The booke of the great and mighty Emperor of Russia, and Duke of Muscouia, and of the dominions orders and commodities thereunto belonging: drawen by Richard Chancelour.
Forasmuch as it is meete and necessary for all those that minde to take in hande the trauell into farre or strange countreys, to endeuour themselues not onely to vngerstande the orders, commodities, and fruitfulnesse thereof, but also to applie them to the setting foorth of the same, whereby it may incourage others to the like trauaile: therefore haue I nowe thought good to make a briefe rehearsall of the orders of this my trauaile in Russia and Moscouia, and other countreys thereunto adioyning; because it was my chaunce to fall with the North partes of Russia before I came towards Moscouia, I will partly declare my knowledge therein. Russia is very plentifull both of land and people, and also wealthy for such commodities as they haue. They be very great fishers for Salmons and small Coddes: they haue much oyle which wee call treine oyle, the most whereof is made by a riuer called Duina. They make it in other places, but not so much as there. They haue also a great trade in seething of salte water. To the North parte of that countrey are the places where they haue their Furres, as Sables, marterns, greese Beuers, Foxes white, blacke, and redde, Minkes, Ermines, Miniuer, and Harts. There are also a fishes teeth, which fish is called a Morsse. The takers thereof dwell in a place called Postesora,170 which bring them vpon Hartes to Lampas to sell, and from Lampas carie them to a place called Colmogro,171 where the hie market is holden on Saint Nicholas day. To the West of Colmogra there is a place called Gratanowe, in our language Nouogorode, where much fine flaxe and Hempe groweth, and also much, waxe and honie. The Dutch marchants haue a Staplehouse there. There is also great store of hides, and at a place called Plesco:172 and thereabout is great store of Flaxe, Hempe, Waxe, Honie; and that towne is from Colmogro 120 miles.
There is a place called Vologda; the commodities whereof are Tallowe, Waxe, and Flaxe: but not so great plenty as is in Gratanowe. From Vologda to Colmogro there runneth a riuer called Duyna, and from thence it falleth into the sea. Colmogro serueth Gratonowe, Vologda and the Mosco with all the countrey thereabout with salte and saltfish. From Vologda to Ieraslaue is two hundreth miles:173 which towne is very great. The commodities thereof are hides, and talowe, and come in great plenty, and some Waxe, but not so plentifull as in other places.
The Mosco is from Ieraslaue two hundreth miles. The countrey betwixt them is very well replenished with small Villages, which are so well filled with people, that it is wonder to see them: the ground is well stored with corne which they carie to the citie of Mosco in such abundance that it is wonder to see it. You shall meete in a morning seuen or eight hundred sleds comming or going thither, that carie corne, and some carie fish. You shall haue some that carie corne to the Mosco, and some that fetch corne from thence, that at the least dwell a thousand miles off; and all their cariage is on sleds. Those which come so farre dwell in the North partes of the Dukes dominions, where the cold will suffer no corne to grow, it is so extreme. They bring thither fishes, furres, and beastes skinnes. In those partes they haue but small store of cattell.
The Mosco it selfe is great: I take the whole towne to bee greater then London with the suburbes: but it is very rude, and standeth without all order. Their houses are all of timber very dangerous for fire. There is a faire Castle, the walles whereof are of bricke, and very high: they say they are eighteene foote thicke, but I doe not beleeue it, it doth not so seeme, notwithstanding I doe not certainely know it: for no stranger may come to viewe it. The one side is ditched, and on the other side runneth a riuer called Moscua which runneth into Tartarie and so into the sea called Mare Caspium: and on the North side there is a base towne, the which hath also a bricke wall about it, and so it ioyneth with the Castle wall. The Emperour lieth in the castle, wherein are nine fayre Churches, and therein are religious men. Also there is a Metropolitane with diuers Bishops. I will not stande in description of their buildinges nor of the strength thereof because we haue better in all points in England. They be well furnished with ordinance of all sortes.
The Emperours or Dukes house neither in building nor in the outward shew, nor yet within the house is so sumptuous as I haue seene. It is very lowe built in eight square, much like the olde building of England, with small windowes, and so in other poynts.
Now to declare my comming before his Maiestie;174 After I had remained twelue daies, the Secretary which hath the hearing of strangers did send for me, aduertising me that the Dukes pleasure was to haue me to come before his Ma. with the kings my masters letters: whereof I was right glad, and so I gaue mine attendance. And when the Duke was in his place appointed, the interpretour came for me into the vtter chamber, where sate one hundred or moe gentlemen, all in cloth of golde very sumptuous, and from thence I came into the Counsaile chamber, where sate the Duke himselfe with his nobles, which were a faire company: they sate round about the chamber on high, yet so that he himselfe sate much higher then any of his nobles in a chaire gilt, and in a long garment of beaten golde, with an emperial crowne vpon his head and a stafle of Cristall and golde in his right hand, and his other hand halfe leaning on his chaire. The Chancelour stoode vp with the Secretary before the Duke. After my dutie done and my letter deliuered, he bade me welcome, and enquired of me the health of the King my master, and I answered that he was in good health at my departure from his court, and that my trust was that he was now in the same. Vpon the which he bade me to dinner. The chancelour presented my present vnto his Grace bareheaded (for before they were all couered) and When his Grace had receiued my letter, I was required to depart: for I had charge not to speake to the Duke, but when he spake to me. So I departed vnto the Secretaries chamber, where I remayned two houres, and then I was sent for agayne vnto another palace which is called the golden palace, but I saw no cause why it should be so called; for I haue seene many fayrer then it in all poynts: and so I came into the hall, which was small and not great as is the Kings Maiesties of England, and the table was couered with a tablecloth; and the Marshall sate at the ende of the table with a little white rod in his hand, which boorde was fall of vessell of golde: and on the other side of the hall did stand a faire cupborde of plate. From thence I came into the dining chamber, where the Duke himselfe sate at his table without cloth of estate, in a gowne of siluer, with a crowne emperiall vpon his head, he sate in a chaire somewhat hie: There sate none near him by a great way. There were long tables set round about the chamber, which were full set with such as the Duke had at dinner: they were all in white. Also the places where the tables stoode were higher by two steppes than the rest of the house. In the middest of the chamber stoode a table or cupbord to set plate on; which stoode full of cuppes of golde: and amongst all the rest there stoode foure marueilous great pottes or crudences as they call them, of golde and siluer: I think they were a good yarde and a halfe hie. By the cupborde stoode two gentlemen with napkins on their shoulders, and in their handes each of them had a cuppe of gold set with pearles and precious stones, which were the Dukes owne drinking cups; when he was disposed, he drunke them off at a draught. And for his seruice at meate it came in without order, yet it was very rich seruice, for all were serued in gold, not onely he himselfe, but also all the rest of vs, and it was very massie: the cups also were of golde and very massie. The number that dined there that day was two hundred persons, and all were serued in golden vessell. The gentlemen that waited were all in cloth of gold, and they serued him with their caps on their heads. Before the seruice came in, the Duke sent to euery man a great shiuer of bread, and the bearer called the party so sent to by his name aloude, and sayd, John Basiliuich Emperour of Russia and great Duke of Moscouia doth reward thee with bread: then must all men stand vp, and doe at all times when those words are spoken. And then last of all he giueth the Marshall bread, whereof he eateth before the Dukes Grace, and so doth reuerence and departeth. Then commeth the Dukes seruice of the Swannes all in pieces, and euery one in a seuerall dish: the which the Duke sendeth as he did the bread, and the bearer sayth the same wordes as he sayd before. As I sayd before, the seruice of his meate is in no order, but commeth in dish by dish: and then after that the Duke sendeth drinke, with the like saying as before is tolde. Also before dinner hee changed his crowne, and in dinner time two crownes; so that I saw three seuerall crownes vpon his head in one day. And thus when his seruice was all come in he gaue to euery one of his gentlemen waiters meate with his owne hand, and so likewise drinke. His intent thereby is, as I haue heard, that euery man shall know perfectly his seruants. Thus when dinner is done hee calleth his nobles before him name by name, that it is wonder to heare howe he could name them, hauing so many as he hath. Thus when dinner was done I departed to my lodging, which was an hower within night. I will leaue this, and speake no more of him nor his houshold: but I will somewhat declare of his land and people, with their nature and power in the wars. This Duke is Lord and Emperour of many countries, and his power is marueilous great. For he is able to bring into the field two or three hundred thousand men: he neuer goeth into, the field himselfe with vnder two hundred thousand men: And when he goeth himselfe he furnisheth his borders all with men of warre, which are no small number. He leaueth on the borders of Liefland fortie thousand men, and vpon the borders of Letto 60 thousand men, and towarde the Nagayan Tartars sixtie thousand, which is wonder to heare of: yet doeth hee neuer take to his warres neither husbandman nor marchant. All his men are horsemen: he vseth no footmen, but such as goe with the ordinance and labourers, which are thirtie thousand. The horsemen are all archers, with such bowes as the Turkes haue, and they ride short as doe the Turkes. Their armour is a coate of plate, with a skull, on their heads. Some of their coates are couered with veluet or cloth of gold: their desire is to be sumptuous in the field, and especially the nobles and gentlemen: as I haue heard their trimming is very costly, and partly I haue seene it, or else I would scarcely haue beleeued it: but the Duke himselfe is richly attired aboue all measure: his pauilion is couered either with cloth of gold or siluer, and so set with stones that it is wonderfull to see it. I haue seene the Kings Maiesties of England and the French Kings pauilions, which are fayre, yet not like vnto his. And when they bee sent into farre or strange countreys, or that strangers come to them, they be very gorgious. Els the Duke himselfe goeth but meanly in apparell: and when he goeth betwixt one place and another hee is but reasonably apparelled ouer other times. In the while that I was in Mosco the Duke sent two Ambassadours to the King of Poleland, which had at the lest fiue hundred horses; their sumptuousnes was aboue measure, not onely in them selues, but also in their horses, as veluet, cloth of golde, and cloth of siluer set with pearles and not scant. What shall I farther say? I neuer heard of nor saw men so sumptuous: but it is no dayly guise, for when they haue not occasion, as I sayd before, all their doing is but meane. And now to the effect of their warres: They are men without al order in the field. For they runne hurling on heapes, and for the most part they neuer giue battell to their enemies: but that which they doe, they doe it all by stelth. But I beleeue they be such men for hard liuing as are not vnder the sun: for no cold wil hurt them. Yea and though they lie in the field two moneths, at such time as it shall freese more then a yard thicke, the common souldier hath neither tent nor any thing else ouer his head: the most defence they haue against the wether is a felte, which is set against the winde and weather, and when Snowe commeth hee doth cast it off, and maketh him a fire, and laieth him down thereby. Thus doe the most of all his men, except they bee gentlemen which haue other prouision of their owne. Their lying in the fielde is not so strange as is their hardnes: for euery man must carie and make prouision for himselfe and his horse for a moneth or two, which is very wonderful. For he himselfe shall liue vpon water and otemeale mingled together cold, and drinke water therto, his horse shall eat green wood, and such like baggage, and shall stand open in the cold field without couert, and yet wil he labour and serue him right wel. I pray you amongst all our boasting warriours how many should we find to endure the field with them but one moneth. I know no such region about vs that beareth that name for man and beast. Now what might be made of these men if they were trained and broken to order and knowledge of ciuill wars? If this Prince had within his countreys such men as could make them to vnderstand the things aforesaid, I do beleeue that 2 of the best or greatest princes in Christendome were not wel able to match with him, considering the greatnes of his power and the hardnes of his people and straite liuing both of people and horse, and the small charges which his warres stand him in: for he giueth no wages, except to strangers. They haue a yerely stipend and not much. As for his own countrey men euery one serueth of his owne proper costes and charges, sauing that he giueth to his Harcubisiers certaine allowance for powder and shot: or else no man in all his countrey hath one pennie wages. But if any man hath done very good seruice he giueth him a ferme or a piece of lande; for the which hee is bound at all times to be readie with so many men as the Duke shall appoynt: who considereth in his mind what that lande or ferme is well able to finde: and so many shall he bee bound to furnish at all and euery such time as warres are holden in any of the Dukes dominions. For there is no man of liuing, but hee is bound likewise, whether the Duke call for either souldier or labourer, to furnish them with all such necessaries as to them belong.
Also, if any gentleman or man of liuing do die without issue male, immediately after his death the Duke entreth his land, notwithstanding he haue neuer so many daughters, and peraduenture giueth it foorthwith to another man, except a small portion that he spareth to marrie the daughters with all. Also if there be a rich man, a fermour, or man of liuing, which is stricken in age or by chance is maimed, and be not able to doe the Duke seruice, some other gentleman that is not able to liue and more able to doe seruice, will come to the Duke and complayne, saying, your Grace hath such an one, which is vnmeete to doe seruice to your Highnes, who hath great abundance of welth, and likewise your Grace hath many gentlemen which are poore and lacke liuing, and we that lacke are well able to doe good seruice, your grace might doe well to looke vpon him, and make him to helpe those that want. Immediately the Duke sendeth forth to inquire of his wealth: and if it be so proued, he shall be called before the Duke, and it shall bee sayd vnto him, friend, you haue too much liuing, and are vnseruiceable to your prince, lesse will serue you, and the rest will serue other men that are more able to serue, whereupon immediately his liuing shall be taken away from him, sauing a little to find himselfe and his wife on, and he may not once repine thereat: but for answere he will say, that he hath nothing, but it is Gods and the Dukes Graces, and cannot say, as we the common people in England say, if wee haue any thing; that is God’s and our owne. Men may say, that these men are in wonderfull great awe, and obedience, that thus one must giue and grant his goods which he hath bene scraping and scratching for all his life to be at his Princes pleasure and commandement. Oh that our sturdie rebels were had in the like subiection to knowe their duety towarde their Princes. They may not say as some snudges in England say, I would find the Queene a man to serue in my place, or make his friends tarrie at home if money, haue the vpper hand. No, no, it is not so in this countrey: for hee shall make humble sute to serue the Duke. And whom he sendeth most to the warres he thinketh he is most in his fauour: and yet as I before haue sayde, hee giueth no wages. If they knewe their strength no man were able to make match with them: nor they that dwel neere them should haue any rest of them. But I thinke it is not Gods will: for I may compare them to a young horse that knoweth not his strength: whome a little childe ruleth and guideth with a bridle, for all his great strength: for if he did, neither childe nor man could rule him. Their warres are holden against the Crimme Tartarians and the Nagaians.
I will stand no longer in the rehearsall of their power and warres. For it were too tedious to the reader. But I will in part declare their lawes, and punishments, and the execution of iustice. And first I will begin with the commons of the countrey, which the gentlemen haue rule on: And that is, that euery gentleman hath rule and iustice vpon his owne tenants. And if it so fall out that two gentlemens seruants and tenaunts doe disagree, the two gentlemen examine the matter, and haue the parties before them, and soe giue the sentence. And yet cannot they make the ende betwixt them of the controuersie, but either of the gentlemen must bring his seruant or tenant before the high iudge or iustice of that countrey, and there present them, and declare the matter and case. The plaintife sayth, I require the law: which is graunted: then commeth an officer and arresteth the party defendant, and vseth him contrarie to the lawes of England. For when they attach any man they beate him about the legges, vntill such time as he findeth sureties to answere the matter: And if not, his handes and necke are bound together, and he is led about the towne and beaten aboute the legges, with other extreme punishments till he come to his answere: And the Iustice demaundeth if it be for debt, and sayth: Owest thou this man any such debt? He will perhaps say nay. Then sayth the Iudge: art thou able to denie it? Let vs heare how? By othe sayth the defendant. Then he commandeth to leaue beating him till further triall be had.
Their order in one point is commendable. They haue no man of Lawe to plead their causes in any court: but euery man pleadeth his owne cause, and giueth bill and answere in writing: contrarie to the order in England. The complaint is in maner of a supplication, and made to the Dukes grace, and deliuered him into his owne hand, requiring to haue iustice as in his complaint is alleadged.
The Duke giueth sentence himselfe vpon all matters in the Law. Which is very commendable, that such a Prince wil take paines to see ministration of iustice. Yet nowithstanding it is wonderfully abused: and thereby the Duke is much deceiued. But if it fall out that the officers be espied in cloking the trueth, they haue most condigne punishment. And if the plaintife can nothing prooue, then the defendant must take his oth vpon the crucifixe whether he be in the right or no. Then is demanded if the plaintife be any thing able further to make proof: if hee bee not; then sometimes he will say, I am able to prooue it by my body and hands, or by my champions body, so requiring the Campe. After the other hath his othe, it is graunted aswell to the one as to the other. So when they goe to the field, they sweare vpon the Crucifixe, that they be both in the right, and that the one shall make the other to confesse the trueth before they depart foorth of the field: and so they goe both to the battell armed with such weapons as they vse in that countrey: they fight all on foote, and seldome the parties themselues do fight, except they be Gentlemen, for they stand much vpon their reputation, for they wil not fight, but with such as are come of as good an house as themselues. So that if either partie require the combate, it is granted vnto them, and no champion is to serue in their room: wherein is no deceit: but otherwise by champions there is. For although they take great othes vpon them to doe the battell truely, yet is the contrarie often seene: because the common champions haue none other liuing. And assoone as the one partie hath gotten the victorie, he demandeth the debt, and the other is carried to prison, and there is shamefully vsed till he take order. There is also another order in the lawe, that the plaintife may sweare in some causes of debt. And if the partie defendant be poore, he shalbe set vnder the Crucifixe, and the partie plaintife must sweare ouer his head, and when hee hath taken his othe, the Duke taketh the partie defendant home to his house, and vseth him as his bond-man, and putteth him to labour, or letteth him for hier to any such as neede him, vntill such time as his friends make prousion for his redemption: or else hee remaineth in bondage all the dayes of his life. Againe there are many that will sell themselues to Gentlemen or Marchants to bee their bond-men, to haue during their life meate, drinke and cloth, and at their comming to haue a piece of mony, yea and some will sell their wiues and children to be bawdes and drudges to the byer. Also they haue a Lawe for Fellons and Pickers contrary to the Lawes of England. For by their law they can hang no man for his first offence; but may keepe him long in prison, and oftentimes beate him with whips and other punishment: and there he shall remaine vntill his friends be able to bayle him. If he be a picker or a cut-purse, as there be very many, the second time he is taken, he hath a piece of his nose cut off, and is burned in the forehead, and kept in prison till hee finde sureties for his good behauiour. And, if he be taken the third time, he is hanged. And at the first time he is extremely punished and not released, except hee haue very good friends, or that some Gentleman require to haue him to the warres: And in so doing, he shall enter into great bonds for him: by which meanes the countrey is brought into good quietnesse. But they be naturally giuen to great deceit, except extreme beating did bridle them. They be naturally giuen to hard liuing aswell in fare as in lodging. I heard a Russian say, that it was a great deale merrier liuing in prison then foorth, but for the great beating. For they haue meate and drinke without any labour, and get the charitie of well disposed people: But being at libertie they get nothing. The poore is very innumerable, and liue most miserably: for I haue seene them eate the pickle of Hearring and other stinking fish: nor the fish cannot be so stinking nor rotten, but they will eate it and praise it to be more wholesome then other fish or fresh meate. In mine opinion there be no such people vnder the sunne for their hardnesse of liuing. Well, I will leaue them in this poynt, and will in part declare their Religion. They doe obserue the lawe of the Greekes with such excesse of superstition, as the like hath not bene heard of. They haue no grauen images in their Churches, but all painted, to the intent they will not breake the commandement: but to their painted images they vse such idolatrie, that the like was neuer heard of in England. They will neither worship nor honour any image that is made forth of their owne countrey. For their owne images (say they) haue pictures to declare what they be, and howe they be of God, and so be not ours: They say, Looke how the Painter or Caruer hath made them, so we doe worship them, and they worship none before they be Christened. They say we be but halfe Christians: because we obserue not part of the olde Law with the Turks. Therefore they call themselues more holy then vs. They haue none other learning but their mother tongue, nor will suffer no other in their countrey among them. All their seruice in Churches is in their mother tongue. They haue the olde and newe Testament, which are daily read among them: and yet their superstition is no lesse. For when the Priests doe reade, they haue such tricks in their reading, that no man can vnderstand them, nor no man giueth eare to them. For all the while the Priest readeth, the people sit downe and one talke with another. But when the Priest is at seruice no man sitteth, but gagle and ducke like so many Geese. And as for their prayers they haue but little skill, but vse to say As bodi pomele: As much to say, Lord haue mercy vpon me. For the tenth man within the land cannot say the Pater noster. And as for the Creede, no man may be so bolde as to meddle therewith but in the Church: for they say it shoulde not bee spoken of, but in the Churches. Speake to them of the Commandements, and they will say they were giuen to Moses in the law, which Christ hath now abrogated by his precious death and passion: therefore, (say they) we obserue little or none thereof. And I doe beleeue them. For if they were examined of their Lawe and Commaundements together, they shoulde agree but in fewe poynts. They haue the Sacrament of the Lords Supper in both kindes, and more ceremonies then wee haue. They present them in a dish in both kindes together, and carrie them rounde about the Church vpon the Priestes head, and so doe minister at all such times as any shall require. They be great offerers of Candles, and sometimes of money, which wee call in England, Soule pense, with more ceremonies then I am able to declare. They haue foure Lents in the yeere, whereof our Lent is the greatest. Looke as we doe begin on the Wednesday, so they doe on the Munday before: And the weeke before that they call The Butter weeke: And in that weeke they eate nothing but Butter and milke. Howbeit I beleeue there bee in no other countrey the like people for drunkennesse. The next Lent is called Saint Peters Lent, and beginneth alwayes the Munday next after Trinitie sunday, and endeth on Saint Peters euen. If they should breake that fast, their beliefe is, that they should not come in at heauen gates. And when any of them die, they haue a testimoniall with them in the Coffin, that when the soule commeth to heauen gates it may deliuer the same to Saint Peter, which declareth that the partie is a true and holy Russian. The third Lent beginneth fifteene dayes before the later Lady day, and endeth on our Lady Eeuen. The fourth Lent beginneth on Saint Martin’s day, and endeth on Christmas Eeuen: which Lent is fasted for Saint Philip, Saint Peter, Saint Nicholas, and Saint Clement. For they foure be the principall arid greatest Saints in that Countrey. In these Lents they eate neither Butter, Egges, Milke, or Cheese; but they are very straitely kept with Fish, Cabbages, and Rootes. And out of their Lents, they obserue truely the Wednesdayes and Fridayes throughout the yeere: and on the Saturday they doe eate flesh. Furthermore they haue a great number of Religious men: which are blacke Monks, and they eate no flesh throughout the yeere, but fish, milke and Butter. By their order they should eate no fresh-fish, and in their Lents they eate nothing but Coleworts, Cabbages, salt Cowcumbers, with other rootes, as Radish and such like. Their drinke is like our peny Ale, and is called Quass. They haue seruice daily in their Churches; and vse to goe to seruice two houres before day, and that is ended by day light. At nine of the clocke they goe to Masse: that ended, to dinner: and after that to seruice againe: and then to supper. You shall vnderstand that at euery dinner and supper they haue declared the exposition of the Gospel of that day: but howe they wrest and twine the Scripture and that together by report it is wonderfull. As for whoredome and drunkennesse there be none such liuing: and for extortion, they be the most abhominable under the sunne. Nowe iudge of their holinesse. They haue twise as much land as the Duke himselfe hath: but yet he is reasonable eeuen with them, as thus: When they take bribes of any of the poore and simple, he hath it by an order. When the Abbot of any of their houses dieth, then the Duke hath all his goods moueable and vnmoueable: so that the successour buieth all at the Dukes hands: and by this meane they be the best Fermers the Duke hath. Thus with their Religion I make an ende, trusting hereafter to know it better.
To the right worshipful and my singular good Vncle, Master Christopher Frothingham, giue these.
Sir, Reade and correct; For great is the defect.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:55