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Full Access Simeon Bekbulatovich and Mongol Influence on Ivan IV’s Muscovy

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Simeon Bekbulatovich and Mongol Influence on Ivan IV’s Muscovy

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Donald Ostrowski’s article “Simeon Bekbulatovich’s Remarkable Career as Tatar Khan, Grand Prince of Rus’, and Monastic Elder” is a masterful summary of the sources and scholarly works which discuss Simeon’s career. However, Ostrowski does not consistently apply the principles of source criticism to his sources, mention sources which we would expect to refer to Simeon but do not, discuss popular views of Simeon, or put scholarly theories of Ivan’s motives in abdicating and elevating Simeon to the throne into the context of their author’s views of Ivan or Mongol influence on Russia. Ostrowski’s theory that Ivan, according to Imperial envoy Daniel Printz’s assertion, was responding to a boyar plot to replace him with Devlet-Girei, Khan of the Crimea, fails to take into account such facts as that Devlet-Girei was a Muslim. Nor does Ostrowski integrate his theory of Simeon’s installation into his own theory of Mongol influence on Russia or his diverse observations on the conception of the Muscovite tsar’ as a khan, by Ivan and the Muscovite elite. In fact Ostrowski’s conclusions on Mongol institutional and social influence can be contested. It may be more likely that by his role-reversal with Simeon, Ivan was just satirizing his own autocratic pretensions, as epitomized in his famous “petition” to Simeon that he be granted the right to establish his own appanage.

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