Russia. So the change of religion for the Muscovites will happen painlessly and naturally. When the Russian land ... will be taken, then the borders of the empire will converge with the borders of the Persian Shah ... ". 360 years remained before Hitler's plan “Ost” ...
To justify potential aggression or other hostile actions, not only the foreign policy aggression of the Muscovites, but also the tyranny of their king against his own subjects was mythologized. Although in Europe itself, everything was far from perfect. In 1572, the messenger from Maximilian II, Magnus Pauli, informs Ivan IV of the St. Bartholomew's Night. Serdobolny Ivan the Terrible replied to him that “he mourned the bloodthirstyling that had happened to the French king in his kingdom, several thousand and beaten up to existent infants, and that the peasant sovereign had to admit that the human kingdom of the human kingdom caused blood to i'm talking crazy shed. " Of course, it was impossible to allow France and England to set records for the brutal extermination of their subjects, and therefore Jerome Gorsey in “Notes on Russia” indicates that the oprichniki cut out seven hundred thousand (!) People in Novgorod. The fact that 40 lived in it thousands of people, and the epidemic was raging, and, nevertheless, the lists of the dead, which were completely preserved in the synodics, consist of 2800 people, do not bother anyone. These are the laws of the black PR genre.
The plot of the "tyrannical atrocities of Ivan the Terrible" survived the century. The Livonian War ended a long time ago, the Poles were already trying to reject the original Moscow lands in the XVII century ... and the next engraving "Ivan the Terrible executes Johann Boye, the governor of Weisenstein" appears.
At the end of Peter I’s reign in Germany, the book “Conversations in the Realm of the Dead” is published with pictures of Ivan the Terrible being executed by his enemies. There, by the way, for the first time the Russian sovereign is portrayed as a bear.
The final touch was the spread of the legend about the murder of his own son by Ivan the Terrible. Note that this version is not reflected in any Russian sources. Everywhere, including the personal correspondence of Grozny, one speaks of a rather long illness of John Ivanovich. The murder version was voiced by the papal legate of the Jesuit Antonio Possevino, Heinrich Staden, the Englishman Jerome Gorsei and other foreigners who were not direct witnesses to the death of the prince. N.M. Karamzin and subsequent Russian historians wrote on this subject, taking as a basis Western sources. It is interesting that, as reported by A.A. Sevastyanov, the author of the translation of Gorsei's “Notes”, in the margins of Gorsei’s manuscript, but not with his hand, next to the words “gave him a slap in the face” there is a postscript made by a certain editor, remaining in the text forever and radically changing the version of the death of Gorsei Tsarevich: “threw at him with his sharp staff. " Thus, the “necessary” version of the history of Russia was created in the West, regardless of the true events.
The murder version, as well as the incredible cruelty version, was duly visualized. We see the completion of this process today: just look at the cover of the textbook "History of the Fatherland" for the 10 class, edited by B. Yakemenko.
Why, in the anti-Russian information war, is such attention paid to Grozny? Not at all wanting to idealize this undoubtedly complex figure, I’ll note that it was under him that Russia gained boundaries close to those of today by joining the Volga region and Siberia.
You can challenge these acquisitions, including by denigrating the historical appearance of Ivan the Terrible. It is also important that for the first time Russia fought in the Livonian War against the West as a coalition of states. According to the list of participants, this was a pan-European war. The Moscow kingdom of Ivan the Terrible was at the peak of military and economic power, and it took an effort of half of Europe to keep it out of the seas. It was then that Europe was faced with the choice of recognizing the sovereign of Moscow as “their own,” and the conflict in the Baltic as a “family affair” of European monarchs (in this case, Russia and Poland) or considering Russia as an alien civilization like Muslims. Europe has made its choice ...
We now turn to Emperor Paul I. He is akin to Ivan the Terrible in that his historical image is a specimen of another successful information campaign of the West against Russian tsars. Moreover, under Ivan the Terrible, the degree of westernization of Russia was not great, and the image of Grozny had to be distorted, placing the "necessary" estimates in hindsight. In the case of Pavel, the campaign of “black PR” was conducted on both Western and Russian audiences at the same time, accompanied by a complex of special operations that ultimately led to the physical elimination of Paul by conspirators on the night of March 11 1801. We do not consider this here, for example , the version that Ivan the Terrible was also eliminated with the help of European doctors, for its unprovability. Although the content of mercuric chloride, that is, poisonous mercury chloride in the remains of the king, and here leads to some analogies and reflections ...
The causes of the information war against Emperor Pavel Petrovich are the same as in the days of Grozny. By the end of the XVIII century. The Russian Empire has reached the peak of power, allowing it to challenge all continental Europe on an equal footing.
Actually, later - in 1812-1814. - she did it successfully.
The final years of the reign of Catherine II are characterized by a sharp deterioration in relations with Britain. This deterioration is very easy to follow with a relatively new example. weapons information war - caricatures. The destruction of the robber Crimean Khanate, the strengthening of Russia in the Northern Black Sea Region and the creation of the Black Sea fleetand then the brilliant victories of Admiral Ushakov at sea - all this alarmed England. In the spring of 1791, an acute international conflict flared up, which went down in history as the “Ochakov crisis”. The British cabinet decided to present Muscovy with an ultimatum. Great Britain and Prussia, allied with it, threatened Russia with declaring war if she refused to return the Ochakovo region to Turkey. Diplomatic pressure was accompanied by the creation of an appropriate image of Catherine and her entourage in Europe. In the cartoons we see a bear with the head of Catherine II and Prince G.A. Potemkin with a naked saber in his hand; together, they successfully confront a group of British politicians. Behind the backs of politicians are depicted bishops, one of whom whispers a prayer: "Deliver me, Lord, from the Russian bears ...". Here, the European reader understands allusions to the prayer known in the early Middle Ages, “Deliver me, Lord, from the wrath of the Normans ...”. Again, as in the time of Grozny, Russia is represented as barbarians threatening the Europeans. However, there is a shift in the emphasis of the information war. The “Russian threat” is no longer equivalent to the Turkish one. She is much more dangerous.
I must say, the British pressure had some effect. Most members of the Russian government were inclined to meet the requirements of England. But Catherine II showed political firmness. Russian diplomacy was able to direct the public opinion of the British into an anti-war course and force the British government to abandon its demands. It did not end in humiliating concessions to European diplomats, as already happened, but in the victorious Yassy world, which finally approved Russia in the Black Sea region and made it the arbiter in relations between the Orthodox Balkan peoples and the Ottoman Empire. This was achieved thanks to the use of his weapon against the West - manipulation of public opinion, including with the help of caricatures.
The first real Russian political caricature is the painting “The Balance of Europe in 1791” by Gavriil Skorodumov, depicting large scales, which are tilted in the direction where the Suvorov Grenadier stands in the bowl - “yes and gruzen” - outweighing all enemies of Russia.
Catherine unequivocally hints at how the “Ochakov question” will be solved if England continues its policy. This language in England was well understood ... and retreated.
After the first defeat, the English propaganda machine began to work at full capacity. The target was the "Russian atrocity" and our most famous commander, A.V. Suvorov. The good reason was found quickly: the suppression of the Polish uprising. The blow was struck at once by Catherine herself, the best Russian commander and the Russian people, who were hailed as “inhuman Cossacks.” The classic battle paintings and caricature were also involved. On them, the Cossacks destroy civilians, and Suvorov (this is his first, but not the last appearance in English caricatures), who approached the throne, stretches Catherine the heads of Polish women and children with the words: “So, my Royal Mistress, I fully executed your affectionate mother's assignment to the lost people of Poland, and brought to you a Collection of Ten Thousand Heads, carefully separated from their lost bodies the day after the Surrender. ” Behind Suvorov, three of his soldiers are shown carrying baskets with the heads of the unfortunate regiments.
The offensive in the “yellow press” on Russia in general, and Suvorov in particular, reached its peak under Emperor Paul I, who was guided exclusively by the interests of Russia in foreign policy. The commander appeared before a European philistine in the guise of a bloodthirsty devourer of enemy armies, a sort of ghoul-bloodsucker. Let's pay attention - these caricatures are dated 1799-1800, that is, in the meantime, when Russia acts as the ALLY of England against revolutionary France! But by that time geopolitical contradictions had reached such a heat that no one in England paid attention to such “trifles” anymore. It was during these years that antisuvor hysteria was gaining momentum. A later characteristic note about Suvorov published in the English newspaper The Times, January 26, 1818 contains, for example, the following characteristic: “all honors cannot wash off the shame of capricious cruelty from his character and compel the historian to paint his portrait in any other colors , except for those that deserve a lucky crazy militarist or clever savage. "
This attitude to the personality of Suvorov is preserved in Western historical science today. This is one of the laws of information wars: a correctly propagated myth is perceived by the children of its creators as the ultimate truth.
As for Paul I, they immediately started talking about the madness and the overthrow of the king. Already at the coronation of 5 on April 1797, the British “predict”: “An important event will soon happen in the Russian Empire. I don’t dare to say more, but I’m afraid of it ... ” This “prediction” coincided with Paul’s refusal to send troops against France. He had the “audacity” not to fight for interests far from the interests of Russia. The British had to give promises: a naval base in the Mediterranean in Malta, the division of spheres of influence in Europe, etc. Of course, upon completion of the victorious campaigns of A.V. Suvorov, British gentlemen, as they say, "threw" the Muscovites. But Pavel in response pointedly went for an anti-British alliance with France, thus anticipating the thought of his great-grandson, Alexander III, for eight decades. After this, the intensity of anti-Pavlovian and anti-Russian hysteria in the English press reaches its highest limit. Paul is called “His Muscovite Majesty” - hello, so to speak, from the times of the Livonian War! Already in January, the central English newspapers are making informational jabs about the coming overthrow of Paul: “We therefore expect to hear with the next post, that the generous Paul stopped ruling!” Or “The big changes, apparently, have already happened in the Russian government, or cannot fail soon". There are dozens of such messages in January-February, they are invariably accompanied by an indication of the emperor's dementia. Indeed, who else could be the man who did the same to Britain as it did to all the continental countries? The theme of the alliance with Napoleonic France, as deadly for Britain, caused furious attacks. For example, in one of the cartoons, Napoleon leads to the chain of the Russian Bear - Paul. The caricature should have emphasized the dependent role of Russia in the upcoming alliance with France, which was not true. The poem accompanying the picture contains an amazing “foresight”. Bear-Paul says: “Soon my power will fall!”, And the blame for the future lies on Paul himself with the words “I am preparing my fall very hard”.
It is difficult to interpret this differently as a signal to the already formed team of the murderers of Paul I and how to prepare the public opinion of Europe for the coming “changes” in Russia. It’s obviously not worth pitying the crazy monster depicted ...
Although at that time they still perfectly understood that this was only propaganda: in the very newspapers where it was written about the insanity of the Russian tsar, it was recognized that his foreign policy line was quite reasonable. According to British observers, “Malta is not just Paul’s whim”, but quite coincides with the interests of Russia to have a base in the Mediterranean against Turkey. Having acted within the framework of the Second Neutrality, the Russian fleet was able to break the British blockade of Europe and land troops on the British Isles - a long-time fear of the British. This rationalism of the policy of Paul and its compliance with the interests of Russia were recognized through clenched teeth by English diplomats of those years, but to this day he does not recognize the Russian historiographic tradition ...
But back to the information war of the winter of 1801 ... on January 27, the British press reported that “a Russian official arrived in London with the news on the removal of Paul and the appointment of the Regency Council, headed by the Empress and Prince Alexander. " There was exactly one and a half months left until Paul’s death ...
This is a kind of black magic of information warfare: stubbornly repeating what you want to achieve, as if it ALREADY happened, you are changing Reality, preparing in advance to accept what is yet to happen. The Europeans used this information warfare technique for the first time, but not the last time! No one was surprised either in Europe or in Russia when 11 in March 1801 of the emperor Paul was killed ...
So, our historiography is cluttered with myths created specifically for Russia in order to belittle our history and our rulers. The image of each Russian tsar is accompanied by a personal “black myth” of Western origin. And we need to tirelessly debunk this pile of lies.
- Maltsev D.A. - Candidate of Historical Sciences, Senior Researcher of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies
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