The newe Nauigation and discouerie of the kingdome of Moscouia, by the Northeast, in the yeere 1553: Enterprised by Sir Hugh Willoughbie knight, and perfourmed by Richard Chancelor Pilot maior of the voyage: Written in Latine by Clement Adams.
At what time our Marchants perceiued the commodities and wares of England to bee in small request with the countreys and people about vs, and neere vnto vs, and that those Marchandizes which strangers in the time and memorie of our auncesters did earnestly seeke and desire, were nowe neglected, and the price thereof abated, although by vs carried to their owne portes, and all forreine Marchandises in great accompt, and their prises wonderfully raised: certaine graue Citizens of London, and men of great wisedome, and carefull for the good of their Countrey, began to thinke with themselues, howe this mischiefe might bee remedied. Neither was a remedie (as it then appeared) wanting to their desires, for the auoyding of so great an inconuenience: for seeing that the wealth of the Spaniards and Portingales, by the discouerie and search of newe trades and Countreys was marueilously increased, supposing the same to be a course and meane for them also to obteine the like, they thereupon resolued vpon a newe and strange Nauigation. And whereas at the same time one Sebastian Cabota, a man in those dayes very renowmed, happened to bee in London, they began first of all to deale and consult diligently with him, and after much speech and conference together, it was at last concluded that three shippes should bee prepared and furnished out, for the search and discouerie of the Northerne part of the world, to open a way and passage to our men for trauaile to newe and vnknowen kingdomes.
And whereas many things seemed necessary to bee regarded in this so hard and difficult a matter, they first make choyse of certaine graue and wise persons in maner of a Senate or companie, which should lay their heads together, and giue their iudgments, and prouide things requisite and profitable for all occasions: by this companie it was thought expedient, that a certaine summe of money should publiquely bee collected to serue for the furnishing of so many shippes. And lest any priuate man should bee too much oppressed and charged, a course was taken that euery man willing to be of the societie, should disburse the portion of twentie and fiue pounds a piece: so that in short time by this meanes the summe of sixe thousand pounds being gathered, the three shippes were bought, the most part whereof they prouided to be newly built and trimmed. But in this action, I wote not whether I may more admire the care of the Marchants, or the diligence of the Shipwrights: for the Marchants, they get very strong and well seasoned plankes for the building, the Shippewrights, they with daily trauaile, and their greatest skill doe fitte them for the dispatch of the shippes: they calke them, pitch them, and among the rest, they make one most stanch and firme, by an excellent and ingenious inuention. For they had heard that in certaine parts of the Ocean, a kinde of wormes is bredde, which many times pearceth and eateth through the strongest oake that is: and therfore that the Mariners, and the rest to bee imployed in this voyage might bee free and safe from this danger, they couer a piece of the keele of the shippe with thinne sheetes of leade: and hauing thus built the ships, and furnished them with armour and artillerie, then followed a second care no lesse troublesome and necessarie then the former, namely, the prouision of victuals, which was to be made according to the time and length of the voyage. And whereas they afore determined to haue the East part of the world sayled vnto, and yet that the sea towards the same was not open, except they kept the Northern tract, whereas yet it was doubtfull whether there were any passage yea or no, they resolued to victuall the ships for eighteene moneths, which they did for this reason. For our men being to passe that huge and colde part of the world, they wisely foreseeing it, allowe them sixe moneths victuall to saile to the place, so much more to remaine there if the extremitie of the winter hindered their returne, and so much more also for the time of their comming home.
Nowe this prouision being made and caried aboord, with armour and munition of all sorts, sufficient Captaines and gouenours of so great an enterprise were as yet wanting: to which office and place, although many men, (and some voyde of experience) offered themselues, yet one Sir Hugh Willoughbie a most valiant Gentleman, and well borne, very earnestly requested to haue that care and charge committed vnto him: of whom before all others, both by reason of his goodly personage (for he was of a tall stature) as also for his singular skill in the seruices of warre, the company of the Marchants made greatest accompt: so that at the last they concluded and made choyce of him for the Generall of this voyage, and appoynted him to the Admirall with authortie and command ouer all the rest. And for the gouernement of other ships although diuers men seemed willing, and made offers of themselues thereunto, yet by a common consent one Richard Chanceler, a man of great estimation for many good partes of wit in him, was elected, in whom alone great hope for the performance of this businesse rested. This man was brought vp by one Master Henry Sidney, a noble young Gentleman and very much beloued of King Edward, who at this time comming to the place where the Marchants were gathered together, beganne a very eloquent speech or Oration, and spake to them after this maner following.
My very worshipfull friends, I cannot but greatly commend your present godly and vertuous intention, in the serious enterprising (for the singular loue you beare to your Countrey) a matter, which (I hope) will prooue profitable for this nation, and honourable to this our land. Which intention of yours wee also of the Nobilitie are ready to our power to helpe and further: neither doe wee holde any thing so deare and precious vnto vs, which wee will not willingly forgoe, and lay out in so commendable a cause. But principally I reioyce in my selfe, that I haue nourished and maintained that witte, which is like by some meanes and in some measure, to profile and steede you in this worthy action. But yet I would not haue you ignorant of this one thing, that I doe now part with Chanceler, not because I make little reckoning of the man, or that his maintenance is burdenous and chargeable vnto mee, but that you might conceiue and vnderstand my good will and promptitude for the furtherance of this businesse, and that the authoritie and estimation which hee deserueth may be giuen him. You know the man by report, I by experience, you by wordes, I by deedes, you by speech and companie, but I by the daily triall of his life haue a full and perfect knowledge of him. And you are also to remember, into howe many perils for your sakes, and his countreys loue, he is nowe to runne: whereof it is requisite that wee be not vnmindefull, if it please God to send him good successe. Wee commit a little money to the chaunce and hazard of Fortune: He commits his life (a thing to a man of all things most deare) to the raging Sea, and the vncertainties of many dangers. We shall here liue and rest at home quietly with our friends, and acquaintance: but hee in the meane time labouring to keepe the ignorant and vnruly Mariners in good order and obedience, with howe many cares shall hee trouble and vexe himselfe? with how many troubles shall he breake himselfe? and howe many disquietings shall hee bee forced to sustaine? We shall keepe our owne coastes and countrey: Hee shall seeke strange and vnknowen kingdomes. He shall commit his safetie to barbarous and cruell people, and shall hazard his life amongst the monstrous and terrible beastes of the Sea. Wherefore in respect of the greatnesse of the dangers, and the excellencie of his charge, you are to fauour and loue the man thus departing from vs: and if it fall so happily out that hee returne againe, it is your part and duetie also, liberally to reward him.
After that this noble yong Getleman had deliuered this or some such like speech, much more eloquently then I can possiblie report it, the companie then present beganne one to looke vpon another, one to question and conferre with another: and some (to whom the vertue and sufficiencie of the man was knowen) began secretly to reioyce with themselues, and to conceiue a speciall hope, that the man would prooue in time very rare and excellent, and that his vertues already appearing and shining to the world woulde growe to the great honour and aduancement of this kingdome.
After all this, the companie growing to some silence, it seemed good to them that were of greatest grauity amongst them, to inquire, search and seeke what might be learned and knowen, concerning the Easterly part or tract of the world. For which cause two Tartarians, which were then of the kings Stable, were sent for, and an interpreter was gotten to be present, by whom they were demaunded touching their Countrey and the maners of their nation. But they were able to answere nothing to the purpose: being in deede more acquainted (as one there merily and openly said) to tosse pottes, then to learne the states and dispositions of people. But after much adoe and many things passed about this matter, they grew at last to this issue, to set downe and appoynt a time for the departure of the shippes: because diuers were of opinion, that a great part of the best time of the yeere was already spent, and if the delay grewe longer, the way would bee stopt and bard by the force of the Ice, and the colde climate: and therefore it was thought best by the opinion of them all, that by the twentieth day of May, They departed from Ratcliffe, the 20. of May, 1553. the Captaines and Mariners should take shipping, and depart from Radcliffe vpon the ebbe, if it pleased God. They hauing saluted their acquaintance, one his wife, another his children, another his kinsfolkes, and another his friends deerer then his kinsfolkes, were present and ready at the day appoynted: and hauing wayed ancre, they departed with the turning of the water, and sailing easily, came first to Greenewich. The greater shippes are towed downe with boates, and oares, and the mariners being all apparelled in Watchet or skie coloured cloth, rowed amaine, and made way with diligence. And being come neere to Greenewich, (where the Court then lay) presently vpon the newes therof, the Courtiers came running out, and the common people flockt together, standing very thicke vpon the shoare: the priuie Counsel, they lookt out at the windowes of the Court, and the rest ranne vp to the toppes of the towers: the shippes hereupon discharge their Ordinance, and shoot off their pieces after the maner of warre, and of the sea, insomuch that the tops of the hilles sounded therewith, the valleys and the waters gaue an Eccho, and the Mariners, they shouted in such sort, that the skie rang againe with the noyse thereof. One stoode in the poope of the ship, and by his gesture bids farewell to his friendes in the best maner hee could. Another walkes vpon the hatches, another climbes the shrowds, another stands vpon the maine yard, and another in the top of the shippe. To be short, it was a very triumph (after a sort) in all respects to the beholders. But (alas) the good King Edward (in respect of whom principally all this was prepared) hee onely by reason of his sickenesse was absent from this shewe, and not long after the departure of these ships, the lamentable and most sorrowfull accident of his death followed.
But to proceede in the matter.
The shippes going downe with the tyde came at last to Woolwich, where they stayed and cast ancre, with purpose to depart therehence againe, as soone as the turning of the water, and a better winde should draw them to set saile. After this they departed and came to Harwich, in which porte they stayed long, not without great losse and consuming of time: yet at the last with a good winde they hoysed vp saile, and committed themselues to the sea, giuing their last adieu to their natiue Countrey, which they knewe not whether they should euer returne to see againe or not. Many of them looked oftentimes back, and could not refraine from teares, considering into what hazards they were to fall, and what vncertainties of the sea they were to make triall of.
Amongst the rest, Richard Chanceler the Captaine of the Edward Bonauenture, was not a little grieued with the feare of wanting victuals, part whereof was found to be corrupt and putrified at Harwich, and the hoggesheads of wine also leaked, and were not stanch: his naturall and fatherly affection also somewhat troubled him, for he left behinde him his two little sonnes, which were in the case of Orphanes if he spedde not well: the estate also of his companie mooued him to care, being in the former respects after a sort vnhappie, and were to abide with himselfe euery good or badde accident: but in the meane time while his minde was thus tormented with the multiplicitie of sorrows and cares, after many dayes sayling, they kenned land afarre off, whereunto the Pilots directed the ships: and being come to it, they land, and find it to be Rost Island, where they stayed certaine dayes, and afterwards set saile againe, and proceeding towards the North, they espied certaine other Islands, which were called the Crosse of Islands. From which places when they were a little departed, Sir Hugh Willoughby the General, a man of good foresight and prouidence in all his actions, erected and set out his flagge, by which hee called together the chiefest men of the other shippes, that by the helpe and assistance of their counsels, the order of the gouernement, and conduction of the shippes in the whole voyage might bee the better: who being come together accordingly, they conclude and agree, that if any great tempest should arise at any time, and happen to disperse and scatter them, euery shippe should indeuour his best to goe to Wardhouse, a hauen, or castell of some name in the kingdome of Norway, and that they that arriued there first in safetie should stay and expect the comming of the rest.
The very same day in the afternoone, about foure of the clocke, so great a tempest suddenly arose, and the Seas were so outrageous, that the ships could not keepe their intended course, but some were perforce driuen one way, and some another way, to their great perill and hazard: The generall with his lowdest voyce cried out to Richard Chanceler, and earnestly requested him not to goe farre from him: but hee neither would nor could keepe companie with him, if he sailed still so fast: for the Admirall was of better saile then his shippe. But the said Admirall (I knowe not by what meanes) bearing all his sailes, was caried away with so great force and swiftnesse, that not long after hee was quite out of sight, and the third ship also with the same storme and like rage was dispersed and lost vs.
The shippe boate of the Admirall (striking against the shippe,) was ouerwhelmed in the sight and viewe of the Mariners of the Bonauenture: and as for them that are already returned and arriued, they know nothing of the rest of the ships what was become of them.
But if it be so, that any miserable mishap haue ouertaken them, If the rage and furie of the Sea haue deuoured those good men, or if as yet they liue, and wander vp and downe in strange Countreys, I must needs say they were men worthy of better fortune, and if they be liuing, let vs wish them safetie and a good returne: but if the crueltie of death hath taken holde of them, God send them a Christian graue and Sepulchre.
Nowe Richard Chanceler with his shippe and company being thus left alone, and become very pensiue, heauie, and sorrowfull, by this dispersion of the Fleete, hee (according to the order before taken,) shapeth his course for Wardhouse in Norway, there to expect and abide the arriuall of the rest of the shippes. And being come thither, and hauing stayed there the space of 7 dayes, and looked in vaine for their comming, hee determined at length to proceede alone in the purposed voyage. And as hee was preparing himselfe to depart, it happened that hee fell in company and speech with certaine Scottish men: who hauing vnderstanding of his intention, and wishing well to his actions, beganne earnestly to disswade him from the further prosecution of the discouerie, by amplifying the dangers which hee was to fall into, and omitted no reason that might serue to that purpose. But hee holding nothing so ignominious and reproachfull, as inconstancie and leuitie of minde, and perswading himselfe that a man of valour coulde not commit a more dishonourable part then for feare of danger to auoyde and shunne great attempts, was nothing at all changed or discouraged with the speeches and words of the Scots, remaining stedfast and immutable in his first resolution: determining either to bring that to passe which was intended, or els to die the death.
And as for them which were with Master Chanceler in his shippe, although they had great cause of discomfort by the losse of their companie (whom the foresaid tempest had separated from them,) and were not a little troubled with cogitations and pertubations of minde, in respect of their doubtfull course: yet notwithstanding, they were of such consent and agreement of minde with Master Chanceler, that they were resolute, and prepared vnder his direction and gouernment, to make proofe and triall of all aduentures, without all feare or mistrust of future dangers. Which constancie of minde in all the companie did exceedingly increase their Captaines carefulnesse: for hee being swallowed vp with like good will and loue towards them, feared lest through any errour of his, the safetie of the companie should bee indangered. To conclude, when they sawe their desire and hope of the arriuall of the rest of the shippes to be euery day more and more frustrated, they prouided to sea againe, and Master Chanceler held on his course towards that vnknowen part of the world, and sailed so farre, that hee came at last to the place where he found no night at all, but a continual light and brightnesse of the Sunne shining clearely vpon the huge and mightie Sea. They arriue in the Bay of Saint Nicholas. And hauing the benefite of this perpetuall light for certaine dayes, at the length it pleased God to bring them into a certaine great Bay, which was of one hundreth miles or thereabout ouer. Whereinto they entred, and somewhat farre within it cast ancre, and looking euery way about them, it happened that they espied a farre off a certaine fisher boate, which Master Chanceler, accompanied with a fewe of his men, went towards to common with the fishermen that were in it, and to knowe of them what Countrey it was, and what people, and of what maner of liuing they were: but they beeing amazed with the strange greatnesse of his shippe, (for in those partes before that time they had neuer seene the like) beganne presently to auoyde and to flee: but hee still following them at last ouertooke them, and being come to them, they (being in great feare, as men halfe dead) prostrated themselues before him, offering to kisse his feete: but hee (according to his great and singular courtesie,) looked pleasantly vpon them, comforting them by signes and gestures, refusing those dueties and reuerences of theirs, and taking them vp in all louing sort from the ground. And it is strange to consider howe much fauour afterwards in that place, this humanitie of his did purchase to himselfe. For they being dismissed spread by and by a report abroad of the arriuall of a strange nation, of a singular gentlenesse and courtesie: whereupon the common people came together offering to these newe-come ghests victuals freely, and not refusing to traffique with them, except they had bene bound by a certaine religious vse and custome, not to buy any forreine commodities, without the knowledge and consent of the king.
By this time our men had learned that this Countrey was called Russia, or Moscouie, and that Iuan Vasiliwich (which was at that time their Kings name) ruled and gouerned farre and wide in those places. And the barbarous Russes asked likewise of our men whence they were, and what they came for: whereunto answere was made, that they were Englishmen sent into those coastes, from the most excellent King Edward the sixt, hauing from him in commandement certaine things to deliuer to their King, and seeking nothing els but his amitie and friendship, and traffique with his people, whereby they doubted not, but that great commoditie and profit would grow to the subiects of both kingdomes.
The Barbarians heard these things very gladly, and promised their aide and furtherance to acquaint their king out of hand with so honest and a reasonable request.
In the meane time Master Chanceler intreated victuals for his money of the gouernour of that place (who together with others came aboord him) and required hostages of them likewise for the more assurance of safetie to himselfe and his company. To whom the gouernours answered, that they knewe not in that case the will of their king, but yet were willing in such things as they might lawfully doe, to pleasure him: which was as then to affoord him the benefit of victuals.
Nowe while these things were a doing, they secretly sent a messenger vnto the Emperour, to certifie him of the arriuall of a strange nation, and withall to knowe his pleasure concerning them. Which message was very welcome vnto him, insomuch that voluntarily he inuited them to come to his Court. But if by reason of the tediousnesse of so long a iourney, they thought it not best so to doe, then hee graunted libertie to his subiects to bargaine, and to traffique with them: and further promised, that if it would please then to come to him, hee himselfe would beare the whole charges of poste horses. In the meane time the gouernours of the place differred the matter from day to day, pretending diuers excuses, and saying one while that the consent of all the gouernours, and another while, that the great and waightie affaires of the kingdome compelled them to differ their answere: and this they did of purpose, so long to protract the time, vntill the messenger (sent before to the king) did returne with relation of his will and pleasure.
But Master Chanceler, (seeing himselfe held in this suspense with long and vaine expectation, and thinking that of intention to delude him, they posted the matter off so often,) was very instant with them to performe their promise: Which if they would not doe, hee tolde them that hee would depart and proceede in his voyage. So that the Moscouites (although as yet they knew not the minde of their king) yet fearing the departure in deede of our men who had such wares and commodities as they greatly desired, they at last resolued to furnish our people with all things necessarie, and to conduct them by land to the presence of their king. And so Master Chanceler beganne his iourney, which was very long and most troublesome, wherein hee had the vse of certaine sleds, and all their carriages are in the same sort, the people almost not knowing any other maner of carriage, the cause whereof is the exceeding hardnesse of the ground congealed in the winter time by the force of the colde, which in those places is very extreme and horrible, whereof hereafter we will say something.
But nowe they hauing passed the greater part of their iourney, mette at last with the Sleddeman (of whom I spake before) sent to the king secretly from the Iustices or gouernours, who by some ill happe had lost his way, and had gone to the Sea side, which is neere to the Countrey of the Tartars thinking there to haue found our ship. But hauing long erred and wandered out of his way, at the last in his direct returne, hee met (as hee was coming) our Captaine on the way. To whom hee by and by deliuered the Emperours letters, which were written to him with all courtesie and in the most louing maner that could be: wherein expresse commandement was giuen, that post horses should bee gotten for him and the rest of his company without any money. Which thing was of all the Russes in the rest of their iourney so willingly done, that they began to quarrell, yea, and to fight also in striuing and contending which of them should put their post horses to the sledde: so that after much adoe and great paines taken in this long and wearie iourney, (for they had trauelled very neere fifteene hundred miles) Master Chanceler came at last to Mosco the chiefe citie of the kingdome, and the seate of the king: of which citie, and of the Emperour himselfe, and of the principall cities of Moscouie, wee will speake immediately more at large in this discourse.
Moscouie, which hath the name also of Russia the white, is a very large and spacious Countrey, euery way bounded with diuers nations. Towards the South and the East, it is compassed with Tartaria: the Northren side of it stretcheth to the Scytian Ocean: vpon the West part border the Lappians, a rude and sauage nation, liuing in woods, whose language is not knowen to any other people: next vnto these, more towards the South, is Swecia, then Finlandia, then Liuonia, and last of all Lituania. This Countrey of Moscouie, hath also very many and great riuers in it, and is marish ground, in many places: and as for the riuers, the greatest and most famous amongst, all the rest, is that, which the Russes in their owne tongue call Volga, but others know it by the name of Rha. Next vnto it in fame is Tanais, which they call Don, and the third Boristhenes which at this day they call Neper. Two of these, to wit, Rha, and Boristhenes yssuing both out of one fountaine, runne very farre through the land: Rha receiuing many other pleasant riuers into it, and running from the very head or spring of it towards the East, after many crooked turnings and windings, dischargeth it selfe, and all the other waters and riuers that fall into it by diuers passages into the Caspian Sea. Tanais springing from a fountaine of great name in those partes, and growing great neere to his head, spreds it selfe at length very largely, and makes a great lake: and then growing narrowe againe, doth so runne for certaine miles, vntill it fall into another lake, which they call Iuan: and therehence fetching a very crooked course, comes very neere to the riuer Volga: but disdaining as it were the company of any other riuer, doth there turne it selfe againe from Volga, and runnes toward the South, and fals at last into the Lake of Moeotis. Boristhenes, which comes from the same head that Rha doth, (as wee sayde before) carieth both it selfe, and other waters that are neere vnto it, towards the South, not refusing the mixture of other small riuers: and running by many great and large Countreys fals at last into Pontius Euxinus. Besides these riuers, are also in Muscouie certaine lakes, and pooles, the lakes breede fish by the celestiall influence: and amongst them all, the chiefest and most principall is called Bealozera, which is very famous by reason of a very strong towre built in it, wherein the kings of Muscouie reserue and repose their treasure in all times of warre and danger.
Touching the Riphean mountaines, whereupon the snow lieth continually, and where hence in times past it was thought that Tanais the riuer did spring, and that the rest of the wonders of nature, which the Grecians fained and inuented of olde, were there to be seene: our men which lately came from thence, neither sawe them, not yet haue brought home any perfect relation of them, although they remained there for the space of three moneths, and had gotten in that time some intelligence of the language of Moscouie. The whole Countrey is plaine and champion, and few hils in it: and towards the North it hath very large and spacious woods, wherein is great store of Firre trees, a wood very necessarie, and fit for the building of houses: there are also wilde beastes bred in those woods, as Buffes, Beares, and blacke Wolues, and another kinde of beast vnknowen to vs, but called by them Rossomakka: and the nature of the same is very rare and wonderfull: for when it is great with yong, and ready to bring foorth, it seeketh out some narrow place betweene two stakes, and so going through them, presseth it selfe, and by that meanes is eased of her burden, which otherwise could not be done. They hunt their buffes for the most part a horsebacke, but their Beares a foot, with woodden forkes. The north parts of the Countrey are reported to be so cold, that the very ice or water which distilleth out of the moist wood which they lay upon the fire is presently congealed and frozen: the diuersitie growing suddenly to be so great, that in one and the selfe same firebrand, a man shall see both fire and ice. When the winter doth once begin there it doth still more and more increase by a perpetuitie of cold: neither doth that colde slake, vntill the force of the Sunne beames doth dissolue the cold, and make glad the earth, returning to it againe. Our mariners which we left in the ship in the meane time to keepe it, in their going vp onely from their cabbins to the hatches, had their breath oftentimes so suddenly taken away, that they eftsoones fell downe as men very neere dead, so great is the sharpenesse of that colde climate: but as for the South parts of the Countrey, they are somewhat more temperate.
It remaineth that a larger discourse be made of Mosco, the principall City of that Countrey, and of the Prince also, as before we haue promised. The Empire and gouernment of the king is very large, and his wealth at this time exceeding great. And because the citie of Mosco is the chiefest of al the rest, it seemeth of it selfe to challenge the first place in this discourse. Our men say, that in bignesse it is as great as the Citie of London, with the suburbes thereof. There are many and great buildings in it, but for beautie and fairenesse, nothing comparable to ours. There are many Townes and Villages also, but built out of order, and with no hansomnesse: their streets and wayes are not paued with stone as ours are: the walles of their houses are of wood: the roofes for the most part are couered with shingle boords. There is hard by the Citie a very faire Castle, strong, and furnished with artillerie, whereunto the Citie is ioyned directly towards the North, with a bricke wall: the walles also of the Castle are built with bricke, and are in breadth or thickenesse eighteene foote. This Castle hath on the one side a drie ditch, on the other side the riuer Moscua, whereby it is made almost inexpugnable. The same Moscua trending towards the East doth admit into it the companie of the riuer Occa.
In the Castle aforesaide, there are in number nine Churches, or Chappells, not altogether vnhansome, which are vsed and kept by certaine religious men, ouer whom there is after a sort, a Patriarke, or Gouernour, and with him other reuerend Fathers all which for the greater part, dwell within the Castle. As for the kings Court and Palace, it is not of the neatest, onely in forme it is foure square, and of low building, much surpassed and excelled by the beautie and elegancie of the houses of the kings of England. The windowes are very narrowly built, and some of them by glasse, some other by lettisses admit the light: and whereas the Palaces of our Princes are decked, and adorned with hangings of cloth of gold, there is none such there: they build and ioyne to all their wals benches, and that not onely in the Court of the Emperour, but in all priuate mens houses.
Nowe after that they had remained about twelue dayes in the Citie there was then a Messenger sent vnto them, to bring them to the Kings house: and they being after a sort wearied with their long stay, were very ready, and willing so to doe: and being entred within the gates of the Court, there sate a very honorable companie of Courtiers, to the number of one hundred, all apparelled in cloth of golde, downe to their ankles: and there hence being conducted into the chamber of presence, our men beganne to wonder at the Maiestie of the Emperour: his seate was aloft, in a very royall throne, hauing on his head a Diademe, or Crowne of golde, apparalled with a robe all of Goldsmiths worke, and in his hand hee held a Scepter garnished, and beset with precious stones: and besides all other notes and apparances of honour, there was a Maiestie in his countenance proportionable with the excellencie of his estate: on the one side of him stood his chiefe Secretaire, on the other side, the great Commander of silence, both of them arayed also in cloth of gold: and then there sate the Counsel of one hundred and fiftie in number, all in like sort arayed, and of great State. This so honorable an assemblie, so great a Maiestie of the Emperour, and of the place might very well haue amazed our men, and haue dasht them out of countenance: but notwithstanding Master Chanceler being therewithall nothing dismaied saluted, and did his duetie to the Emperour, after the maner of England, and withall, deliuered vnto him the letters of our king, Edward the sixt. The Emperour hauing taken, and read the letters, began a litle to question with them, and to aske them of the welfare of our king: whereunto our men answered him directly, and in few words: hereupon our men presented some thing to the Emperour, by the chiefe Secretary, which at the deliuery of it, put of his hat, being before all the time couered: and so the Emperour hauing inuited them to dinner, dismissed them from his presence: and going into the chamber of him that was Master of the Requests to the Emperour, and hauing stayed there the space of two howres, at the last, the Messenger commeth, and calleth them to dinner: they goe, and being conducted into the golden Court, (for so they call it, although not very faire) they finde the Emperour sitting vpon an high and stately seate, apparelled with a robe of siluer, and with another Diademe on his head: our men being placed ouer against him, sit downe: in the middes of the roome stoode a mightie Cupboord vpon a square foote, whereupon stoode also a round boord, in manner of a Diamond, broade beneath, and towardes the toppe narrowe, and euery steppe rose vp more narrowe then another. Vpon this Cupboorde was placed the Emperours plate, which was so much, that the very Cupboord it selfe was scant able to sustaine the waight of it: the better part of all the vessels, and goblets, was made of very fine gold: and amongst the rest, there were foure pots of very large bignesse, which did adorne the rest of the plate in great measure: for they were so high, that they thought them at the least fiue foote long. There were also vpon this Cupbord certaine siluer caskes, not much differing from the quantitie of our Fyrkins, wherein was reserued the Emperours drinke: on each side of the Hall stood foure Tables, each of them layde and couered with very cleane table clothes, whereunto the company ascended by three steps or degrees: all which were filled with the assemblie present: the ghests were all apparelled with linnen without, and with rich skinnes within, and so did notably set out this royall feast The Emperour, when hee takes any bread or knife in his hand, doth first of all crosse himselfe vpon his forehead: they that are in special fauour with the Emperour sit vpon the same bench with him, but somewhat farre from him: and before the comming in of the meate, the Emperour himselfe, according to an ancient custome of the kings of Moscouy, doth first bestow a piece of bread vpon euery one of his ghests, with a loud pronunciation of his title, and honour, in this manner: The great Duke of Moscouie, and chiefe Emperour of Russia, Iohn Basiliwich (and then the officer nameth the ghest) doth giue thee bread. Whereupon al the ghests rise vp, and by and by sit downe againe. This done, the Gentleman Vsher of the Hall comes in, with a notable company of seruants, carying the dishes, and hauing done his reuerence to the Emperour, puts a yong Swanne in a golden platter vpon the table, and immediately takes it thence againe, deliuering it to the Caruer, and seuen other of his fellowes, to be cut up: which being perfourmed, the meate is then distributed to the ghests, with the like pompe, and ceremonies. In the meane time, the Gentleman Vsher receiues his bread, and tasteth to the Emperour, and afterward, hauing done his reuerence, he departeth. Touching the rest of the dishes, because they were brought in out of order, our men can report no certaintie: but this is true, that all the furniture of dishes, and drinking vessels, which were then for the vse of a hundred ghests, was all of pure golde, and the tables were so laden with vessels of gold, that there was no roome for some to stand vpon them.
We may not forget, that there were 140. seruitors arayed in cloth of gold, that in the dinner time, changed thrise their habit and apparell, which seruitors are in like sort serued with bread from the Emperour, as the rest of the ghests. Last of all, dinner being ended, and candles brought in, (for by this time night was come) the Emperour calleth all his ghests and Noble Men by their names, in such sort, that it seemes miraculous, that a Prince, otherwise occupied in great matters of estate, should so well remember so many and sundry particular names. The Russes tolde our men, that the reason thereof, as also of the bestowing of bread in that maner, was to the ende that the Emperour might keepe the knowledge of his owne houshold: and withal, that such as are vnder his displeasure, might by this meanes be knowen.
Whensoeuer the iniuries of their neighbours doe call the King foorth to battell, hee neuer armeth a lesse number against the enemie, then 300. thousand soldiers, 100. thousand whereof hee carieth out into the field with him, and leaueth the rest in garison in some fit places, for the better safetie of his Empire. He presseth no husbandman, nor Marchant: for the Countrey is so populous, that these being left at home, the youth of the Realme is sufficient for all his wars. As many as goe out to warfare doe prouide all things of their owne cost: they fight not on foote, but altogether on horsebacke: their armour is a coate of maile, and a helmet: the coate of maile without is gilded, or els adorned with silke, although it pertaine to a common soldier: they haue a great pride in shewing their wealth: they vse bowes, and arrowes, as the Turks do: they cary lances also into the field. They ride with a short stirrop, after the maner of the Turks: They are a kinde of people most sparing in diet, and most patient in extremitie of cold, aboue all others. For when the ground is couered with snowe, and is growen terrible and hard with the frost, this Russe hangs vp his mantle, or souldiers coate, against that part from whence the winde and Snowe driues, and so making a little fire, lieth downe with his backe towards the weather: this mantle of his serues him for his bed, wall, house and all: his drinke is colde water of the riuer, mingled with oatemeale, and this is all his good cheere, and he thinketh himselfe well, and daintily fedde therewith, and so sitteth downe by his fire, and vpon the hard ground, rosteth as it were his wearie sides thus daintily stuffed: the hard ground is his feather bed, and some blocke or stone his pillow: and as for his horse, he is as it were a chamberfellow with his master, faring both alike. How iustly may this barbarous, and rude Russe condemne the daintinesse and nicenesse of our Captaines, who liuing in a soile and aire much more temperate, yet commonly vse furred boots, and clokes? But thus much of the furniture of their common souldiers. But those that are of higher degrees come into the field a little better prouided. As for the furniture of the Emperour himselfe, it is then aboue all other times, most notable. The couerings of his tent for the most part, are all of gold, adorned with stones of great price, and with the curious workemanship of plumasiers. As often as they are to skirmish with the enemie, they goe forth without any order at all: they make no wings, nor militarie diuisions of their men, as we doe, but lying for the most part, in ambush, doe suddenly set vpon the enemie. Their horses can well abstaine two whole daies from any meate. They feede vpon the barkes of trees, and the most tender branches, in all the time of warre. And this scant and miserable maner of liuing, both the horse and his Master can well endure, sometimes for the space of two moneths, lustie, and in good state of body. If any man behaue himselfe valiantly in the fielde, to the contentation of the Emperour, he bestoweth vpon him in recompense of his seruice, some farme, or so much ground as he and his may liue vpon, which notwithstanding after his death, returneth againe to the Emperour, if he die without a male issue. For although his daughters be neuer so many, yet no part of that inheritance comes to them, except peraduenture the Emperour of his goodnesse, giue some portion of the land amongst them, to bestowe them withall. As for the man, whosoeuer he be, that is in this sort rewarded by the Emperours liberalitie, hee is bound in a great summe, to maintaine so many souldiers for the warre, when need shall require, as that land, in the opinion of the Emperour, is able to maintaine. And all those, to whom any land fals by inheritance, are in no better condition: for if they die without any male issue, all their lands fall into the hands of the Emperour. And moreouer, if there be any rich man amongst them, who in his owne person is vnfit for the warres, and yet hath such wealth, that thereby many Noble men and warriours might be maintained, if any of the Courtiers present his name to the Emperour, the vnhappy man is by and by sent for, and in that instant, depriued of all his riches, which with great paines and trauell all his life time he had gotten together: except perhaps some small portion thereof be left him, to maintaine his wife, children and familie. But all this is done of all the people so willingly at the Emperours commandement, that a man would thinke, they rather make restitution of other mens goods, then giue that which is their owne to other men. Nowe the Emperour hauing taken these goods into his hands, bestoweth them among his Courtiers, according to their deserts: and the oftener that a man is sent to the warres, the more fauour he thinketh is borne to him by the Emperour, although he goe vpon his owne charge, as I said before. So great is the obedience of all men generally to their Prince.
The Moscouite, with no lesse pompe, and magnificence, then that which we haue spoken of, sends his Ambassadors to forrein Princes, in the affaires of estate. For while our men were abiding in the Citie of Mosco, there were two Ambassadors sent to the King of Poland, accompanied with 500. notable horses, and the greater part of the men were arrayed in cloth of gold, and of silke, and the worst apparell was of garments of blewe colour, to speake nothing of the trappings of the horses, which were adorned with gold and siluer, and very curiously embrodered: they had also with them one hundred white and faire spare horses, to vse them at such times, as any wearinesse came vpon them. But now the time requireth me to speake briefly of other Cities of the Moscouites, and of the wares and commodities that the Countrey yeeldeth.
Next vnto Mosco, the Citie of Nouogorode is reputed the chiefest of Russia: for although it be in Maiestie inferior to it, yet in greatnesse it goeth beyond it. It is the chiefest and greatest Marte Towne of all Moscouie: and albeit the Emperour’s seate is not there, but at Mosco, yet the commodiousness of the riuer, falling into the gulfe, which is called Sinus Finnicus, whereby it is well frequented by Marchants, makes it more famous then Mosco it selfe. This towne excels all the rest in the commodities of flaxe and hempe: It yeeldes also hides, honie, and waxe. The Flemings there sometimes had a house of Marchandize, but by reason that they vsed the like ill dealing there, which they did with vs, they lost their priuileges, a restitution whereof they earnestly sued for at the time that our men were there. But those Flemings hearing of the arriuall of our men in those parts, wrote their letters to the Emperour against them, accusing them for pirats and rouers, wishing him to detaine, and imprison them. Which things when they were knowen of our men, they conceiued feare, that they should neuer haue returned home. But the Emperour beleeuing rather the Kings letters, which our men brought, then the lying and false suggestions of the Flemings, vsed no ill intreatie towards them.
Yeraslaue also is a Towne of some good fame, for the commodities of hides, tallow, and corne, which it yeeldes in great abundance. Cakes of waxe are there also to bee solde, although other places haue greater store: This Yeraslaue is distant from Mosco, about two hundred miles: and betwixt them are many populous villages. Their fields yeeld such store of corne, that in conuaying it towards Mosco, sometimes in a forenoone, a man shall see seuen hundred or eight hundred sleds, going and comming, laden with corne and salt fish: the people come a thousand miles to Mosco, to buy that corne, and then cary it away vpon sleds: and these are those people that dwell in the North parts, where the colde is so terrible, that no corne doth growe there, or if it spring vp it neuer comes to ripenesse. The commodities that they bring with them, are salt fish, skinnes, and hides.
Vologda being from Mosco, 550. miles yeeldes the commodities of Hempe and Flaxe also: although the greatest store of Flaxe is solde at Nouogrode.
The Towne of Plesco, is frequented of Marchants for the good store of Honie and Waxe that it yeeldeth.
The North parts of Russia yeelde very rare and precious skinnes: and amongst the rest, those principally, which we call Sables, worne about the neckes of our Noble women and Ladies: it hath also Martins skinnes, white, blacke, and red Foxe skinnes, skinnes of Hares, and Ermyns, and others, which they call and terme barbarously, as Beuers, Minxes, and Miniuers. The sea adioyning, breedes a certaine beast, which they call the Mors, which seeketh his foode vpon the rockes, climing vp with the helpe of his teeth. The Russes vse to take them, for the great vertue that is in their teeth, whereof they make as great accompt, as we doe of the Elephants tooth. These commodities they cary vpon Deeres backes to the towne of Lampas: and from thence to Colmagro, and there in the winter time, are kept great Faires for the sale of them. This Citie of Colmagro, serues all the Countrey about it with salt, and salt fish. The Russians also of the North parts, send thither oyle, which they call traine, which they make in a riuer called Vna, Or Dwina. although it be also made elsewhere: and here they vse to boile the water of the sea, whereof they make very great store of salt.
Hauing hitherto spoken so much of the chiefest Cities of Russia, as the matter required: it remaineth that we speake somewhat of the lawes, that the Moscouits doe vse, as farre foorth as the same are come to our knowledge. If any controuersie arise among them, they first make their Landlords Iudges in the matter, and if they cannot end it, then they preferre it to the Magistrate. The plaintif craueth of the said Magistrate, that he may haue leaue to enter law against his aduesarie: and hauing obtained it, the officer fetcheth the defendant, and beateth him on the legges, till he bring forth a suretie for him: but if he be not of such credite, as to procure a surety, then are his hands by an officer tied to his necke, and he is beaten all the way, till he come before the Iudge. The Iudge then asketh him (as for example in the matter of debt) whether he oweth any thing to the plaintife. If he denies it, then saith the Iudge, How canst thou deny it? the defendant answereth, By an othe: thereupon the officer is commaunded to cease from beating of him, vntill the matter be further tried. They haue no Lawyers, but euery man is his owne Aduocate, and both the complaint of the accuser, and the answere of the defendant, are in maner of petition deliuered to the Emperour, intreating iustice at his hands. The Emperour himselfe heareth euery great controuersie, and vpon the hearing of it, giueth iudgement, and that with great equitie, which I take to be a thing worthy of speciall commendation, in the Maiestie of a Prince. But although he doe this with a good purpose of mind, yet the corrupt Magistrates do wonderfully peruert the same: but if the Emperour take them in any fault, he doeth punish them most seuerely. Now at the last, when ech partie hath defended his cause with his best reasons, the Iudge demandeth of the accuser, whether he hath any more to say for himselfe: he answereth, that he will trie the matter in fight by his Champion, or else intreateth, that in fight betwixt themselues the matter may be ended: which being graunted, they both fight it out: or if both of them, or either of them seeme vnfit for that kinde of triall, then they haue publike Champions to be hired, which liue by ending of quarrels. These Champions are armed with yron axes, and speares, and fight on foote, and he whose Champion is ouercome, is by and by taken, and imprisoned, and terribly handled, vntill he agree with his aduersarie. But if either of them be of any good calling, and degree, and doe challenge one another to fight, the Iudge granteth it: in which case they may not vse publike Champions. And he that is of any good birth, doth contemne the other, if he be basely borne, and wil not fight with him. If a poore man happen to grow in debt, his Creditor takes him, and maketh him pay the debt, in working either to himselfe, or to some other man, whose wages he taketh vp. And there are some among them, that vse willingly to make themselues, their wiues, and children, bondslaues vnto rich men, to haue a little money at the first into their hands, and so for euer after content themselues with meate and drinke: so little accompt doe they make of libertie.
If any man be taken vpon committing of theft, he is imprisoned, and often beaten, but not hanged for the first offence, as the manner is with vs: and this they call the lawe of mercie. He that offendeth the second time hath his nose cut off, and is burnt in the forehead with a hot yron. The third time, he is hanged. There are many cutpurses among them, and if the rigour of the Prince did not cut them off they could not be auoyded.
They maintaine the opinions of the Greeke Church: they suffer no grauen images of saints in their Churches, but their pictures painted in tables they haue in great abundance, which they do adore and offer vnto, and burne waxe candles before them, and cast holy water vpon them, without other honour. They say that our images which are set vp in Churches, and carued, haue no diuinitie in them. In their priuate houses they haue images for their household saints, and for the most part, they are put in the darkest place of the house: hee that comes into his neighbours house doth first salute his saints, although he see them not. If any foorme or stoole stand in his way, hee oftentimes beateth his browe vpon the same, and often ducking downe with his head, and body, worshippeth the chiefe Image. The habite, and attire of the Priests, and of the Lay men, doth nothing at all differ: as for marriage, it is forbidden to no man: onely this is receiued and held amongst them for a rule, and custome, that if a Priests wife doe die, he may not marry againe, nor take a second wife: and therefore they of secular Priests, as they call them, are made Monkes, to whom then chastitie for euer is commanded. Their diuine seruice is all done and said in their owne language, that euery man may vnderstand it: they receiue the Lords Supper with leauened bread, and after the consecration, they carry it about the Church in a saucer, and prohibite no man from receiuing and taking of it, that is willing so to doe. They vse both the Olde and the Newe Testament, and read both in their owne language, but so confusedly, that they themselues that doe reade, vnderstand not what themselues doe say: and while any part of either Testament is read, there is liberty giuen by custome to prattle, talke, and make a noise: but in the time of the rest of the seruice they vse very great silence and reuerence and behaue themselues very modestly, and in good sort. As touching the Lords praier, the tenth man amongst them knowes it not: and for the articles of our faith, and the ten commandements, no man, or at the least very fewe of them doe either know them or can say them: their opinion is, that such secrete and holy things as they are should not rashly and imprudently be communicated with the common people. They holde for a maxime amongst them, that the olde Lawe, and the commandements also are abolished by the death and blood of Christ: all studies and letters of humanitie they vtterly refuse: concerning the Latine, Greeke, and Hebrew tongues, they are altogether ignorant in them.
Euery yeere they celebrate foure seuerall fastes, which they call according to the names of the Saints: the first beginnes with them, at the time that our Lent beginnes. The second is called amongst them the fast of S. Peter. The third is taken from the day of the Virgin Marie. And the fourth and last begins vpon S. Philips day. But as we begin our Lent vpon Wednesday, so they begin theirs vpon the Sunday. Vpon the Saturday they eate flesh: whensoeuer any of those fasting feastes doe drawe neere, looke what weeke doth immediately goe before them, the same weeke they liue altogether vpon white meates, and in their common language they call those weekes, the fast of Butter.
In the time of their fasts, the neighbours euery where goe from one to another, and visite one another, and kisse one another with kisses of peace, in token of their mutuall loue and Christian concord: and then also they doe more often then at any other time goe to the holy Communion. When seuen dayes are past, from the beginning of the fast, then they doe often either goe to their Churches, or keepe themselues at home, and vse often prayer: and for that seuennight they eate nothing but hearbes: but after that seuennights fast is once past, then they returne to their old intemperancie of drinking, for they are notable tospots. As for the keeping of their fasting dayes, they doe it very streightly, neither doe they eate any thing besides hearbes, and salt fish, as long as those fasting dayes doe endure: but vpon euery Wednesday and Friday, in euery weeke thoughout the yeere, they fast.
There are very many Monasteries of the order of S. Benedict, amongst them, to which many great liuings, for their maintenance, doe belong: for the Friers and the Monkes doe at the least possesse the third part of the liuings, throughout the whole Moscouite Empire. To those Monkes that are of this Order, there is amongst them a perpetuall prohibition, that they may eate no flesh: and therefore their meate is onely salt fish, milke, and butter: neither is it permitted them by the lawes, and customes of their religion, to eate any fresh fish at all: and at those foure fasting times, whereof we spake before, they eate no fish at all: onely they liue with hearbes, and cucumbers, which they doe continually for that purpose cause and take order to grow and spring, for their vse and diet.
As for their drinke, it is very weake, and small. For the discharge of their office, they do euery day say seruice, and that early in the mornings before day: and they doe in such sort, and with such obseruation begin their seruice, that they will be sure to make an ende of it, before day: and about nine of the clocke in the morning they celebrate the Communion. When they haue so done, they goe to dinner, and after dinner they goe againe to seruice, and the like also after supper: and in the meane time while they are at dinner there is some exposition or interpretation of the Gospel vsed.
Whensoeuer any Abbot of any monasterie dieth, the Emperour taketh all his housholde stuffe, beastes, flockes of sheepe, golde, siluer, and all that he hath: or els hee that is to succeede him in his place and dignitie doth redeeme all those things, and buyeth them of the Emperour for money.
Their churches are built of timber, and the towers of their churches for the most part are centered with shingle boordes. At the doores of their churches, they vsually build some entrance or porch as we doe, and in their churchyardes they erect a certain house of woode, wherein they set vp their bels, wherein sometimes they haue but one, in some two, and in some also three.
There is one vse and custome amongst them, which is strange and rare, but yet it is very ridiculous, and that is this: when any man dyeth amongst them, they take the dead body and put it in a coffine or chest, and in the hand of the corps they put a little scroule, and in the same there are these wordes written, that the same man died a Russe of Russes, hauing receiued the faith, and died in the same. This writing or letter they say they send to S. Peter, who receiuing it (as they affirme) reades it, and by and by admits him into heauen, and that his glory and place is higher and greater than the glory of the Christians of the Latine church, reputing themselues to be followers of a more sincere faith and religion than they: they hold opinion that we are but halfe Christians, and themselues onely to be the true and perfect church: these are the foolish and childish dotages of such ignorant Barbarians.
There is a certaine part of Moscouie bordering vpon the countreys of the Tartars, wherein those Moscouites that dwell are very great idolaters: they haue one famous idole amongst them, which they call the Golden old wife: and they haue a custome that whensoeuer any plague or any calamity doth afflict the country, as hunger, warre, or such like, then they goe to consult with their idol, which they do after this manner: they fall down prostrate before the idol, and pray vnto it, and put in the presence of the same, a cymbal: and about the same certaine persons stand, which are chosen amongst them by lot: vpon their cymball they place a siluer tode, and sound the cymball, and to whomsoeuer of those lotted persons that tode goeth, he is taken, and by and by slaine: and immediately, I know not by what illusions of the deuill or idole, he is againe restored to life, and then doth reueale and deliuer the causes of the present calamitie. And by this meanes knowing how to pacifie the idole, they are deliuered from the imminent danger.
The common houses of the countrey are euery where built of beames of Firre tree: the lower beames doe so receiue the round hollownesse of the vppermost, that by the meanes of the building thereupon, they resist, and expell all winds that blow, and where the timber is ioined together, there they stop the chinks with mosse. The forme and fashion of their houses in al places is foure square, with streit and narrow windoes, whereby with a transparent casement made or couered with skinne like to parchment, they receiue the light The roofes of their houses are made of boords couered without with ye barke of trees: within their houses they haue benches or griezes hard by their wals, which commonly they sleepe vpon, for the common people knowe not the vse of beds: they haue stoues wherein in the morning they make a fire, and the same fire doth either moderately warme, or make very hote the whole house.
The apparell of the people for the most part is made of wooll, their caps are picked like vnto a rike or diamond, broad beneath, and sharpe vpward. In the maner of making whereof, there is a signe and representation of nobilitie: for the loftier or higher their caps are, the greater is their birth supposed to be, and the greater reuerence is giuen them by the common people.
These are the things most excellent Queene, which your Subiects newly returned from Russia haue brought home concerning the state of that countrey: wherfore if your maiestie shall be fauourable, and grant a continuance of the trauell, there is no doubt but that the honour and renowne of your name will be spred amongst those nations, whereunto three onely noble personages from the verie creation haue had accesse, to whom no man hath bene comparable.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:51