Britain's Discovery of Russia, 1553-1815

By M. S. Anderson | Go to book overview

Chapter One
THE AGE OF ELIZABETH

On 28 February 1557 Londoners were regaled for the first time by the spectacle of a Russian ambassador entering their city. On that day Ossip Nepea, representative of Tsar Ivan IV, accompanied by Lord Montague and by the Lord Mayor and the Aldermen 'in their skarlet', proceeded from 'Smithfield barres' to 'his lodging situate in Fant church streete'. He was greeted all the way 'with great admiration and plausibilities of the people running plentifully on all sides and replenishing all streets in such sorte as no man without difficultie might passe'.1

Hardly any of these eager spectators had ever before set eyes on a Russian. Four years earlier a little group of Englishmen led by Richard Chancellor had reached the White Sea coast of Russia and penetrated to Moscow where they were well received by the Tsar, an achievement which ranks as one of the most important geographical discoveries of the period. But to nearly all the people who received Nepea with such enthusiasm Russia meant, if anything, merely a vast and shadowy realm cursed by a hideous climate and populated by uncouth men and fantastic beasts. This ignorance was the inevitable outcome of the course of Russian history during the previous three centuries. Kievan Russia (Kievskaya Rus'), the group of principalities covering most of the south and centre of the country in the early Middle Ages, had developed a rich and varied culture of its own. Rapidly converted to the Greek Orthodox form of Christianity from the end of the tenth century onwards, it had at times played some part in the politics of early mediaeval

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1
R. Hakluyt, The Principal Navigations, Voiages, Traffiques, and Discoveries of the English Nation (Glasgow, 1903-5), ii. 355.

-1-

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Britain's Discovery of Russia, 1553-1815
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • Abbreviations *
  • Chapter One The Age of Elizabeth 1
  • Chapter Two The Seventeenth Century 33
  • Chapter Three The Age of Peter the Great 49
  • Chapter Four Widening Horizons, 1725-1815 80
  • Chapter Five Russia and Europe Through British Eyes, 1725-91 108
  • Chapter Six The Crisis of 1791 143
  • Chapter Seven The Destruction of Poland 186
  • Chapter Eight The War Against The French Revolution 198
  • Chapter Nine The Campaign of 1812 215
  • Conclusion 233
  • Index 237
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