This essay focuses upon the limitations to Ivan iv’s biography set by the extant sources. Due to these limitations, some important episodes of the tsar’s life, including his participation in the administrative reforms carried out during his reign, remain unknown. Moreover, these lacunae cannot be filled in with mere logical conjectures. However, the situation is not totally hopeless. For instance, Ivan’s major concerns during the oprichnina can be revealed with the help of the marginal notes in the Royal Archive’s inventory which fixed the tsar’s uses of the documents. Apart from careful reexamination of the available sources, hopes for further insights into Ivan’s biography and reign are pinned on the applying of the emic approach, history of concepts and historical comparison.