Deadliest Warrior (2011): S03E07 – Ivan the Terrible vs. Hernan Cortes


Deadliest Warrior is a 2009 documentary series in which the great warriors of history are examined for fantasy combat simulations.


Ivan the Terrible, the insane czar who united his country, vs. Hernan Cortes, the Spanish conquistador who destroyed the Aztec Empire.

  • Ivan the Terrible Team: Vladimir Orlov (Russian Special Forces Trainer), Andrew Jenks, PhD (Professor of Russian Studies)
    Ivan the Terrible Weapons: Sablia, Bardiche, Pishcal
    Ivan the Terrible Armour: Plated mail, Fluted helmet
  • Hernán Cortés Team: Jason Heck (16th Century Weapons Expert), Kyle Lopez (Spanish Colonial Expert)
    Hernán Cortés Weapons: Espada ropera, Alabarda, Arquebus
    Hernán Cortés Armour: Steel Breastplate, Tassets, Morion helmet
  • This is the first episode to feature matchlock rifles, disproving the myth of their inaccuracy.
  • For short-range weapons, the sablia was tested against the espada ropera in slashing, thrusting, and horseback performance. The sablia passed both tests while the espada ropera cut a pig in half but failed on horseback. The edge was given for the sablia for its performance on horseback.
  • For mid-range weapons, the bardiche was tested against the alabarda in eliminating a gel torso and an opponent on horseback. The bardiche completely destroyed the gel torso but failed to take out the rider while the alabarda eliminated both the gel torso and the rider. The edge was given the alabarda for its lighter weight, flexibility, and reach.
  • For long-range weapons, the arquebus was tested against the pishcal in eliminating 3 targets and piercing the opposing warrior’s armour. Although both weapons killed all three targets with only two shots and pierced the opposing warrior’s armour, the edge was given to the pishcal for its faster reload, better accuracy and its stabilising mount (the arquebus used a stave to stabilize the gun’s barrel as the pischal used the bardiche; one of Mack’s notes on this was that you had a weapon already prepared for use once the opponent was within a range that made the gun useless.)
  • For armour, Cortés’ steel cuirass was compared to Ivan’s plated mail in protection capability. Although both suits could be pierced by the opponent’s long-range weapon, the edge was given to Cortés’ steel cuirass for better resistance against thrusting and slashing blows.
  • This is the second episode to have a neutral nonparticipant both be in and die in the simulation, the first simulation to use slow motion, and the first time a warrior forcibly sacrifices one of his men (Ivan the Terrible uses him as a human shield).
  • Hernán Cortés is tied with the Spetsnaz leader and Crazy Horse for most humans killed in the final battle with 4 kills.
  • A bonus clip showcases each conqueror’s preferred method of torture: Ivan’s quartering and Cortés’ garrotte.

Re-enactment 29

The battle begins in a field with Ivan the Terrible knelt in a silent prayer, surrounded by 2 Oprichniki horsemen and 2 streltsy. He looks toward the sky, and then looks down to a bloodied prisoner tied to two horses, who is about to be pulled apart. Ivan smirks at the condemned as he rises from his kneeling position. Elsewhere, Hernan Cortés and 4 of his Conquistadors are out for a ride when Cortés suddenly spots the group of men. Ivan nods to one of the hooded Oprichniki and the horsemen begin to pull. Ivan laughs at the prisoner’s pain as Cortés, who has dismounted from horseback, shows concern and signals for his men to take position with their Arquebuses. Ivan immediately stops laughing when he notices the group of men aiming their firearms at his death squad. Cortés gives the signal with his sword and the conquistadors open fire. Before the gunmen fire, Ivan quickly grabs one of his soldiers and pulls him in front of him. The soldier is killed by the assault of bullets but the Tsar is only knocked to the ground. As the Spanish Soldiers hurry to reload their Arquebuses, Ivan gets back to his feet and runs over to one of the horses, pulling the Oprichnik down. Meanwhile, the last Russian soldier sets up his Bardiche as a mount for his Pischal, shooting and killing one of the Spaniards who shot the other soldier. Ivan draws his Sablia and rides on, pulling the prisoner in half and dragging the torso behind him. The remaining soldier and the dismounted Oprichnik charge the Spaniards. The conquistadors calmly hold their ground as one of the Spaniards takes an Alabarda from his horse and hands it to Cortés. As the Conquistadors continue to reload, Ivan rides up and slashes one of them in the face, killing him instantly. He then changes course and rides to a retreating conquistador who has his Espada Ropera drawn and slashes him in the back of the neck, also killing him. Elsewhere, the mounted Oprichnik draws his Sablia and rides towards Cortés, who is still armed with his Alabarda. Cortés holds his ground and reaches with the poleaxe, pulling the hooded man down from horseback. Cortés then raises the pike end and brings it down into the Oprichnik’s face. The last Oprichnik charges at Cortés with his sabre drawn. Cortés lifts the halberd from the dead man’s hood, parrying the sword and countering with a thrust attack, which impales the Oprichnik through the chest. Cortés then calls for his horse, which the last mounted conquistador brings to him. The last conquistador then rides on with his sword drawn. However, he is shot off his horse by the last Russian soldier, who then finishes him off with a strike to the midsection with his Bardiche while he is still down. Cortés then charges forth on his horse, slashing the soldier in the face with his Espada Ropera as he lifts the heavy Bardiche for a strike. Ivan then spots Cortés and charges at him, sword raised. Ivan slashes Cortés as he rides by, but Cortés is unfazed as the sabre bounces off his steel breastplate. After the charge is finished, Ivan notices that Cortés managed to cut him on his right cheek. Ivan gleefully licks the blood from his finger, then gives a shout as he and Cortés charge each other, both men shouting. As the warriors ride past each other, Cortés ducks under Ivan’s wild swing and thrusts his sword forward, puncturing Ivan’s neck. Ivan slumps down in his saddle as he quickly bleeds out, then falls face down from his horse to the ground. Hernán Cortés then walks up to the fallen Tsar, holding his right breast where the sword struck him and kicks Ivan to make sure that he’s dead. Seeing no movement, Cortés holds his sword up and kneels down, taking his money pouch and finding gold coins, smiling at his spoils. Cortés stands up and raises his sword, shouting “¡Gloria!” (Glory!) in victory.

Winner: Hernán Cortés.

Deadliest Warrior Series

You can find a full index and overview of Deadliest Warrior here.

Production & Filming Details

  • Release Date: 31 August 2011.
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Running Time: 42 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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