Britain's Discovery of Russia, 1553-1815

By M. S. Anderson | Go to book overview

Chapter Two
THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

In the seventeenth century the picture rapidly changed. Both commercial and diplomatic relations between England and Russia became steadily more tenuous and intermittent. Until the 1620's, it is true, their political contacts retained and indeed increased the importance they had possessed in Elizabethan times. In 1612-13, at the end of the Time of Troubles, there were even schemes for an English conquest of, or protectorate over, all or part of Russia.1 The treaty of Stolbovo, which in February 1617 brought peace between Russia and Sweden, was concluded largely through the mediation of Sir John Merrick, the English ambassador to the Tsar. It was followed by intermittent negotiations for an Anglo-Russian alliance, which, though never taken very seriously on the English side, might well have produced some result but for the incompetence and disobedience of the English agents in Russia, Sir Dudley Digges ( 1618) and Christopher Cocks ( 1623).2

From the end of the sixteenth century, however, the trade of the Muscovy Company was being steadily undermined by Dutch competition, in spite of the exemption from Russian customs duties which English merchants continued to enjoy until 1649. The reign of James I saw a rapid decline in the company's

____________________
1
I. Lyubimenko, Les relations commerciales et politiques de l'Angleterre avec la Russie avant Pierre le Grand ( Paris, 1933), pp. 135-40, and "A Project for the Acquisition of Russia" by James I, English Historical Review, xxix. ( 1914), 246-56; S. Konovalov, "Thomas Chamberlayne's description of Russia, 1631," Oxford Slavonic Papers, v. ( 1954), 107-10; C.S.P.D., 1611-18, p. 182; C.S.P.V., 1610-13, p. 538; V. Virginskii, Proekty prevrashcheniya Severo-vostochnoi Rossii v angliiskuyu koloniyu v xvii veke, Istoricheskii Zhurnal, 1940, No. 11.
2
S. Konovalov, "Anglo-Russian Relations, 1617-18," Oxford Slavonic Paper, i. ( 1950), 64-103. This corrects on some points the account in Lyubimenko, op. cit., pp. 160-3, and in her article "Les projets d'alliance anglo-russe au XVIe et XVIIe siècles (1567-1623)", Revue d'Histoire Diplomatique, xxxviii. ( 1923). The text of the treaty of alliance proposed by James I and taken to Russia by Cocks in 1623 is in T. Rymer, Foedera, vii. pt. iv, pp. 71-3.

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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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