Ermac Timofeyevich (Russian: Ерма́к Тимофе́евич; ; born between 1532 and 1542 – August 5 or 6, 1584) was a Cossack who led the Russian conquest of Siberia in the reign of Ivan the Terrible.
Russia’s fur interests fueled their desire to expand east into Siberia. The tsar’s ultimate goal was to extend all the way to the Bering Strait. The Tatar khanate of Kazan was established as the best entryway into Siberia. In 1552, Ivan the Terrible’s modernized army toppled the khanate. After the takeover of Kazan, the tsar looked to the powerful and affluent Stroganov merchant family to spearhead the eastward expansion. In the late 1570s, the Stroganovs recruited Cossack fighters to invade Asia on behalf of the tsar. They elected Ermac as the leader of their armed forces and, in 1582, Ermac set out with an army of 840 to “conquer” Siberia.
On October 26, 1582, Ermac and his soldiers overthrew Kuchum Khan's Tatar empire at Qashliq in a battle that marked the "conquest of Siberia." Ermac remained in Siberia and continued his struggle against the Tatars until 1584, when he and his party were ambushed and killed in a raid organized by Kuchum Khan.
The specifics of Ermac's life, such as his appearance, background, and dates of events, are points of controversy for historians because the texts that document his life are not reliable. However, his life and conquests had a profound influence on Siberian relations, sparking Russian interest in the region and establishing Russia as an aggressive imperial power in the east.