A copie of the first Priuileges graunted by the Emperour of Russia to the English Marchants in the yeere 1555.
Iohn Vasiliuich, by the grace of God Emperor of Russia, great duke of Nouogrode, Moscouia, &c. To all people that shall see, reade, heare or vnderstand these presents, greeting. Forasmuch as God hath planted al realmes and dominions in the whole world with sundry commodities, so as the one hath neede of the amity and commodities of the other, and by means thereof traffike is vsed from one to another, and amity therby increased: and for that as amongst men nothing is more to be desired than amity, without the which no creature being of a naturall good disposition can liue in quietnes, so that it is as troublesome to be vtterly wanting, as it is perceiued to be grieuous to the body to lacke aire, fire, or any other necessaries most requisite for the conseruation and maintenance thereof in health: considering also how needfull marchandize is, which furnisheth men of all that which is conuenient for their liuing and nouriture, for their clothing, trimming, the satisfying of their delights, and all other things conuenient and profitable for them, and that marchandize bringeth the same commodities from diuers quarters in so great abundance, as by meanes thereof, nothing is lacking in any part, and that all things be in euery place (where entercourse of marchandizes is receiued and imbraced) generally in such sort, as amity thereby is entred into, and planted to continue, and the inioyers thereof be as men liuing in a golden world: Vpon these respects and other weighty and good considerations, vs hereunto mouing, and chiefly vpon the contemplation of the gracious letters, directed from the right high, right excellent, and right mighty Queene Mary, by the grace of God Queene of England, France, &c. in the fauour of her subiects, merchants, the gouernour, consuls, assistants, and communaltie of merchants aduenturers for discouery of lands, &c.
Know ye therefore, that we of our grace speciall, meere motion, and certaine knowledge, have giuen and graunted, and by these presents for vs, our heires and successours, do giue and graunt as much as in vs is and lieth, vnto Sebastian Cabota Gouernour, Sir George Barnes knight, &c. Consuls: Sir Iohn Gresham, &c. Assistants, and to the communaltie of the aforenamed fellowship, and to their successours for euer, and to the successours of euerie of them, these articles, graunts, immunities, franchises, liberties and priuileges, and euery of them hereafter following, expressed and declared. Videlicet:
1. First, we for vs, our heires and successors, do by these presents giue and graunt free licence, facultie, authority and power vnto the said Gouernour, Consuls, Assistants, and communalty of the said fellowship, and to their successors for euer, that all and singular the marchants of the same company, their Agents, factours, doers of their businesse, atturneys, seruants, and ministers, and euery of them may at all times hereafter for euer more surely, freely and safely, with their shippes, merchandizes, goods and things whatsoeuer saile, come and enter into all and singular our lands, countreis, dominions, cities, townes, villages, castles, portes, iurisdictions, and destraicts by sea, land or fresh waters, and there tary, abide and soiourne, and buy, sell, barter and change all kind of merchandizes with al maner of marchants and people, of whatsoeuer nation, rite, condition, state or degrees they be, and with the same or other ships, wares, marchandizes, goods and things whatsoeuer they be, vnto other empires, kingdomes, dukedomes, parts, and to any other place or places at their pleasure and liberty by sea, land or fresh waters may depart, and exercise all kinde of merchandizes in our empire and dominions, and euery part thereof freely and quietly without any restraint, impeachment, price, exaction, prest, straight custome, toll, imposition, or subsidie to be demanded, taxed or paid, or at any time hereafter to be demanded, taxed, set, leuied or inferred vpon them or any of them, or vpon their goods, ships, wares, marchandizes, and things, of, for or vpon any part or parcell thereof, or vpon the goods, ships, wares, merchandizes, and things of any of them, so that they shall not need any other safe conduct or licence generall, ne speciall of vs, our heires or successours, neither shall be bound to aske any safe conduct or licence in any of the aforesaid places subiect vnto vs.
2. Item, we giue and graunt, to the said marchants this power and liberty, that they, ne any of them, ne their goods, wares, marchandizes or things, ne any part thereof, shal be by any meanes within our dominions, landes, countreyes, castles, townes, villages, or other place or places of our iurisdiction, at any time heereafter attached, staied, arrested ne disturbed for anie debt, duetie or other thing, for the which they be not principall debters or sureties, ne also, for any offence or trespasse committed, or that shall be committed, but onely for such as they or any of them shall actually commit, and the same offences (if any such happen,) shall bee by vs onely heard, and determined.
3. Item, we giue and graunt, that the said Marchants shal and may haue free libertie, power and authoritie to name, choose and assigne brokers, shippers, packers, weighers, measurers, wagoners, and all other meet and necessary laborers for to serue them in their feat of marchandises, and minister and giue vnto them and euery of them a corporall othe, to serue them well and truely in their offices, and finding them or any of them doing contrary to his or their othe, may punish and dismisse them, and from time to time choose, sweare, and admit other in their place or places, without contradiction, let, vexation or disturbance, either of vs, our heires or successors, or of any other our Iustices, officers, ministers or subiects whatsoeuer.
4. Item, we giue and graunt vnto the saide Marchants and their successours, that such person as is, or shalbe commended vnto vs, our heires or successours by the Gouernour, Consuls and assistants of the said fellowship residant within the citie of London within the realme of England, to be their chiefe Factor within this our empire and dominions, may and shal haue ful power and authoritie to gouerne and rule all Englishmen that haue had, or shall haue accesse, or repaire in or to this said Empire and iurisdictions, or any part thereof, and shal and may minister vnto them, and euery of them good iustice in all their causes, plaints, quarrels, and disorders between them moued, and to be moued, and assemble, deliberate, consult, conclude, define, determine, and make such actes, and ordinances, as he so commended with his Assistants shall thinke good and meete for the good order, gouernment and rule of the said Marchants, and all other Englishmen repairing to this our saide empire or dominions, or any part thereof, and to set and leuie vpon all, and euery Englishman, offender or offenders, of such their acts and ordinances made, and to be made, penalties and mulcts by fine and imprisonment.
5. Item, if it happen that any of the saide Marchants, or other Englishmen, as one or more doe rebell against such chiefe Factor or Factors, or his or their deputies, and will not dispose him or themselues to obey them and euery of them as shall appertaine if the saide Rebels or disobedients doe come, and bee founde in our our saide Empire and iurisdictions, or any part and place thereof, then wee promise and graunt, that all and euery our officers, ministers, and subiects shall effectually ayde and assist the saide chiefe Factour or Factours, and their deputies, and for their power shall really woorke, to bring such rebell or disobedient rebels, or disobedients to due obedience: and to that intent shall tende vnto the same Factour or Factours, and their deputies vpon request therefore, to be made, prisons, and instruments for punishments from time to time.
6. Item, we promise vnto the saide Marchants, and their sucessours, vpon their request to exhibite and doe vnto them good, exact and fauourable iustice, with expedition in all their causes, and that when they or any of them shall haue accesse, or come to or before any of our Iustices, for any their plaints mooued, and to bee mooued betweene any our subiects or other stranger, and them, or any of them, that then they shalbe first and forthwith heard, as soon as the party which they shal find before our Iustices shalbe depeached, which party being heard forthwith, and assoone as may be, the said English marchants shall be ridde and dispatched: And if any action shall be moued by or against any of the said Marchants being absent out of our saide empire and dominions, then such Marchants may substitute an Atturney in all and singular his causes to be followed as need shall require, and as shall seeme to him expedient.
7. Item, wee graunt and promise to the saide Marchants, and to their successours, that if the same Marchants or any of them shall bee wounded, or (which God forbid) slaine in any part or place of our Empire or dominions, then good information thereof giuen, Wee and our Iustices and other officers shall execute due correction and punishment without delay, according to the exigence of the case: so that it shall bee an example to all other not to commit the like. And if it shall chaunce the factors, seruants, or ministers of the saide Marchants or any of them to trespasse or offende, whereby they or any of them shall incurre the danger of death or punishment, the goods, wares, marchandizes, and things of their Masters shall not therefoore bee forfaited, confiscated, spoiled ne seised by any meanes by vs, our heires or successours, or by any our officers, ministers or subiects, but shall remaine to their vse, franke, free, and discharged from all punishment and losse.
8. Item, we graunt that if any of the English nation be arrested for any debt, he shal not be laid in prison, so farre as he can put in sufficient suretie and pawne: neither shall any sergeant, or officer leade them or any of them to prison, before he shall have knowen whether the chiefe Factor or factors, or their deputies shalbe sureties, or bring in pawne for such arrested: then the officers shal release the partie, and shall set him or them at libertie.
9. Moreouer, we giue, graunt and promise to the saide Marchants, that if any of their ships or other vessels shall bee spoyled, robbed, or damnified in sayling, anckoring or returning to or from our saide Empires and Dominions, or any part thereof, by any Pirats, Marchants, or other person, whatsoeuer hee or they bee, that then and in such case, wee will doe all that in vs is to cause restitution, reparation, and satisfaction to bee duely made to the said English marchants by our letters and otherwise, as shall stand with our honour, and be consonant to equitie and iustice.
10. Item, for vs, our heires and successours, wee doe promise and graunt to performe, mainteine, corroborate, autenticate and obserue all and singular the aforesaide liberties, franchises, and priuiledges, like as presently we firmely doe intend, and will corroborate, autentike and performe the same by all meane and way that we can, as much as may be to the commoditie and profite of the said English Marchants, and their successours for euer.
And to the intent that all and singuler the saide giftes, graunts and promises, may bee inuiolably obserued and performed, we the said Iohn Vasiliuich by the grace of God Emperor of Russia, great Duke of Nouogrode, Mosco, &c. for vs, our heires and successors, by our Imperiall and lordly word in stead of an othe, haue and doe promise by these presents, inuiolably to mainteyne and obserue, and cause to be inuiolably obserued and mainteined all and singuler the aforesayde giftes, graunts and promises from time to time, and at all and euery time and times heereafter. And for the more corroboration hereof haue caused our Signet hereunto to be put: Dated in our Castle of Mosco the 20. day of * * * in the yeere * * *.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:51