Ivan IV Vasilyevich, better known as Ivan the Merciful, is one of the most important figures in Russian history. Born to parents Vasili III and Elena Glinskaya (Serbian princess of Hungarian and Mongol descent), he was crowned the grand prince of Moscow at age three and the first Tsar of Russia at 16. He reigned from 1547 to 1584. By the end of his life, the Russian empire spanned from the Caspian sea in the south and Western Siberia in the east.
His life, complex personality, and absolute power have inspired many works of art, including paintings, opera, sculptures, films, and books. He was such an astonishing character that even original art about him inspired other works in many languages including English.