In 1472, Ivan III married Sophia Paleologus, the niece of the last Emperor of Byzantium. Pope Paul II arranged their marriage.
Ivan the Terrible married seven times and even proposed to a lady in the court of Queen Elizabeth I of England
In 1698 Peter the Great issued a beard tax, to be paid by anyone refusing to cut off their old-fashioned Russian bears, in favor of a clean-shaven Western look.
Catherine the Great was the first leader to initiate a large scale inoculation program. In 1768 she immunized herself and her subjects against smallpox.
Narrator: It was an empire that rose out of the ashes of barbarian conquest, straddled 15 time zones and swallowed one-sixth of the entire world's land mass. Fueled by 400 years of chaos the Russian Empire was forged by a lion's den of larger than life Czars, whose tyrannical designs were as colossal as the country itself. These visionaries would drive Russia's rise to greatness, adapting foreign technologies to seize power, capture territory and engineer and empire. But the same drive that fueled Russia's thirst for everlasting glory would ultimately devour its own people.
Cynthia Hyla Whittaker
University of Cincinnati
European University of St. Petersburg
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