Great Perm

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Principality of Great Perm
Ыджыт Перем öксуму
Great Perm and Pelym principalities RU.jpg
CapitalCherdyn, Pokcha
Common languagesKomi
Komi polytheism, Russian Orthodox
Prince of Great Perm 
• first mention
• Annexed by Grand Duchy of Moscow
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Novgorod Republic
Grand Duchy of Moscow
Map of Northern Russia, including Permia; by Gerard Mercator (Amsterdam, 1595).

Great Perm, or simply Perm, in Latin Permia,[1] was a medieval historical region in what is now the Perm Krai of the Russian Federation. Cherdyn is said to have been its capital.[2]

The origin of the name Perm is uncertain. While the city of Perm is a modern foundation named for Permia, the town of Cherdyn was reportedly itself known as "Great Perm" in the past. Cherdyn acted as a central market town, and it is sometimes suggested that perm was simply a term for "merchants" or "market" in a local language,[3] but there have been other suggestions.[4] The same name is likely reflected in the toponym Bjarmaland in Norse sagas.[5] The general region of Great Perm was known as wisu (وِيسُو wīsū) in medieval Arab ethnography, so referred to in the works of Ahmad ibn Fadlan, Al-Gharnati, Zakariya al-Qazwini and Yaqut al-Hamawi (in his Dictionary of Countries). The term is perhaps derived from the name of the Ves' people who settled around Lake Ladoga and the upper Sukhona River.[6]

Principality of Great Perm[edit]

The Principality of Great Perm (Russian: Великопермское княжество, Velikopermskoye knyazhestvo; Komi-Permyak: Ыджыт Перем öксуму, Чердін öксуму) emerged as a separate Komi-Permyak feudal entity in the 14th-15th centuries owing to the easing of the Novgorod Republic. The principality retained a degree of autonomy under the Muscovite rule, but was eventually absorbed into it in 1505.

The principality was located in the Upper Kama area and maintained close connections with nearby Perm of Vychegda (alternatively known as Perm the Minor). Both Perm states had paid tribute to the Novgorod Republic since the 9th or 10th centuries. Perm of Vychegda was Christianised by Stephen of Perm in the fourteenth century and subsequently subdued by Muscovy. In 1451 a House of Princes of Perm gained control of both territories as vassals of Moscow, with the titles of princes Vymsky, and princes Velikopermsky. In fact even though having been Christianised soon after Perm of Vychegda, Great Perm enjoyed greater independence, positioned between three powers: Moscow, the Novgorod, and Kazan. Finally in 1472 an army of vassals of Moscow with the princes Vymsky among them conquered Great Perm and captured their brother Prince Mikhail Velikopermsky. Nevertheless, the latter soon came back again from Moscow as governor and ruled his domain for life. His son Matthew Velikopermsky was finally deposed by the Grand Prince of Moscow in 1505.[7]

Up to the early 18th century, the name Great Perm was officially used of the Upper Kama area, a southern part of which was governed by the Stroganov family.

The name was borrowed (as the 'Permian' period) by the nineteenth century geologist Sir Roderick Murchison to refer to rocks of a certain age, following extensive studies which he conducted in the region.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Introduction to Latin epigraphy (Введение в латинскую эпиграфику).
  2. ^ Article on Cherdyn at
  3. ^ Ferdinand Heinrich Müller, Der ugrische Volksstamm, oder Untersuchungen über die Ländergebiete am Ural und am Kaukasus, in historischer, geographischer und ethnographischer Beziehung (1839), 334.
  4. ^ E.g. Allan S. C. Ross, "OWN Bjarmar : Russian Perm", Leeds Studies in English and Kindred Languages 6 (1937), 5-13. Ross (1937) suggests that the name is from an Old Norse term for "edge, shore", the bjarmar being the "people from the edge", a name which would then have been taken over by the population and changed to permi.
  5. ^ Reallexikon der germanischen Altertumskunde, vol. 33, p. 425.
  6. ^ Janet Martin, 'Treasure from the Land of Darkness:The Fur Trade and its significance for Medieval Russia',1986,page 7
  7. ^ Article on Great Perm at Archived 2006-09-29 at the Wayback Machine.

Further reading[edit]

  • V. Oborin. The Settlement and Developing of Ural in Late Eleventh – Early Seventeenth Centuries. University of Irkutsk, 1990.

External links[edit]