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Word Count: 525
During the reign of Tsar Ivan IV he created a special force of men known as the Oprichnina loyal directly to him Although they looked like monks wearing black and riding black horses they were violent and are similar to modern day gangsters In a final count the Oprichnina numbered 6000 An Oprichnik one of the members had a dogs head and a broom drawn onto his saddle which meant they sniff out treason like dogs and sweep everything the Tsar wanted out of his land The Oprichnina controlled a state within a state They were ruled under a demeritocracy meaning they were rewarded for being bad and evil To become an Oprichnik a recruit would have to be interviewed by someone in Ivans court or by Ivan himself The recruits encompassed Boyars or even foreigners who were screened carefully to determine if they were of the right type to be an Oprichnik They had to have everything to do with the people the Tsar did like did not have anything to do with people he did not like Ivan found many ways of utilizing the Oprichnina to further his control They murdered on Ivans whim and did whatever was necessary They took land from many groups of people including Boyars who displace from their land that became property of the Oprichnina When Ivan became sick in 1553 his cousin Prince Vladimir of Staritsa claimed he was heir to the throne Ivan did not die and when he was healthy again he had the Prince killed To gain control over the Church Ivan had Oprichniki kill priests and others who had to do with the Church One of the more remarkable killings was the murder of Metropolitan Philip of Moscow He would not bless Ivan during a church service because of the Tsars evil ways This angered the Tsar so he had Philip killed strangled by an Oprichnik Again Ivan took action against the Church
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