Front Page Titles (by Subject) A BRIEF HISTORY OF MOSCOVIA, AND OF OTHER LESS KNOWN COUNTRIES LYING EASTWARD OF RUSSIA AS FAR AS CATHAY. - The Prose Works of John Milton, vol. 2
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A BRIEF HISTORY OF MOSCOVIA, AND OF OTHER LESS KNOWN COUNTRIES LYING EASTWARD OF RUSSIA AS FAR AS CATHAY. - John Milton, The Prose Works of John Milton, vol. 2 
The Prose Works of John Milton, With a Biographical Introduction by Rufus Wilmot Griswold. In Two Volumes (Philadelphia: John W. Moore, 1847). Vol. 2.
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A BRIEF HISTORY OF MOSCOVIA,
GATHERED FROM THE WRITINGS OF SEVERAL EYE-WITNESSES.
[first published 1682.]
The study of geography is both profitable and delightful: but the writers thereof, though some of them exact enough in setting down longitudes and latitudes, yet in those other relations of manners, religion, government, and such like, accounted geographical, have for the most part missed their proportions. Some too brief and deficient satisfy not; others too voluminous and impertinent cloy and weary out the reader, while they tell long stories of absurd superstitions, ceremonies, quaint habits, and other petty circumstances little to the purpose. Whereby that which is useful, and only worth observation, in such a wood of words, is either overslipped, or soon forgotten; which perhaps brought into the mind of some men more learned and judicious, who had not the leisure or purpose to write an entire geography, yet at least to assay something in the description of one or two countries, which might be as a pattern or example to render others more cautious hereafter, who intended the whole work. And this perhaps induced Paulus Jovius to describe only Moscovy and Britain. Some such thoughts, many years since, led me at a vacant time to attempt the like argument, and I began with Moscovy, as being the most northern region of Europe reputed civil; and the more northern parts thereof first discovered by English voyagers. Wherein I saw I had by much the advantage of Jovius. What was scattered in many volumes, and observed at several times by eye-witnesses, with no cursory pains I laid together, to save the reader a far longer travail of wandering through so many desert authors; who yet with some delight drew me after them, from the eastern bounds of Russia, to the walls of Cathay, in several late journies made thither over land by Russians, who describe the countries in their way far otherwise than our common geographers. From proceeding further, other occasions diverted me. This Essay, such as it is, was thought by some, who knew of it, not amiss to be published; that so many things remarkable, dispersed before, now brought under one view, might not hazard to be otherwise lost, nor the labour lost of collecting them.
MOSCOVIA: OR, RELATIONS OF MOSCOVIA,
A brief description.
The empire of Moscovia, or as others call it Russia, is bounded on the north with Lapland and the ocean; southward by the Crim Tartar; on the west by Lithuania, Livonia, and Poland; on the east by the river Ob, or Oby, and the Nagayan Tartars on the Volga as fas as Astracan.
The north parts of this country are so barren, that the inhabitants fetch their corn a thousand miles;* and so cold in winter, that the very sap of their woodfuel burning on the fire, freezes at the brand’s end, where it drops. The mariners, which were left on shipboard in the first English voyage thither, in going up only from the cabins to the hatches,† had their breath so congealed by the cold, that they fell down as it were stifled. The bay of St. Nicholas, where they first put in,‡ lieth in sixty-four degrees; called so from the abbey there built of wood, wherein are twenty monks, unlearned, as then they found them, and great drunkards: their church is fair, full of images and tapers. There are besides but six houses, whereof one built by the English. In the bay over against the abbey is Rose Island,§ full of damask and red roses, violets, and wild rosemary; the isle is in circuit seven or eight miles; about the midst of May, the snow there is cleared, having two months been melting; then the ground in fourteen days is dry, and grass knee-deep within a month; after September frost returns, and snow a yard high: it hath a house built by the English near to a fresh fair spring. North-east of the abbey, on the other side of Duina, is the castle of Archangel, where the English have another house. The river Duina, beginning about seven hundred miles within the country, having first received Pinega, falls here into the sea, very large and swift, but shallow. It runneth pleasantly between hills on either side; beset like a wilderness with high fir and other trees. Their boats of timber, without any iron in them, are either to sail, or to be drawn up with ropes against the stream.
North-east beyond Archangel standeth Lampas,∥ where twice a year is kept a great fair of Russes, Tartars, and Samoëds; and to the landward Mezen, and Slobotca, two towns of traffic between the river Pechora, or Petzora, and Duina: to seaward lies the cape of Candinos, and the island of Colgoieve, about thirty leagues from the bar of Pechory in sixty-nine degrees.*
The river Pechora or Petzora, holding his course through Siberia, how far the Russians thereabouts know not, runneth into the sea at seventy-two mouths, full of ice; abounding with swans, ducks, geese, and partridge, which they take in July, sell the feathers, and salt the bodies for winter provision. On this river spreading to a lake, stands the town of Pustozera in sixty-eight degrees,† having some eighty or a hundred houses, where certain merchants of Hull wintered in the year sixteen hundred and eleven. The town Pechora, small and poor, hath three churches. They traded there up the river four days’ journey to Oustzilma a small town of sixty houses. The Russians that have travelled say, that this river springs out of the mountains of Jougoria, and runs through Permia. Not far from the mouth thereof are the straits of Vaigats, of which hereafter: more eastward is the point of Naramzy, the next to that the river Ob;‡ beyond which the Moscovites have extended lately their dominion. Touching the Riphæan mountains, whence Tanais was anciently thought to spring, our men could hear nothing; but rather that the whole country is champaign, and in the northermost part huge and desert woods of fir, abounding with black wolves, bears, buffs, and another beast called rossomakka, whose female bringeth forth by passing through some narrow place, as between two stakes, and so presseth her womb to a disburdening.
Travelling southward they found the country more pleasant, fair, and better inhabited, corn, pasture, meadows, and huge woods. Arkania (if it be not the same with Archangel) is a place of English trade, from whence a day’s journey distant, but from St. Nicholas a hundred versts,§ Colmogro stands on the Duina; a great town not walled, but scattered. The English have here lands of their own, given them by the emperor, and fair houses: not far beyond, Pinega, running between rocks of alabaster and great woods, meets with Duina. From Colmogro to Usting are five hundred versts or little miles, an ancient city upon the confluence of Juga and Sucana into Duina,∥ which there first receives his name. Thence continuing by water to Wologda, a great city so named of the river which passes through the midst; it hath a castle walled about with brick and stone, and many wooden churches, two for every parish, the one in winter to be heated, the other used in summer; this is a town of much traffic, a thousand miles from St. Nicholas. All this way by water no lodging is to be had but under open sky by the river side, and other provision only what they bring with them. From Wologda by sled they go to Yeraslave on the Volga, whose breadth is there at least a mile over, and thence runs two thousand seven hundred versts to the Caspian sea,¶ having his head spring out of Bealozera, which is a lake, amidst whereof is built a strong tower, wherein the kings of Moscovy reserve their treasure in time of war. From this town to Rostove, then to Pereslave, a great town situate on a fair lake, thence to Mosco.
Between Yeraslave and Mosco, which is two hundred miles, the country is so fertile, so populous and full of villages, that in a forenoon seven or eight hundred sleds are usually seen coming with salt-fish, or laden back with corn.**
Mosco the chief city, lying in fifty-five degrees, distant from St. Nicholas fifteen hundred miles, is reputed to be greater than London with the suburbs, but rudely built;* their houses and churches most of timber, few of stone, their streets unpaved; it hath a fair castle four-square, upon a hill, two miles about, with brick walls very high, and some say eighteen foot thick, sixteen gates, and as many bulwarks; in the castle are kept the chief markets, and in winter on the river, being then firm ice. This river Moscua on the south-west side encloses the castle, wherein are nine fair churches with round gilded towers, and the emperor’s palace; which neither within nor without is equal for state to the king’s houses in England, but rather like our buildings of old fashion with small windows, some of glass, some with lattices, or iron bars.
They who travel from Mosco to the Caspian, go by water down the Moscua to the river Occa;† then by certain castles to Rezan, a famous city now ruinate; the tenth day to Nysnovogrod, where Occa falls into Volga, which the Tartars call Edel. From thence the eleventh day to Cazan a Tartar city of great wealth heretofore, now under the Russian; walled at first with timber and earth, but since by the emperor Vasiliwich with free stone. From Cazan, to the river Cama, falling into Volga from the province of Permia, the people dwelling on the left side are Gentiles, and live in woods without houses:‡ beyond them to Astracan, Tartars of Mangat, and Nagay: on the right side those of Crimme. From Mosco to Astracan is about six hundred leagues. The town is situate in an island on a hill-side walled with earth, but the castle with earth and timber; the houses, except that of the governor, and some few others, poor and simple; the ground utterly barren, and without wood: they live there on fish, and sturgeon especially; which hanging up to dry in the streets and houses brings whole swarms of flies, and infection to the air, and oft great pestilence. This island in length twelve leagues, three in breadth, is the Russian limit toward the Caspian, which he keeps with a strong garrison, being twenty leagues from that sea, into which Volga falls at seventy mouths. From St. Nicholas, or from Mosco to the Caspian, they pass in forty-six days and nights, most part by water.
Westward from St. Nicholas twelve hundred miles is the city.§ Novogrod fifty-eight degrees, the greatest mart town of all this dominion, and in bigness not inferior to Mosco. The way thither is through the western bottom of St. Nicholas bay, and so along the shore full of dangerous rocks to the monastery of Solofky, wherein are at least two hundred monks; the people thereabout in a manner savages, yet tenants to those monks. Thence to the dangerous river Owiga, wherein are waterfalls as steep as from a mountain, and by the violence of their descent kept from freezing: so that the boats are to be carried there a mile over land; which the tenants of that abbey did by command, and were guides to the merchants without taking any reward. Thence to the town Povensa, standing within a mile of the famous lake Onega three hundred and twenty miles long, and in some places seventy, at narrowest twenty-five broad, and of great depth. Thence by some monasteries to the river Swire; then into the lake Ladiscay much longer than Onega; after which into the river Volhusky, which through the midst of Novogrod runs into this lake, and this lake into the Baltic sound by Narva and Revel. Their other cities toward the western bound are Plesco, Smolensko, or Vobsco.
The emperor exerciseth absolute power; if any man die without male issue, his land returns to the emperor.∥ Any rich man, who through age or other impotency is unable to serve the public, being informed of, is turned out of his estate, and forced with his family to live on a small pension, while some other more deserving is by the duke’s authority put into possession. The manner of informing the duke is thus: Your grace, saith one, hath such a subject, abounding with riches, but for the service of the state unmeet; and you have others poor and in want, but well able to do their country good service. Immediately the duke sends forth to inquire, and calling the rich man before him, Friend, saith he, you have too much living, and are unserviceable to your prince; less will serve you, and the rest maintain others who deserve more. The man thus called to impart his wealth, repines not, but humbly answers, that all he hath is God’s and the duke’s, as if he made restitution of what more justly was another’s, than parted with his own. Every gentleman hath rule and justice over his own tenants: if the tenants of two gentlemen agree not, they seek to compose it; if they cannot, each brings his tenant before the high judge of that country. They have no lawyers, but every man pleads his own cause, or else by bill or answer in writing delivers it with his own hands to the duke: yet justice, by corruption of inferior officers, is much perverted. Where other proof is wanted, they may try the matter by personal combat, or by champion. If a debtor be poor, he becomes bondman to the duke, who lets out his labour till it pay the debt; till then he remains in bondage. Another trial they have by lots.*
The revenues of the emperor are what he list, and what his subjects are able; and he omits not the coarsest means to raise them: for in every good town there is a drunken tavern, called a Cursemay, which the emperor either lets out to farm, or bestows on some duke, or gentleman,† in reward of his service, who for that time is lord of the whole town, robbing and spoiling at his pleasure, till being well enriched, he is sent at his own charge to the wars, and there squeezed of his ill-got wealth; by which means the waging of war is to the emperor little or nothing chargeable.
The Russian armeth not less in time of war than three hundred thousand men,‡ half of whom he takes with him into the field, the rest bestows in garrisons on the borders. He presseth no husbandman or merchant, but the youth of the realm. He useth no foot, but such as are pioneers, or gunners, of both which sort thirty thousand. The rest being horsemen, are all archers, and ride with a short stirrup, after the Turkish. Their armour is a coat of plate, and a skull on their heads. Some of their coats are covered with velvet, or cloth of gold; for they desire to be gorgeous in arms, but the duke himself above measure; his pavilion covered with cloth of gold or silver, set with precious stones. They use little drums at the saddle-bow, instead of spurs, for at the sound thereof the horses run more swiftly.
They fight without order;§ nor willingly give battle, but by stealth or ambush. Of cold and hard diet marvellously patient; for when the ground is covered with snow frozen a yard thick, the common soldier will lie in the field two months together without tent, or covering over head; only hangs up his mantle against that part from whence the weather drives, and kindling a little fire, lies him down before it, with his back under the wind: his drink, the cold stream mingled with oatmeal, and the same all his food: his horse, fed with green wood and bark, stands all this while in the open field, yet does his service. The emperor gives no pay at all, but to strangers; yet repays good deserts in war with certain lands during life; and they who oftenest are sent to the wars, think themselves most favoured,* though serving without wages. On the twelfth of December yearly, the emperor rides into the field, which is without the city, with all his nobility, on jennets and Turkey horses in great state; before him five thousand harquebusiers, who shoot at a bank of ice, till they beat it down; the ordnance, which they have very fair of all sorts, they plant against two wooden houses filled with earth at least thirty foot thick, and beginning with the smallest, shoot them all off thrice over, having beat those two houses flat. Above the rest six great cannon they have, whose bullet is a yard high, so that a man may see it flying: then out of mortar-pieces they shoot wildfire into the air. Thus the emperor having seen what his gunners can do, returns home in the same order.
They follow the Greek church, but with excess of superstitions:† their service is in the Russian tongue. They hold the ten commandments not to concern them, saying, that God gave them under the law, which Christ by his death on the cross hath abrogated: the eucharist they receive in both kinds. They observe four lents, have service in their churches daily, from two hours before dawn till evening;‡ yet for whoredom, drunkenness, and extortion none worse than the clergy.
They have many great and rich monasteries,§ where they keep great hospitality. That of Trojetes hath in it seven hundred friars, and is walled about with brick very strongly, having many pieces of brass ordnance on the walls; most of the lands, towns, and villages within forty miles belong to those monks, who are also as great merchants as any in the land. During Easter holydays when two friends meet, they take each other by the hand; one of them saying, The Lord is risen; the other answering,∥ It is so of a truth; and then they kiss, whether men or women. The emperor esteemeth the metropolitan next to God, after our lady, and St. Nicholas, as being his spiritual officer, himself but his temporal. But the Muscovites¶ that border on Tartaria are yet pagans.
When there is love between two,** the man, among other trifling gifts, sends to the woman a whip, to signify, if she offend, what she must expect; and it is a rule among them, that if the wife be not beaten once a week, she thinks herself not beloved, and is the worse; yet they are very obedient, and stir not forth, but at some seasons. Upon utter dislike, the husband divorces; which liberty no doubt they received first with their religion from the Greek church,†† and the imperial laws.
Their dead they bury with new shoes on their feet,‡‡ as to a long journey; and put letters testimonial in their hands to St. Nicholas, or St. Peter, that this was a Russe or Russes, and died in the true faith; which, as they believe, St. Peter having read, forthwith admits him into heaven.
They have no learning,§§ nor will suffer to be among them; their greatest friendship is drinking; they are great talkers, liars, flatterers, and dissemblers. They delight in gross meats and noisome fish; their drink is better, being sundry sorts of meath; the best made with juice of a sweet and crimson berry called Maliena, growing also in France;∥∥ other sorts with blackcherry, or divers other berries; another drink they use in the spring, drawn from the birch-tree root, whose sap after June dries up. But there are no people that live so miserably as the poor of Russia; if they have straw and water, they make shift to live; for straw dried and stamped in winter time is their bread; in summer grass and roots; at all times bark of trees is good meat with them; yet many of them die in the street for hunger, none relieving or regarding them.
When they are sent into foreign countries,* or that strangers come thither, they are very sumptuous in apparel, else the duke himself goes but meanly.
In winter they travel only upon sleds,† the ways being hard, and smooth with snow, the rivers all frozen: one horse with a sled will draw a man four hundred miles in three days; in summer the way is deep and travelling ill. The Russe of better sort goes not out in winter, but on his sled; in summer on his horse: in his sled he sits on a carpet, or a white bear’s skin; the sled drawn with a horse well decked, with many fox or wolf tails about his neck, guided by a boy on his back, other servants riding on the tail of the sled.
The Russian sea breeds a certain beast which they call a morse;‡ who seeks his food on the rocks, climbing up with help of his teeth; whereof they make as great account as we of the elephant’s tooth.
Of Samoëdia, Siberia, and other countries north-east, subject to the Muscovites.
North-east of Russia lieth Samoëdia by the river Ob. This country was first discovered by Oneke a Russian; who first trading privately among them in rich furs, got great wealth, and the knowledge of their country; then revealed his discovery to Boris protector to Pheodor, showing how beneficial that country gained would be to the empire. Who sending embassadors among them gallantly attired, by fair means won their subjection to the empire, every head paying yearly two skins of richest sables. Those messengers traelling also two hundred leagues beyond Ob eastward, made report of pleasant countries, abounding with woods and fountains, and people riding on elks and loshes; others drawn on sleds by rein-deer; others by dogs as swift as deer. The Samoëds that came along with those messengers, returning to Mosco, admired the stateliness of that city, and were as much admired for excellent shooters, hitting every time the breadth of a penny as far distant as hardly could be discerned.
The river Ob is reported§ by the Russes to be in breadth the sailing of a summer’s day; but full of islands and shoals, having neither woods, nor, till of late, inhabitants. Out of Ob they turn into the river Tawze. The Russians have here, since the Samoëds yielded them subjection, two governors, with three or four hundred gunners; have built villages and some small castles; all which place they call Mongozey or Molgomsay.∥ Further upland they have also built other cities of wood, consisting chiefly of Poles, Tartars, and Russes, fugitive or condemned men; as Vergateria, Siber, whence the whole country is named, Tinna, thence Tobolsca on this side Ob, on the rivers Irtis, and Tobol, chief seat of the Russian governor; above that, Zergolta in an island of Ob, where they have a custom-house. Beyond that on the other side Ob, Narim, and Tooina, now a great city.¶ Certain churches also are erected in those parts; but no man forced to religion; beyond Narim eastward on the river Telta is built the castle of Comgoscoi, and all this plantation began since the year 1590, with many other towns like these. And these are the countries from whence come all the sables and rich furs.
The Samoëds have no towns or certain places of abode, but up and down where they find moss for their deer;* they live in companies peaceably, and are governed by some of the ancientest amongst them, but are idolaters. They shoot wondrous cunningly; their arrow-heads are sharpened stones, or fish bones, which latter serve them also for needles; their thread being the sinews of certain small beasts, wherewith they sew the furs which clothe them; the furry side in summer outward, in winter inward. They have many wives, and their daughters they sell to him who bids most; which, if they be not liked, are turned back to their friends, the husband allowing only to the father what the marriage feast stood him in. Wives are brought to bed there by their husbands, and the next day go about as before. They till not the ground; but live on the flesh of those wild beasts which they hunt. They are the only guides to such as travel Jougoria, Siberia, or any of those north-east parts in winter;† being drawn on sleds with bucks riding post day and night, if it be moonlight, and lodge on the snow under tents of deer-skins, in whatever place they find enough of white moss to feed their sled-stags, turning them loose to dig it up themselves out of the deep snow: another Samoëd stepping to the next wood, brings in store of firing: round about which they lodge within their tents, leaving the top open to vent smoke; in which manner they are as warm as the stoves in Russia. They carry provision of meat with them, and partake besides of what fowl or venison the Samoëd kills with shooting by the way; their drink is melted snow. Two deer being yoked to a sled, riding post, will draw two hundred miles in twenty-four hours without resting, and laden with their stuff, will draw it thirty miles in twelve.
Of Tingoësia, and the countries adjoining eastward, as far as Cathay.
Beyond Narim and Comgoscoi‡ the soldiers of those garrisons, travelling by appointment of the Russian governor in the year 1605, found many goodly countries not inhabited, many vast deserts and rivers; till at the end of ten weeks they spied certain cottages and herds, or companies of people, which came to them with reverent behaviour, and signified to the Samoëds and Tartars, which were guides to the Russian soldiers, that they were called Tingoësi; that their dwelling was on the great river Jenissey. This river is said to be far bigger than Ob,§ distant from the mouth thereof four days and nights’ sailing; and likewise falls into the sea of Naramzie: it hath high mountains on the east, some of which cast out fire, to the west a plain and fertile country, which in the spring-time it overflows about seventy leagues; all that time the inhabitants keep them in the mountains, and then return with their cattle to the plain. The Tingoësi are a very gentle nation, they have great swoln throats,∥ like those in Italy, that live under the Alps; at persuasion of the Samoëds they forthwith submitted to the Russian government: and at their request travelling the next year to discover still eastward, they came at length to a river, which the savages of that place call Pisida,* somewhat less than Jenissey; beyond which hearing ofttimes the tolling of brazen bells, and sometimes the noise of men and horses, they durst not pass over; they saw there certain sails afar off, square, and therefore supposed to be like Indian or China sails, and the rather for that they report that great guns have been heard shot off from those vessels. In April and May they were much delighted with the fair prospect of that country, replenished with many rare trees, plants, and flowers, beasts and fowl. Some think here to be the borders of Tangut in the north of Cathay.† Some of those Samoëds, about the year 1610, travelled so far till they came in view of a white city, and heard a great din of bells, and report there came to them men all armed in iron from head to foot. And in the year 1611, divers out of Cathay, and others from Alteen Czar, who styles himself the golden king, came and traded at Zergolta, or Surgoot, on the river Ob, bringing with them plates of silver. Whereupon Michael Pheodorowich the Russian emperor, in the year 1619, sent certain of his people from Tooma to Alteen, and Cathay, who returned with embassadors from those princes. These relate,‡ that from Tooma in ten days and a half, three days whereof over a lake, where rubies and sapphires grow, they came to the Alteen king, or king of Alty; through his land in five weeks they passed into the country of Sheromugaly, or Mugalla, where reigned a queen called Manchica; whence in four days they came to the borders of Cathay, fenced with a stone wall, fifteen fathom high; along the side of which, having on the other hand many pretty towns belonging to Queen Manchica, they travelled ten days without seeing any on the wall, till they came to the gate; where they saw very great ordnance lying, and three thousand men in watch. They traffic with other nations at the gate, and very few at once are suffered to enter. They were travelling from Tooma to this gate twelve weeks; and from thence to the great city of Cathay ten days. Where being conducted to the house of embassadors, within a few days there came a secretary from King Tambur, with two hundred men well apparelled, and riding on asses, to feast them with divers sorts of wine, and to demand their message; but having brought no presents with them, they could not be admitted to his sight; only with his letter to the emperor they returned, as is aforesaid, to Tobolsca. They report, that the land of Mugalla reaches from Boghar to the north sea,§ and hath many castles built of stone, foursquare, with towers at the corners covered with glazed tiles; and on the gates alarm-bells, or watch-bells, twenty pound weight of metal; their houses built also of stone, the ceilings cunningly painted with flowers of all colours. The people are idolaters; the country exceeding fruitful. They have asses and mules, but no horses. The people of Cathay say, that this great wall stretches from Boghar to the north sea, four months’ journey, with continual towers a slight shot distant from each other, and beacons on every tower; and that this wall is the bound between Mugalla and Cathay. In which are but five gates; those narrow and so low, that a horseman sitting upright cannot ride in. Next to the wall is the city Shirokalga; it hath a castle well furnished with short ordance and small shot, which they who keep watch on the gates, towers, and walls, duly at sun-set and rising discharge thrice over. The city abounds with rich merchandise, velvets, damasks, cloth of gold, and tissue, with many sorts of sugars. Like to this is the city Yara, their markets smell odoriferously with spices, and Tayth more rich than that. Shirooan yet more magnificent, half a day’s journey through, and exceeding populous. From hence to Cathaia the imperial city is two days’ journey, built of white stone, four-square, in circuit four days’ going, cornered with four white towers, very high and great, and others very fair along the wall, white intermingled with blue, and loop-holes furnished with ordnance. In the midst of this white city stands a castle built of magnet, where the king dwells, in a sumptuous palace, the top whereof is overlaid with gold. The city stands on even ground encompassed with the river Youga, seven days’ journey from the sea. The people are very fair, but not warlike, delighting most in rich traffic. These relations are referred hither, because we have them from Russians; who report also, that there is a sea beyond Ob,* so warm, that all kind of seafowl live thereabout as well in winter as in summer. Thus much briefly of the sea and lands between Russia and Cathay.
The succession of Moscovia dukes and emperors, taken out of their chroniles by a Polac, with some later additions.†
The great dukes of Moscovy derive their pedigree, though without ground, from Augustus Cæsar: whom they fable to have sent certain of his kingdom to be governors over many remote provinces; and among them, Prussus over Prussia; him to have had his seat on the eastern Baltic shore by the river Wixel; of whom Rurek, Sinaus, and Truuor descended by the fourth generation, were by the Russians, living then without civil government, sent for in the year 573, to bear rule over them, at the persuasion of Gostomislius chief citizen of Novogrod. They therefore, taking with them Olechus their kinsman, divided those countries among themselves, and each in his province taught them civil government.
Ivor, son of Rurek, the rest dying without issue, became successor to them all; being left in nonage under the protection of Olechus. He took to wife Olha daughter to a citizen of Plesco, of whom he begat Stoslaus; but after that being slain by his enemies, Olha his wife went to Constantinople, and was there baptized Helena.
Stoslaus fought many battles with his enemies; but was at length by them slain, who made a cup of his scull, engraven with this sentence in gold; “Seeking after other men’s, he lost his own.” His sons were Teropulchus, Olega, and Volodimir.
Volodimir, having slain the other two, made himself sole lord of Russia; yet after that fact inclining to Christian religion, had to wife Anna sister of Basilius and Constantine Greek emperors; and with all his people, in the year 988, was baptized, and called Basilius. Howbeit Zonaras reporteth, that before that time Basilius the Greek emperor sent a bishop to them; at whose preaching they not being moved, but requiring a miracle, he after devout prayers, taking the book of gospel into his hands, threw it before them all into the fire; which remaining there unconsumed, they were converted.
Volodimir had eleven sons, among whom he divided his kingdom; Boristus and Glebus for their holy life registered saints; and their feast kept every year in November with great solemnity. The rest, through contention to have the sole government, ruined each other; leaving only Jaroslaus inheritor of all.
Volodimir, son of Jaroslaus, kept his residence in the ancient city Kiow upon the river Boristhenes. And after many conflicts with the sons of his uncles and having subdued all, was called Monomachus. He made war with Constantine the Greek emperor, wasted Thracia, and returning home with great spoils to prepare new war, was appeased by Constantine; who sent Neophytus bishop of Ephesus, and Eustathius abbot of Jerusalem, to present him with part of our Saviour’s cross, and other rich gifts, and to salute him by the name of Czar, or Cæsar: with whom he thenceforth entered into league and amity.
After him in order of descent Vuszevolodus, George, Demetrius.
Then George his son, who in the year 1237 was slain in battle by the Tartar prince Bathy, who subdued Muscovia, and made it tributary. From that time the Tartarians made such dukes of Russia, as they thought would be most pliable to their ends; of whom they required, as oft as embassadors came to him out of Tartary, to go out and meet them; and in his own court to stand bareheaded, while they sate and delivered their message. At which time the Tartars wasted also Polonia, Selesia, and Hungaria, till pope Innocent the Fourth obtained peace of them for five years. This Bathy, say the Russians, was the father of Tamerlane, whom they call Temirkutla.
Then succeeded Jaroslaus, the brother of George, then Alexander his son.
Daniel, the son of Alexander, was he who first made the city of Mosco his royal seat, builded the castle, and took on him the title of great duke.
John, the son of Daniel, was surnamed Kaleta, that word signifying a scrip, out of which, continually carried about with him, he was wont to deal his alms.
His son Simeon, dying without issue, left the kingdom to John his next brother; and he to his son Demetrius, who left two sons, Basilius and George.
Basilius reigning had a son of his own name, but doubting lest not of his own body, through the suspicion he had of his wife’s chastity, him he disinherits, and gives the dukedom to his brother George.
George, putting his nephew Basilius in prison, reigns; yet at his death, either through remorse, or other cause, surrenders him the dukedom.
Basilius, unexpectedly thus attaining his supposed right, enjoyed it not long in quiet; for Andrew and Demetrius, the two sons of George, counting it injury not to succed their father, made war upon him, and surprising him on a sudden, put out his eyes. Notwithstanding which, the boiarens, or nobles, kept their allegiance to the duke, though blind, whom therefore they called Cziemnox.
John Vasiliwich, his son, was the first who brought the Russian name out of obscurity into renown. To secure his own estate, he put to death as many of his kindred, as were likely to pretend; and styled himself great duke of Wolodimiria, Moscovia, Novogardia, Czar of all Russia. He won Plesco, the only walled city in all Muscovy, and Novogrod, the richest, from the Lithuanians, to whom they had been subject fifty years before; and from the latter carried home three hundred wagons laden with treasure. He had war with Alexander king of Poland, and with the Livonians; with him, on pretence of withdrawing his daughter Helena, whom he had to wife, from the Greek church to the Romish; with the Livonians for no other cause, but to enlarge his bounds: though he were often foiled by Plettebergius, great master of the Prussian knights. His wife was daughter to the duke of Tyversky; of her he begat John; and to him resigned his dukedom; giving him to wife the daughter of Stephen, palatine of Moldavia; by whom he had issue Demetrius, and deceased soon after. Vasiliwich, therefore, reassuming the dukedom, married a second wife Sophia, daughter to Thomas Palæologus: who is said to have received her dowry out of the pope’s treasury, upon promise of the duke to become Romish.
This princess, of a haughty mind, often complaining that she was married to the Tartar’s vassal, at length by continual persuasions, and by a wile, found means to ease her husband and his country of that yoke. For whereas till then the Tartar had his procurators, who dwelt in the very castle of Mosco, to oversee state affairs, she feigned that from heaven she had been warned, to build a temple to saint Nicholas on the same place where the Tartar agents had their house. Being therefore delivered of a son, she made it her request to the prince of Tartary, whom she had invited to the baptizing, that he would give her that house, which obtaining, she razed to the ground, and removed those overseers out of the castle; and so by degrees dispossessed them of all which they held in Russia. She prevailed also with her husband, to transfer the dukedom from Demetrius the son of John deceased, to Gabriel his eldest by her.
Gabriel, no sooner duke, but changed his name to Basilius, and set his mind to do nobly; he recovered great part of Moscovy from Vitoldus duke of Lithuania; and on the Boristhenes won Smolensko and many other cities in the year 1514. He divorced his first wife, and of Helena daughter to duke Glinski begat Juan Vasiliwich.
Juan Vasiliwich, being left a child, was committed to George his uncle and protector; at twenty-five years of age he vanquished the Tartars of Cazan and Astracan, bringing home with him their princes captive; made cruel war in Livonia, pretending right of inheritance. He seemed exceedingly devout; and whereas the Russians in their churches use out of zeal and reverence to knock their heads against the ground, his forehead was seldom free of swellings and bruises, and very often seen to bleed. The cause of his rigour in government he alleged to be the malice and treachery of his subjects. But some of the nobles,* incited by his cruelty, called in the Crim Tartar, who in the year 1571 broke into Russia, burnt Mosco to the ground. He reigned fifty-four years, had three sons, of which the eldest, being strook on a time by his father, with great grief thereof died; his other sons were Pheodor and Demetrius. In the time of Juan Vasiliwich the English came first by sea into the north parts of Russia.
Pheodor Juanowich, being under age, was left to the protection of Boris, brother to the young empress, and third son by adoption in the emperor’s will.† After forty days of mourning, the appointed time of coronation being come, the emperor issuing out of his palace,‡ the whole clergy before him, entered with his nobility the church of Blaveshina or blessedness; whence after service to the church of Michael, then to our lady church, being the cathedral. In midst whereof a chair was placed, and most unvaluable garments put upon him; there also was the imperial crown set on his head by the metropolitan, who out of a small book in his hand read exhortations to the emperor of justice and peaceable government. After this, rising from his chair he was invested with an upper robe, so thick with orient pearls and stones, as weighed two hundred pounds, the train born up by six dukes; his staff imperial was of a unicorn’s horn three foot and a half long, beset with rich stones; his globe and six crowns carried before him by princes of the blood; his horse at the church door stood ready with a covering of embroidered pearl, saddle and all suitable, to the value of three hundred thousand marks. There was a kind of bridge made three ways, one hundred and fifty fathom long, three foot high, two fathom broad, whereon the emperor with his train went from one church to another above the infinite throng of people making loud acclamations: at the emperor’s returning from those churches they were spread underfoot with cloth of gold, the porches with red velvet, the bridges with scarlet and stammel cloth, all which, as the emperor passed by, were cut and snatched by them that stood next; besides new minted coins of gold and silver cast among the people. The empress in her palace was placed before a great open window in rich and shining robes, among her ladies. After this the emperor came into parliament, where he had a banquet served by his nobles in princely order; two standing on either side his chair with battleaxes of gold; three of the next rooms great and large, being set round with plate of gold and silver, from the ground up to the roof. This triumph lasted a week, wherein many royal pastimes were seen; after which, election was made of the nobles to new offices and dignities. The conclusion of all was a peal of one hundred and seventy brass ordnance two miles without the city, and twenty thousand harquebuzes twice over; and so the emperor with at least fifty thousand horse returned through the city to his palace, where all the nobility, officers, and merchants brought him rich presents. Shortly after the emperor, by direction of Boris, conquered the large country of Siberia, and took prisoner the king thereof; he removed also corrupt officers and former taxes. In sum, a great alteration in the government followed, yet all quietly and without tumult. These things reported abroad strook such awe into the neighbour kings, that the Crim Tartar, with his wives also, and many nobles valiant and personable men, came to visit the Russian. There came also twelve hundred Polish gentlemen, many Circassians, and people of other nations, to offer service; embassadors from the Turk, the Persian, Georgian, and other Tartar princes; from Almany, Poland, Sweden, Denmark. But this glory lasted not long, through the treachery of Boris, who procured the death first of Demetrius, then of the emperor himself, whereby the imperial race, after the succession of three hundred years was quite extinguished.
Boris adopted, as before was said, third son to Juan Vasiliwich, without impeachment now ascended the throne; but neither did he enjoy long what he had so wickedly compassed, divine revenge rising up against him a counterfeit of that Demetrius, whom he had caused to be murdered at Ouglets.* This upstart, strengthened with many Poles and Cossacks, appears in arms to claim his right out of the hands of Boris, who sent against him an army of two hundred thousand men, many of whom revolted to this Demetrius: Peter Basnam, the general, returning to Mosco with the empty triumph of a reported victory. But the enemy still advancing, Boris one day, after a plentiful meal, finding himself heavy and pained in the stomach, laid him down on his bed; but ere his doctors, who made great haste, came to him, was found speechless, and soon after died with grief, as is supposed, of his ill success against Demetrius. Before his death, though it were speedy, he would be shorn, and new christened. He had but one son, whom he loved so fondly, as not to suffer him out of sight; using to say he was lord and father of his son, and yet his servant, yea, his slave. To gain the people’s love, which he had lost by his ill getting the empire, he used two policies; first he caused Mosco to be fired in four places, that in the quenching thereof he might show his great care and tenderness of the people; among whom he likewise distributed so much of his bounty, as both new built their houses, and repaired their losses. At another time the people murmuring, that the great pestilence, which had then swept away a third part of the nation, was the punishment of their electing him, a murderer, to reign over them, he built galleries round about the utmost wall of Mosco, and there appointed for one whole month twenty thousand pound to be given to the poor, which well nigh stopped their mouths. After the death of Boris, Peter Basman their only hope and refuge, though a young man, was sent again to the wars, with him many English, Scots, French, and Dutch; who all with the other general Goleeche fell off to the new Demetrius, whose messengers, coming now to the suburbs of Mosco, were brought by the multitude to that spacious field before the castle gate, within which the council were then sitting, many of whom were by the people’s threatening called out, and constrained to hear the letters of Demetrius openly read: which, long ere the end wrought so with the multitude, that furiously they broke into the castle, laying violence on all they met; when straight appeared coming towards them two messengers of Demetrius formerly sent, pitifully whipped and roasted, which added to their rage. Then was the whole city in an uproar, all the great counsellors’ houses ransacked, especially of the Godonovas, the kindred and family of Boris. Such of the nobles that were best beloved by entreaty prevailed at length to put an end to this tumult. The empress, flying to a safer place, had her collar of pearl pulled from her neck; and by the next message command was given to secure her, with her son and daughter. Whereupon Demetrius by general consent was proclaimed emperor. The empress, now seeing all lost, counselled the prince her son to follow his father’s example, who, it seems, had dispatched himself by poison; and with a desperate courage beginning the deadly health, was pledged effectually by her son; but the daughter only sipping, escaped. Others ascribe this deed to the secret command of Demetrius, and self-murder imputed to them, to avoid the envy of such a command.
Demetrius Evanowich, for so he called himself, who succeeded,* was credibly reported the son of Gregory Peupoloy a Russe gentleman, and in his younger years to have been shorn a friar, but escaping from the monastery, to have travelled Germany and other countries, but chiefly Poland: where he attained to good sufficiency in arms and other experience; which raised in him such high thoughts, as, grounding on a common belief among the Russians that the young Demetrius was not dead, but conveyed away, and their hatred against Boris, on this foundation, with some other circumstances, to build his hopes no lower than an empire; which on his first discovery found acceptation so generally, as planted him at length on the royal seat: but not so firmly as the fair beginning promised; for in a short while the Russians finding themselves abused by an impostor, on the sixth day after his marriage, observing when his guard of Poles were most secure, rushing into the palace before break of day, dragged him out of his bed, and when he had confessed the fraud, pulled him to pieces; with him Peter Basman was also slain, and both their dead bodies laid open in the market-place. He was of no presence, but otherwise of a princely disposition; too bountiful, which occasioned some exactions; in other matters a great lover of justice, not unworthy the empire which he had gotten, and lost only through greatness of mind, neglecting the conspiracy, which he knew the Russians were plotting. Some say their hatred grew, for that they saw him alienated from the Russian manners and religion, having made Buchinskoy a learned protestant his secretary. Some report from Gilbert’s relation, who was a Scot, a captain of his guard, that lying on his bed awake, not long before the conspiracy, he saw the appearance of an aged man coming toward him, at which he rose, and called to them that watched; but they denied to have seen any such pass by them. He returning to his bed, and within an hour after, troubled again with the same apparition, sent for Buchinskoy, telling him he had now twice the same night seen an aged man, who at his second coming told him, that though he were a good prince of himself, yet for the injustice and oppression of his inferior ministers, his empire should be taken from him. The secretary counselled him to embrace true religion, affirming that for lack thereof his officers were so corrupt. The emperor seemed to be much moved, and to intend what was persuaded him. But a few days after, the other secretary, a Russian, came to him with a drawn sword, of which the emperor made slight at first; but he after bold words assaulted him, straight seconded by other conspirators, crying liberty. Gilbert, with many of the guard, oversuddenly surprised, retreated to Coluga, a town which they fortified; most of the other strangers were massacred, except the English, whose mediation saved also Buchinskoy. Shusky, who succeeded him, reports in a letter to king James otherwise of him; that his right name was Gryshca the son of Boughdan; that to escape punishment for villanies done, he turned friar, and fell at last to the black art; and fearing that the metropolitan intended therefore to imprison him, fled into Lettow; where by counsel of Sigismund the Poland king, he began to call himself Demetry of Onglitts; and by many libels and spies privily sent into Mosco, gave out the same; that many letters and messengers thereupon were sent from Boris into Poland, and from the patriarch, to acquaint him who the runagate was: but the Polanders giving them no credit, furnished him the more with arms and money, notwithstanding the league; and sent the palatine Sandamersko and other lords to accompany him into Russia, gaining also a prince of the Crim Tartars to his aid; that the army of Boris, hearing of his sudden death, yielded to this Gryshca, who, taking to wife a daughter of Sandamersko, attempted to root out the Russian clergy, and to bring in the Romish religion, for which purpose many Jesuits came along with him. Whereupon Shusky with the nobles and metropolitans, conspiring against him, in half a year gathered all the forces of Moscovia, and surprising him, found in writing under his own hand all these his intentions; letters also from the pope and cardinals to the same effect, not only to set up the religion of Rome, but to force it upon all, with death to them that refused.
Vasily Evanowich Shusky,* after the slaughter of Demetry or Gryshca, was elected emperor, having not long before been at the block for reporting to have seen the true Demetrius dead and buried; but Gryshca not only recalled him, but advanced him to be the instrument of his own ruin. He was then about the age of fifty; nobly descended, never married, of great wisdom reputed, a favourer of the English; for he saved them from rifling in the former tumults. Some say† he modestly refused the crown, till by lot four times together it fell to him; yet after that, growing jealous of his title, removed by poison and other means all the nobles, that were like to stand his rivals; and is said to have consulted with witches of the Samoëds, Lappians, and Tartarians, about the same fears; and being warned of one Michalowich, to have put to death three of that name, yet a fourth was reserved by fate to succeed him, being then a youth attendant in the court, one of those that held the golden axes, and least suspected. But before that time he also was supplanted by another reviving Demetrius brought in by the Poles; whose counterfeited hand, and strange relating of privatest circumstances, had almost deceived Gilbert himself, had not their persons been utterly unlike; but Gryshca’s wife so far believed him for her husband, as to receive him to her bed. Shusky, besieged in his castle of Mosco, was adventurously supplied with some powder and ammunition by the English; and with two thousand French, English and Scots, with other forces from Charles king of Sweden. The English,* after many miseries of cold and hunger, and assaults by the way, deserted by the French, yielded most of them to the Pole near Smolensko, and served him against the Russ.† Meanwhile this second Demetrius, being now rejected by the Poles, with those Russians that sided with him, laid siege to Mosco; Zolkiewsky, for Sigismund king of Poland, beleaguers on the other side with forty thousand men; whereof fifteen hundred English, Scotch, and French. Shusky, despairing success, betakes him to a monastery; but with the city is yielded to the Pole; who turns now his force against the counterfeit Demetrius; he seeking to fly is by a Tartar slain in his camp. Smolenkso held out a siege of two years, then surrendered. Shusky the emperor carried away into Poland, there ended miserably in prison. But before his departure out of Muscovy, the Polanders in his name sending for the chief nobility as to a last farewell, cause them to be entertained in a secret place and there dispatched: by this means the easier to subdue the people. Yet the Poles were starved at length out of those places in Mosco, which they had fortified. Wherein the Russians, who besieged them, found, as is reported, sixty barrels of man’s flesh powdered, being the bodies of such as died among them, or were slain in fight.
After which the empire of Russia broke to pieces,‡ the prey of such as could catch, every one naming himself, and striving to be accounted, that Demetrius of Ouglitts. Some chose Uladislaus King Sigismund’s son, but he not accepting, they fell to a popular government; killing all the nobles under pretence of favouring the Poles. Some overtures of receiving them were made, as some say, to King James, and Sir John Meric and Sir William Russell employed therein. Thus Russia remaining in this confusion, it happened that a mean man, a butcher, dwelling in the north about Duina, inveighing against the baseness of their nobility,§ and the corruption of officers, uttered words, that if they would but choose a faithful treasurer to pay well the soldiers, and a good general, (naming one Pozarsky, a poor gentleman, who after good service done, lived not far off retired and neglected,) that then he doubted not to drive out the Poles. The people assent, and choose that general; the butcher they make their treasurer; who both so well discharged their places, that with an army soon gathered they raise the siege of Mosco, which the Polanders had renewed; and with Boris Licin, another great soldier of that country, fall into consultation about the choice of an emperor, and choose at last Michalowich, or Michael Pheodorowich, the fatal youth, whose name Shusky so feared.
Michael Pheodorowich* thus elected by the valour of Pozarsky and Boris Licin, made them both generals of his forces, joining with them another great commander of the Cossacks, whose aid had much befriended him; the butcher also was made a counsellor of state. Finally, a peace was made up between the Russians and the Poles; and that partly by the mediation of King James.
The first discovery of Russia by the north-east, 1553, with the English embassies, and entertainments at that court, until the year 1604.
The discovery of Russia by the northern ocean,† made first, of any nation that we know, by Englishmen, might have seemed an enterprise almost heroic; if any higher end than the excessive love of gain and traffic had animated the design. Nevertheless, that in regard that many things not unprofitable to the knowledge of nature, and other observations, are hereby come to light, as good events ofttimes arise from evil occasions, it will not be the worst labour to relate briefly the beginning and prosecution of this adventurous voyage; until it became at last a familiar passage.
When our merchants perceived the commodities of England to be in small request abroad, and foreign merchandise to grow higher in esteem and value than before, they began to think with themselves how this might be remedied. And seeing how the Spaniards and Portugals had increased their wealth by discovery of new trades and countries, they resolved upon some new and strange navigation. At the same time Sebastian Chabota, a man for the knowledge of sea affairs much renowned in those days, happened to be in London. With him first they consult; and by his advice conclude to furnish out three ships for the search and discovery of the northern parts. And having heard that a certain worm is bred in that ocean, which many times eateth through the strongest oak, they contrive to cover some part of the keel of those ships with thin sheets of lead; and victual them for eighteen months; allowing equally to their journey, their stay, and their return. Arms also they provide, and store of munition, with sufficient captains and governors for so great an enterprise. To which among many, and some void of experience, that offered themselves, Sir Hugh Willoughby, a valiant gentleman, earnestly requested to have the charge. Of whom before all others both for his goodly personage, and singular skill in the services of war, they made choice to be admiral; and of Richard Chancelor, a man greatly esteemed for his skill, to be chief pilot. This man was brought up by Mr. Henry Sidney, afterwards deputy of Ireland, who coming where the adventurers were gathered together, though then a young man, with a grave and elegant speech commended Chancelor unto them.
After this, they omitted no inquiry after any person, that might inform them concerning those north-easterly parts, to which the voyage tended; and two Tartarians then of the king’s stable were sent for; but they were able to answer nothing to purpose. So after much debate it was concluded, that by the twentieth of May the ships should depart. Being come near Greenwich, where the court then lay, presently the courtiers came running out, the privy council at the windows, the rest on the towers and battlements. The mariners all apparelled in watchet, or skycoloured cloth, discharge their ordnance; the noise whereof, and of the people shouting, is answered from the hills and waters with as loud an echo. Only the good King Edward then sick beheld not this sight, but died soon after. From hence putting into Harwich, they staid long and lost much time. At length passing by Shetland, they kenned a far off Ægelands, being an innumerable sort of islands called Rost Islands in sixty-six degrees. Thence to Lofoot in sixty-eight, to Seinam in seventy degrees; these islands belong all to the crown of Denmark. Whence departing Sir Hugh Willoughby set out his flag, by which he called together the chief men of his other ships to counsel; where they conclude, in case they happened to be scattered by tempest, that Wardhouse, a noted haven in Finmark, be the appointed place of their meeting. The very same day afternoon so great a tempest arose, that the ships were some driven one way, some another, in great peril. The general with his loudest voice called to Chancelor not to be far from him; but in vain, for the admiral sailing much better than his ship, and bearing all her sails, was carried with great swiftness soon out of sight; but before that, the ship-boat, striking against her ship, was overwhelmed in view of the Bonaventure, whereof Chancelor was captain. The third ship also in the same storm was lost.* But Sir Hugh Willoughby escaping that storm, and wandering on those desolate seas till the eighteenth of September, put into a haven where they had weather as in the depth of winter; and there determining to abide till spring, sent out three men south-west to find inhabitants; who journied three days, but found none; then other three went westward four days journey, and lastly three south-east three days; but they all returning without news of people, or any sign of habitation, Sir Hugh with the company of his two ships abode there till January, as appears by a will since found in one of the ships; but then perished all with cold. This river or haven was Arzina in Lapland, near to Kegor,† where they were found dead the year after by certain Russian fishermen. Whereof the English agent at Mosco having notice, sent and recovered the ships with the dead bodies and most of the goods, and sent them for England; but the ships being unstaunch, as is supposed, by their two years wintering in Lapland, sunk by the way with their dead, and them also that brought them. But now Chancelor, with his ship and company thus left, shaped his course to Wardhouse, the place agreed on to expect the rest; where having staid seven days without tidings of them, he resolves at length to hold on his voyage; and sailed so far till he found no night, but continual day and sun clearly shining on that huge and vast sea for certain days. At length they enter into a great bay, named, as they knew after, from St. Nicholas; and spying a fisherboat, made after him to know what people they were. The fishermen amazed with the greatness of his ship, to them a strange and new sight, sought to fly; but overtaken, in great fear they prostrate themselves, and offer to kiss his feet; but he raising them up with all signs and gestures of courtesy, sought to win their friendship. They no sooner dismissed, but spread abroad the arrival of a strange nation, whose humanity they spake of with great affection; whereupon the people running together, with like return of all courteous usage receive them; offering them victuals freely, nor refusing to traffic, but for a loyal custom which bound them from that, without first the consent had of their king. After mutual demands of each other’s nation, they found themselves to be in Russia, where Juan Vasiliwich at that time reigned emperor. To whom privily the governor of that place sending notice of the strange guests that were arrived, held in the mean while our men in what suspense he could. The emperor well pleased with so unexpected a message, invites them to his court, offering them post horses at his own charge, or if the journey seemed over long, that they might freely traffic where they were. But ere this messenger could return, having lost his way, the Muscovites themselves loath that our men should depart, which they made show to do, furnished them with guides and other conveniences, to bring them to their king’s presence. Chancelor had now gone more than half his journey, when the sledman sent to court meets him on the way; delivers him the emperor’s letters; which when the Russes understood, so willing they were to obey the contents thereof, that they quarrelled and strove who should have the preferment to put his horses to the sled. So after a long and troublesome journey of fifteen hundred miles he arrived at Mosco. After he had remained in the city about twelve days, a messenger was sent to bring them to the king’s house. Being entered within the court gates, and brought into an outward chamber, they beheld there a very honourable company to the number of a hundred, sitting all apparelled in cloth of gold down to their ancles: next conducted to the chamber of presence, there sat the emperor on a lofty and very royal throne; on his head a diadem of gold, his robe all of goldsmith’s work, in his hand a chrystal sceptre garnished and beset with precious stones; no less was his countenance full of majesty. Beside him stood his chief secretary; on his other side the great commander of silence, both in cloth of gold; then sat his council of a hundred and fifty round about on high seats, clad all as richly. Chancelor, nothing abashed, made his obeisance to the emperor after the English manner. The emperor having taken and read his letters, after some inquiry of King Edward’s health, invited them to dinner, and till then dismissed them. But before dismission the secretary presented their present bareheaded; till which time they were all covered; and before admittance our men had charge not to speak, but when the emperor demanded aught. Having sat two hours in the secretary’s chamber, they were at length called in to dinner; where the emperor was set at table, now in a robe of silver, and another crown on his head. This place was called the golden palace, but without cause, for the Englishmen had seen many fairer; round about the room, but at a distance, were other long tables; in the midst a cupboard of huge and massy goblets, and other vessels of gold and silver; among the rest four great flaggons nigh two yards high, wrought in the top with devices of towers and dragons’ heads. The guests ascended to their tables by three steps; all apparelled in linen, and that lined with rich furs. The messes came in without order, but all in chargers of gold, both to the emperor, and to the rest that dined there, which were two hundred persons; on every board also were set cups of gold without number. The servitors, one hundred and forty, were likewise arrayed in gold, and waited with caps on their heads. They that are in high favour sit on the same bench with the emperor, but far off. Before meat came in, according to the custom of their kings, he sent to every guest a slice of bread; whom the officer naming, saith thus, John Basiliwich, emperor of Russ, &c., doth reward thee with bread, at which words all men stand up. Then were swans in several pieces served in, each piece in a several dish, which the great duke sends about as the bread, and so likewise the drink. In dinner-time he twice changed his crown, his waiters thrice their apparel; to whom the emperor in like manner gives both bread and drink with his own hands; which they say is done to the intent that he may perfectly know his own household; and indeed when dinner was done, he called his nobles every one before him by name; and by this time candles were brought in, for it grew dark; and the English departed to their lodgings from dinner, an hour within night.
In the year fifteen hundred and fifty-five,* Chancelor made another voyage to this place with letters from Queen Mary; had a house in Mosco, and diet appointed him; and was soon admitted to the emperor’s presence in a large room spread with carpets; at his entering and salutation all stood up, the emperor only sitting, except when the queen’s name was read or spoken, for then he himself would rise: at dinner he sat bareheaded; his crown and rich cap standing on a pinnacle by. Chancelor returning for England,† Osep Napea, governor of Wologda, came in his ship embassador from the Russe; but suffering shipwreck in Pettislego, a bay in Scotland, Chancelor, who took more care to save the embassador than himself, was drowned, the ship rifled, and most of her lading made booty by the people thereabout.
In the year fifteen hundred and fifty-seven,‡ Osep Napea returned into his country with Anthony Jenkinson, who had the command of four tall ships. He reports of a whirlpool between the Rost Islands and Lofoot called Maelstrand; which from half ebb to half flood is heard to make so terrible a noise, as shakes the door-rings of houses in those islands ten miles off; whales that come within the current thereof, make a pitiful cry; trees carried in and cast out again have the ends and boughs of them so beaten, as they seem like the stalks of bruised hemp. About Zeinam they saw many whales very monstrous, hard by their ships; whereof some by estimation sixty foot long; they roared hideously, it being then the time of their engendering. At Wardhouse, he saith, the cattle are fed with fish. Coming to Mosco, he found the emperor sitting aloft in a chair of state, richly crowned, a staff of gold in his hand wrought with costly stone. Distant from him sat his brother, and a youth the emperor’s son of Casan, whom the Russe had conquered; there dined with him diverse embassadors, Christian and heathen, diversely apparelled: his brother with some of the chief nobles sat with him at table: the guests were in all six hundred. In dinner-time came in six musicians; and standing in the midst, sung three several times, but with little or no delight to our men; there dined at the same time in other halls tow thousand Tartars, who came to serve the duke in his wars. The English were set at a small table by themselves, direct before the emperor; who sent them diverse bowls of wine and meath, and many dishes from his own hand: the messes were but mean, but the change of wines and several meaths were wonderful. As oft as they dined with the emperor, he sent for them in the morning, and invited them with his own mouth. On Christmas day being invited,§ they had for other provision as before, but for store of gold and silver plate excessive; among which were twelve barrels of silver, hooped with fine gold, containing twelve gallons apiece.
In the year fifteen hundred and sixty was the first English traffic to the Narve in Livonia, till then concealed by Danskers and Lubeckers.
Fifteen hundred and sixty-one. The same Anthony Jenkinson made another voyage to Mosco; and arrived while the emperor was celebrating his marriage with a Circassian lady; during which time the city gates for three days were kept shut; and all men whatsoever straitly commanded to keep within their houses; except some of his household; the cause whereof is not known.
Fifteen hundred and sixty-six. He made again the same voyage;* which now men usually made in a month from London to St. Nicholas with good winds, being seven hundred and fifty leagues.
Fifteen hundred and sixty-eight. Thomas Randolf, Esq., went embassador to Muscovy,† from Queen Elizabeth; and in his passage by sea met nothing remarkable save great store of whales, whom they might see engendering together, and the spermaceti swimming on the water. At Colmogro he was met by a gentleman from the emperor, at whose charge he was conducted to Mosco: but met there by no man: not so much as the English; lodged in a fair house built for embassadors; but there confined upon some suspicion which the emperor had conceived; sent for at length after seventeen weeks’ delay, was fain to ride thither on a borrowed horse, his men on foot. In a chamber before the presence were sitting about three hundred persons, all in rich robes taken out of the emperor’s wardrobe for that day; they sat on three ranks of benches, rather for show than that the persons were of honour; being merchants, and other mean inhabitants. The embassador saluted them, but by them unsaluted passed on with his head covered. At the presence door being received by two which had been his guardians, and brought into the midst, he was there willed to stand still, and speak his message from the queen; at whose name the emperor stood up, and demanded her health: then giving the embassador his hand to kiss, fell to many questions. The present being delivered, which was a great silver bowl curiously graven; the emperor told him, he dined not that day openly because of great affairs; but, saith he, I will send thee my dinner, and augment thy allowance. And so dismissing him, sent a duke richly apparelled soon after to his lodging, with fifty persons, each of them carrying meat in silver dishes covered; which himself delivered into the embassador’s own hands, tasting first of every dish, and every sort of drink; that done, set him down with his company, took part, and went not thence unrewarded. The emperor sent back with this embassador another of his own called Andrew Savin.
Fifteen hundred and seventy-one. Jenkinson made a third voyage; but was staid long at Colmogro by reason of the plague in those parts; at length had audience where the court then was, near to Pereslave; to which place the emperor was returned from his Swedish war with ill success: and Mosco the same year had been wholly burnt by the Crim: in it the English house, and diverse English were smothered in the cellars, multitudes of people in the city perished, all that were young led captive with exceeding spoil.
Fifteen hundred and eighty-three. Juan Basiliwich‡ having the year before sent his embassador Pheodor Andrewich about matters of commerce, the queen made choice of Sir Jerom Bowes, one of her household, to go into Russia; who being attended with more than forty persons, and accompanied with the Russe returning home, arrived at St. Nicholos. The Dutch by this time had intruded into the Muscovy trade, which by privilege long before had been granted solely to the English; and had corrupted to their side Shalkan the chancellor, with others of the great ones; who so wrought, that a creature of their own was sent to meet Sir Jerom at Colmogro, and to offer him occasions of dislike: until at Vologda he was received by another from the emperor; and at Heraslave by a duke well accompanied, who presented him with a coach and ten geldings. Two miles from Mosco met him four gentlemen with two hundred horse, who, after short salutation, told him what they had to say from the emperor, willing him to alight, which the embassador soon refused, unless they also lighted; whereon they stood long debating; at length agreed, great dispute followed, whose foot should first touch the ground. Their message delivered, and then embracing, they conducted the embassador to a house at Mosco, built for him purposely. At his going to court, he and his followers honourably mounted and apparelled, the emperor’s guard were set on either side all the way about six thousand shot. At the court gate met him four noblemen in cloth of gold, and rich fur caps, embroidered with pearl and stone; then four others of greater degree, in which passage there stood along the walls, and sat on benches, seven or eight hundred men in coloured satins and gold. At the presence door met him the chief herald, and with him all the great officers of court, who brought him where the emperor sat: there were set by him three crowns of Muscovy, Cazan, and Astracan: on each side stood two young noblemen, costly apparelled in white, each of them had a broad axe on his shoulder; on the benches round sat above an hundred noblemen. Having given the embassador his hand to kiss, and inquired of the queen’s health, he willed him to go sit in the place provided for him, nigh ten paces distant; from thence to send him the queen’s letters and present. Which the embassador thinking not reasonable stepped forward; but the chancellor meeting him, would have taken his letters; to whom the embassador said, that the queen had directed no letters to him; and so went on and delivered them to the emperor’s own hands; and after a short withdrawing into the council-chamber, where he had conference with some of the council, he was called in to dinner: about the midst whereof, the emperor standing up, drank a deep carouse to the queen’s health, and sent to the embassador a great bowl of Rhenish wine to pledge him. But at several times being called for to treat about affairs, and not yielding aught beyond his commission, the emperor not wont to be gainsaid, one day especially broke into passion, and with a stern countenance told him, he did not reckon the queen to be his fellow; for there are, quoth he, her betters. The embassador not holding it his part, whatever danger might ensue, to hear any derogate from the majesty of his prince, with like courage and countenance told him that the queen was equal to any in Christendom, who thought himself greatest; and wanted not means to offend her enemies whomsoever. Yea, quoth he, what sayest thou of the French and Spanish kings? I hold her, quoth the embassador, equal to either. Then what to the German emperor? Her father, quoth he, had the emperor in his pay. This answer misliked the duke so far, as that he told him, were he not an embassador, he would throw him out of doors. You may, said the embassador, do your will, for I am now fast in your country; but the queen, I doubt not, will know how to be revenged of any injury offered to her embassador. Whereat the emperor in great sudden bid him get home; and he with no more reverence than such usage required, saluted the emperor, and went his way. Notwithstanding this, the Muscovite, soon as his mood left him, spake to them that stood by many praises of the embassador, wishing he had such a servant, and presently after sent his chief secretary to tell him, that whatever had passed in words, yet for his great respect to the queen, he would shortly after dispatch him with honour and full contentment, and in the mean while he much enlarged his entertainment. He also desired, that the points of our religion might be set down, and caused them to be read to his nobility with much approbation. And as the year before he had sought in marriage the lady Mary Hastings, which took not effect, the lady and her friends excusing it, be now again renewed the motion to take to wife some one of the queen’s kinswomen, either by sending an embassage or going himself with his treasure into England. Now happy was that nobleman, whom Sir Jerom Bowes in public favoured; unhappy they who had opposed him: for the emperor had beaten Shalkan the chancellor very grievously for that cause, and threatened not to leave one of his race alive. But the emperor dying soon after of a surfeit, Shalkan, to whom then almost the whole government was committed, caused the embassador to remain close prisoner in his house nine weeks. Being sent for at length to have his dispatch, and slightly enough conducted to the council-chamber, he was told by Shalkan, that this emperor would condescend to no other agreements than were between his father and the queen before his coming: and so disarming both him and his company, brought them to the emperor with many affronts in their passage, for which there was no help but patience. The emperor, saying but over what the chancellor had said before, offered him a letter for the queen: which the embassador, knowing it contained nothing to the purpose of his embassy, refused, till he saw his danger grow too great; nor was he suffered to reply, or have his interpreter. Shalkan sent him word, that now the English emperor was dead; and hastened his departure, but with so many disgraces put upon him, as made him fear some mischief in his journey to the sea: having only one mean gentleman sent with him to be his convoy; he commanded the English merchants in the queen’s name to accompany him, but such was his danger, that they durst not. So arming himself and his followers in the best wise he could, against any outrage, he at length recovered the shore of St. Nicholas. Where he now resolved to send them back by his conduct some of the affronts which he had received. Ready therefore to take ship, he causes three or four of his valiantest and discreetest men to take the emperor’s letter, and disgraceful present, and to deliver it, or leave it at the lodging of his convoy, which they safely did; though followed with a great tumult of such as would have forced them to take it back.
Fifteen hundred and eighty-four. At the coronation of Pheodor the emperor, Jerom Horsey being then agent in Russia, and called for to court with one John de Wale, a merchant of the Netherlands and a subject of Spain, some of the nobles would have preferred the Fleming before the English. But to that our agent would in no case agree, saying he would rather have his legs cut off by the knees, than bring his present in course after a subject of Spain. The emperor and prince Boris perceiving the controversy, gave order to admit Horsey first: who was dismissed with large promises, and seventy messes with three carts of several meath sent after him.
Fifteen hundred and eighty-eight. Dr. Giles Fletcher went embassador from the queen to Pheodor then emperor; whose relations being judicious and exact are best read entirely by themselves. This emperor,* upon report of the great learning of John Dee the mathematician, invited him to Mosco, with offer of two thousand pounds a year, and from prince Boris one thousand marks; to have his provision from the emperor’s table, to be honourably received, and accounted as one of the chief men in the land. All which Dee accepted not.
One thousand six hundred and four. Sir Thomas Smith was sent embassador from King James to Boris then emperor; and staid some days at a place five miles from Mosco, till he was honourable received into the city; met on horseback by many thousands of gentlemen and nobles on both sides the way; where the embassador alighting from his coach, and mounted on his horse, rode with his trumpets sounding before him; till a gentleman of the emperor’s table brought him a gennet gorgeously trapped with gold, pearl, and stone, especially with a great chain of plated gold about his neck, and horses richly adorned for his followers. Then came three great noblemen with an interpreter offering a speech; but the embassador deeming it to be ceremony, with a brief compliment found means to put it by. Thus alighting all, they saluted, and gave hands mutually. Those three, after a tedious preamble of the emperor’s title thrice repeated, brought a several compliment of three words a piece, as namely, the first, To know how the king did; the next, How the embassador; the third, That there was a fair house provided him. Then on they went on either hand of the embassador, and about six thousand gallants behind them, still met within the city by more of greater quality to the very gate of his lodging: where fifty gunners were his daily guard both at home and abroad. The prestaves, or gentlemen assigned to have the care of his entertainment, were earnest to have had the embassador’s speech and message given them in writing, that the interpreter, as they pretended, might the better translate it; but he admonished them of their foolish demand. On the day of his audience, other gennets were sent him and his attendants to ride on, and two white palfreys to draw a rich chariot, which was parcel of the present; the rest whereof was carried by his followers through a lane of the emperor’s guard; many messengers posting up and down the while, till they came through the great castle, to the uttermost court gate. There met by a great duke, they were brought up stairs through a stone gallery, where stood on each hand many in fair coats of Persian stuff, velvet, and damask. The embassador by two other counsellors being led into the presence, after his obeisance done, was to stay and hear again the long title repeated; then the particular presents; and so delivered as much of his embassage as was then requisite. After which the emperor, arising from his throne, demanded of the king’s health; so did the young prince. The embassador then delivered his letters into the emperor’s own hand, though the chancellor offered to have taken them. He bore the majesty of a mighty emperor; his crown and sceptre of pure gold, a collar of pearls about his neck, his garment of crimson velvet embroidered with precious stone and gold. On his right side stood a fair globe of beaten gold on a pyramis with a cross upon it; to which, before he spake, turning a little he crossed himself. Not much less in splendour on another throne sate the prince. By the emperor stood two noblemen in cloth of silver, high caps of black fur, and chains of gold hanging to their feet; on their shoulders two poleaxes of gold; and two of silver by the prince; the ground was all covered with arras or tapestry. Dismissed, and brought in again to dinner, they saw the emperor and his son seated in state, ready to dine; each with a skull of pearl on their bare heads, their vestments changed. In the midst of this hall seemed to stand a pillar heaped round to a great height with massy plate curiously wrought with beasts, fishes, and fowl. The emperor’s table was served with two hundred noblemen in coats of gold; the prince’s table with young dukes of Cassan, Astracan, Siberia, Tartaria, and Circassia. The emperor sent from his table to the embassador thirty dishes of meat, to each a loaf of extraordinary fine bread. Then followed a number more of strange and rare dishes piled up by half dozens, with boiled, roast, and baked, most part of them besauced with garlic and onions. In midst of dinner calling the embassador up to him he drank the king’s health, who receiving it from his hand, returned to his place, and in the same cup, being of fair chrystal, pledged it with all his company. After dinner they were called up to drink of excellent and strong meath from the emperor’s hand; of which when many did but sip, he urged it not; saying he was best pleased with what was most for their health. Yet after that, the same day he sent a great and glorious duke, one of them that held the golden poleaxe, with his retinue, and sundry sorts of meath, to drink merrily with the embassador, which some of the English did, until the duke and his followers, lightheaded, but well rewarded with thirty yards of cloth of gold, and two standing cups, departed. At second audience the embassador had like reception as before: and being dismissed, had dinner sent after him with three hundred several dishes of fish, it being Lent, of such strangeness, greatness, and goodness, as scarce would be credible to report. The embassador departing was brought a mile out of the city with like honour as he was first met; where lighting from the emperor’s sled, he took him to his coach, made fast upon a sled; the rest to their sleds, an easy and pleasant passage.
[* ]Hack. 251.
[† ]Ibid. vol. i. 248.
[‡ ]Ibid. 376.
[§ ]Ibid. 365.
[∥ ]Ibid. 284
[* ]Purc. part 3. 533.
[† ]Ibid. Purc.
[‡ ]Purc. 549, 445, 551.
[§ ]Hack. 376.
[∥ ]Ibid. 312.
[¶ ]Ibid. 377, 248.
[** ]Ibid. 251. 335.
[* ]Hack. 313.
[† ]Ibid. 325.
[‡ ]Ibid. 334.
[§ ]Ibid. 365.
[∥ ]Ibid. 240.
[* ]Hack. 309.
[† ]Ibid. 314.
[‡ ]Ibid. 239, 250.
[§ ]Ibid. 314, 250.
[* ]Hack. 316.
[† ]Ibid. 253.
[‡ ]Ibid. 242, 321.
[§ ]Ibid. 320.
[∥ ]Ibid. 318.
[¶ ]Ibid. 320, 254.
[** ]Ibid. 322.
[†† ]Ibid. 314.
[‡‡ ]Ibid. 242, 254, 323.
[§§ ]Ibid. 241, 314.
[∥∥ ]Ibid. 323.
[* ]Hack. 239.
[† ]Ibid. 314.
[‡ ]Ibid. 252.
[§ ]Purch. part 3. p. 543, 540.
[∥ ]Ibid. 524, 526.
[¶ ]Purch. part 3. p. 526, 527.
[* ]Purch. 522, 555.
[† ]Ibid. 548.
[‡ ]Purch. part 3. p. 527.
[§ ]Ibid. 527, 551, 546, 52[Editor: illegible character]
[* ]Purch. 528
[† ]Ibid. 543, 546.
[‡ ]Ibid. 797.
[§ ]Ibid. 799.
[* ]Purch. p. 806.
[† ]Hack. vol. i. p. 221.
[* ]Horsey’s Observations.
[† ]Haok. vol. 466.
[* ]Post Christ. 1604 Purch. part. 3. p. 750.
[* ]Purch. part 3. p. 764.
[* ]Post Christ. 1606.
[† ]Purch. part 3. p. 769, &c.
[* ]Post Christ. 1609.
[† ]Purch. 779.
[‡ ]Post Christ. 1612.
[§ ]Purch. part. 3. 790.
[* ]Post Christ. 1613.
[† ]Hac. vol. i. 243, 234.
[* ]Hac. 235.
[† ]Ibid. 464.
[* ]Hack. 258, 263, 465.
[† ]Ibid. 286.
[‡ ]Ibid. 310, &c.
[§ ]Ibid. 317.
[* ]Hack. 311.
[† ]Ibid. 373
[‡ ]Ibid. vol. i. 458.
[* ]Hack. 508.