The following item appeared in our newspaper last week:“On this date in 1547, Ivan IV of Russia, popularly known as ‘Ivan the Terrible,’ was crowned Czar.”
This got me wondering: Just how dreadful must the other candidates have been, if the man popularly known as ‘Ivan the Terrible’ was crowned Czar? Then I discovered a rare transcript of the Czar Search Committee from early 1547.
“Thank you all for coming. Let us get right to the point. Vlad the Horrendous, you have many qualities we were looking for in a leader. But I’m afraid the committee has decided to go in a different direction. With so many ruthless applicants, we hope you understand our dilemma. Sergei the Atrocious, you were under serious consideration, as were you, Igor the Malodorus. All in Russia have heard of your great exploits, and of the Cossack town, Slovitch the Serene, known since your visit as Slovitch the Smoldering; surely never again will any innkeeper be so imprudent as to suggest that you and your men should ‘sleep with the pigs.’ The decision we announce today should not be understood as disparaging your capacity for pillaging and plundering. Keep up the---ah, work. I must say, Pavel the Appalling, the committee was impressed with your collection of Polish toes, until one member pointed out that it is impossible to determine if, as you say, they were cut off the unfortunate peasants following your sacking of a defenseless town, or they simply reflect natural Siberian-winter toe-loss. Dimitri the Despicable, and Nicolai the Nefarious, we love the alliteration; but although we have no reason to doubt your claim to be scoundrels of the baser sort, we were unable to verify any truly heinous acts ascribed to you.”