Selected Council

Selected Council


(Izbrannaia Rada), the circle of persons close to Tsar Ivan IV Vasil’evich the Terrible, the de facto but unofficial government in the late 1540’s and 1550’s. Among its leaders were A.F. Adashev, a dumnyi dvorianin (the third rank of Duma membership), the court priest Sil’vestr, Metropolitan Makarii, the dumnyi d’iak (the lowest rank of Duma membership) I.M. Viskovatyi, and Prince A.M. Kurbskii. The council considered plans for state reforms and questions of foreign policy and directed the implementation of its decisions. The appointment of military commanders and the heads of the central and regional administration was in its hands, and it had final jurisdiction in many judicial cases and questions of mestnichestvo (official order of precedence). The Chelobitnyi Prikaz (Department for the Reception of Petitions), headed by Adashev, came to have an especially important role, directing the activities of the other administrative institutions.

In general, the council pursued a policy of compromise, extending the rights and privileges of the boyars to the dvorianstvo (nobility or gentry) as a whole. Such a policy, despite its inconsistencies, naturally found its firmest support among the dvorianstvo. The period of the group’s predominance was one of major reforms in central and local administration and justice. These included the formation of central administrative departments, the prikazy, the abolition of ’ kormlenie, which was the system of natural and money taxes levied on the population for the support of the local administration; and the promulgation of the Law Code of 1550. Also important were such military reforms as the creation of an army of streltsy (semiprofessional musketeers), the limitation of mestnichestvo in the army, and the publication of the statute on military service.

The foreign policy of the Selected Council was directed first toward the east, concentrating on the annexation of the khanates of Kazan and Astrakhan; later, it turned toward the struggle for the Baltic littoral. The original choice of an eastern orientation was supported by the ideologists of the dvorianstvo (I. S. Peres-vetov), the boyars (Kurbskii), and the clergy who supported the views of Joseph of Volokalam (Makarii). Some of the group’s members later supported the boyar opposition to the prolongation of the Livonian War of 1558–83. Subsequent major changes in the foreign, as well as internal, policy of Ivan IV Vasil’evich led to the downfall of the council in 1560.


Zimin, A.A. Reformy Ivana Groznogo. Moscow, 1960.
Shmidt, S.O. “Pravitel’stvennaia deiatel’nost’ A.F. Adasheva.” Uchenyezapiski MGU, 1954, issue 167.
Smirnov, 1.1. Ocherkipoliticheskoi istorii Russkogo gosudarstva 30–50gg.XVI v. Moscow-Leningrad, 1958.
Nosov, N.E. Stanovleniesoslovno-predstavitel’nykh uchrezhdenii v Rossii:Izyskaniia o zemskoi reforme Ivana Groznogo. Leningrad, 1969.


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