Bashkin, Matvei Semenovich
Russian humanist thinker of the middle 16th century; a representative of the reformation movement.
Bashkin was descended from impoverished gentry. He condemned bondage in all its forms, arguing that bondage is contrary to the evangelical teaching of the equality of man. Bashkin freed his own bondsmen. His views reflected the country’s economic need to abolish the unproductive labor of bondsmen. He presented his criticism of serfdom in the religious form of “evangelical love” of one’s neighbor. Bashkin’s unorthodox ideas and his pronouncements against feudal exploitation and the official church, which sanctified this exploitation, were popular among advanced people of the 16th century. In 1553 he became a victim of denunciation and was arrested and tortured. He was convicted of heresy by the church council in 1553 and was incarcerated in the Volokolamsk Monastery. Bashkin’s further fate is unknown. There are conjectures that he was burned during the period of the oprichnina (governmental measures taken by Tsar Ivan IV).