Ivan IV Vasilyevich, known as Ivan the Terrible (1530–1584) was Grand Prince of Moscow from 1533. His nickname is associated with might, power and strictness, rather than poor performance, horror or cruelty; it is more accurately translated it into English as Ivan the Awesome. The Grand Prince Ivan having overseen numerous changes in the transition from a mere local medieval nation state to a small empire and emerging regional power, became acknowledged as the first Tsar of a new more powerful nation, became "Tsar of All Russia" from 1547. Ivan was intelligent, devout, and impulsive; given to rages. One notable outburst resulted in the death of his chosen heir – Ivan Ivanovich. His long reign saw the transforming of Russia into a multiethnic state spanning almost 1 billion acres.
Peter I the Great or Pyotr Alexeyevich Romanov (1672–1725) ruled Russia and later the Russian Empire from1682 until his death. Peter carried out a policy of Westernization and expansion that transformed the Tsardom of Russia into the 3-billion acre Russian Empire, a major European power. He is cited as one of the greatest rulers in the 17th century, ranking alongside Louis XIV of France. Peter implemented sweeping reforms aimed at modernizing Russia; he reorganized the Russian army along European lines and dreamed of making Russia a maritime power. He faced much opposition to these policies at home, but brutally suppressed any and all rebellions against his authority, Peter implemented social westernization in an absolute manner by requiring courtiers, state officials, and the military to shave their beards and adopt Western clothing styles.
Catherine II, called Catherine the Great (1729 – Dowager Empress of Russia from 1762 until1796). The reign of Catherine the Great saw the high point of the Russian nobility. Peter III, under pressure from the nobility, had already augmented the authority of the great landed proprietors over their muzhiks and serfs. In spite of the duties imposed on the nobles by the first "modernizer" of Russia, Tsar Peter I, and despite her friendships with the western European thinkers of the Enlightenment, Catherine II found it impractical to improve the lot of her poorest subjects, who continued to suffer military conscription. The distinctions between peasant rights on votchina and pomestie estates virtually disappeared in law as well as in practice during her reign