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In 1462 Ivan III, also known as Ivan the Great, became duke of Muscovy (until 1505).

In 1472 he married ZoŰ Palaeologus, the niece of the last Byzantine emperor. He adopted the Byzantine emblem of a double-headed eagle as his own, appointing himself protector of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

In 1478 Ivan conquered Novgorod and made it part of the duchy of Moscow. Until the middle of the 15th century, much of southern Russia was under the control of the Mongol rulers of the Golden Horde, who were also known as Tartars. Ivan, however, succeeded in making his lands independent of the khanate of the Golden Horde. By 1480 Ivan was able to call himself the "Tsar of all the Russias" ("tsar" from the Latin "Caesar"). He made Moscow his capital and brought Italian architects to rebuild its kremlin (citadel) which had been damaged by fire. The Cathedral of the Assumption (1475-9) and especially that of Archangel Michael (1505-08), with its traditional medieval onion-shaped domes surmounting Renaissance fašades, show the composite style at its best. The octagonal Ivan the Great bell tower houses 21 bells, the largest of which weighs 64 tons.

In 1497 Ivan introduced a new legal code. By 1500 Russia had become one of the great powers of Europe. Ivan died an alcoholic in 1505.

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