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BEFORE his birth in 1530, many omens were observed and many prophecies made about the child to be born to the second wife of Vasily III as he was to be descended from generations in conflict and, to aid these predictions, he was born in the middle of a thunderstorm. Ivan had Greek origins although his mother was from the line of Khan Mamay of the Golden Horde and his father, Vasily III, was descended from one of the Khan's enemies, Dmitry Donskoy. On hearing of his birth, the wife of the Khan of Kazan is reported to have said, "A Tsar is born among you; two teeth has he. With one he will devour us. But with the other, you." Ivan became Tsar (from the word 'Caesar') at the age of three, although power was held by regents who were named by Ivan's father on his deathbed. Ivan and his brother were treated like princes in public but, when not in public, treated harshly. As a result to this, Ivan began to treat others badly too, torturing animals, running down peasants with his horse; thus learning this cruel side of ruling at an early age. The story begins with Ivan's coronation at the age of sixteen. One month later, contrary to custom that demanded he marry a foreign princess, he marries Anastasia, a Russian girl from the Romanov family - much to the distaste of the establishment. Influenced by the Metropolitan of Moscow and his good friend the chamberlain Alexi Adashev, Ivan institutes many reforms to the legal code, the church and the military. The nobles try to overthrow him but without success and he destroys the Mogul's centuries-old power base. He then seeks to break the coalitions of neighbouring states that are cutting off Moscow's maritime access to the West. Ivan then decides to expand his power eastward and, in 1552, with 100,000 men and 150 cannon he advances on Kazan. The gateway to the Urals and Siberia was taken after months of fighting although Ivan does not advance further east. Ivan becomes ill in 1553 and is told that he will die. He tries to force the boyars, who are headed by his aunt Euphrosinia, swear allegiance to his son who is not yet one year old, but they refuse. This outrages Ivan. In 1560, during a period of consolidation of power against the boyars, Anastasia is poisoned. This causes Ivan to retreat to an estate outside Moscow and threaten to abdicate. A mass delegation from the city arrives to beg him to return. This is the decisive moment for Ivan - now he can achieve full power.