The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



Born in the first decade of the 16th century; died circa 1550. Russian writer, publicist, and churchman.

An archpriest of the palace cathedral in Moscow, Ermolai-Erazm was also part of the circle of educated scribes grouped around the metropolitan Makarii. Sharing the views of Joseph of Volokamsk about the need for a strong and militant church, he spoke out against heresies. His writings also expressed hostility toward the boyar aristocracy, criticizing its greed and avarice. In 1549, he wrote his most important work for the young tsar Ivan IV Vasil’evich. The tract, known as “A Guide for the Government of State and the Measurement of Land, for the Well-wishing Tsar,” presented a Utopian scheme for the reordering of society, consisting largely of a series of land reforms. He proposed the levying of a single tax on the peasantry, amounting to one-fifth of all that they produced. He also recommended the resettlement of the gentry among the various Russian cities to provide for the fastest possible mobilization of forces at times of emergency.

Ermolai-Erazm believed that the feudal nobility should become the servants of the state, with the size of their land holdings dependent on the type of service they rendered. He also warned of the need to forestall a popular uprising with a series of laws designed to better the position of the common people. During the last years of his life, the archpriest turned away from social and political problems and concentrated his attention on theology.


Klibanov, A. I. Reformatsionnye dvizheniia v Rossii v XIV-1-i pol. XVI vv. Moscow, 1960.
Zimin, A. A. I. 5. Peresvetov i ego sovremenniki. Moscow, 1958.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.