Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation, by Richard Hakluyt

A letter of M. Henrie Lane to M. Richard Hakluit, concerning the first ambassage to our most gracious Queene Elizabeth from the Russian Emperour anno 1567, and other notable matters incident to those places and times.

Worshipfull sir, because I finde you haue the successe and proceedings of Osep Napea the first ambassadour of the Russian Emperour to the Maiesties of King Philip and Queene Marie, at what time and at his returne I was remaining in Russia, and do not finde that the perfect knowledge of the first ambassage from thence to this our Souereigne Ladie Queene Elizabeth is come to your hands, betweene whose Highnesse and the ambassadours I was interpretour, I thinke good to expresse it. In August Anno 1567 arriued at London with their retinue two especiall authorised messengers, named Stephen Twerdico, and Theodore Pogorella, with letters and presents to her Maiesty, at that time being at Otelands, where diuers of the chiefe merchants of the Russian company did associate them, and I there doing my duetie and office of interpretour, her Maiestie gaue them audience. First they rehearsed the long stile and Maiesty of their Master, with his most friendly and hearty commendations to her Highnesse, and then they testified the singuler great ioy and pleasure that he conceiued to heare of her most princely estate, dignitie and health: and lastly, they deliuered their letters and presents. The presents sent vnto her Maiesty were Sables, both in paires for tippets, and two timbars, to wit, two times fortie, with Luserns and other rich furres. The vse of furres wholesome, delicate, graue and comely. For at that time that princely ancient ornament of furres was yet in vse. And great pitie but that it might be renewed, especiall in Court, and among Magistrates, not onely for the restoring of an olde worshipfull Art and Companie, but also because they be for our climate wholesome, delicate, graue and comely: expressing dignitie, comforting age, and of longer continuance, and better with small cost to be preserued, then these new silks, shagges, and ragges, wherein a great part of the wealth of the land is hastily consumed.

These ambassadours were appointed lodging and enterteinement by the Moscouie company at their house then in Seething Lane, and were sundrie times after permitted to be in presence. And in May 1568 tooke their leaue at Greenwich, where they vnderstood and had the Queenes Maiesties minde, letters and reward. The trade to S. Nicholas offensiue to diuers princes and states Eastward. At the latter part of her talke, her Highnesse considering that our trade to Saint Nicholas since the beginning had bene offensiue to diuers princes, states, and merchants Eastward vsed these speeches or the like: Who is or shall be more touched by detractours, with flying tales and vntrue reports, then Princes and Rulers, to the breach of loue and vnitie? your Master and I in things that passe by word and writing, I doubt not will keepe and performe promises. If he heare the contrary of me, let him suspend his iudgement, and not be light of credit, and so will I. These words they termed her Maiesties golden speech: and kneeling downe, kissed her hand, and departed.

The letters that these two messengers brought, were deliuered to me by my Lord Treasurour, being then Secretarie, to be translated, the copies whereof I had, but now cannot finde. The copie of the Queenes Maiesties letter I send inclosed herewith vnto your worship. I also haue sent you a copy of a letter written from the king of Polonia to the Queenes Maiestie, with other letters from some of our nation and factours, declaring the displeasure for our trafficke to the Russes from Anno 1558 to the yere 1566, especially by the way of the Narue: in which yere of 1566, hauing generall procuration and commission from the Company, I was in the Low countrey at Antwerpe and Amsterdam, and sometimes in company with Polacks, Danskers, and Easterlings: and by, reason I had bene a lidger in Russia, I could the better reply and proue, that their owne nations and the Italians were most guiltie of the accusations written by the king of Poland.

This king Sigismundus225 (whose ambassadours very sumptuous I haue seene at Mosco) was reported to be too milde in suffering the Moscouites. Smolensko won by the Russe. Before our trafficke they ouerranne his great dukedome of Lituania, and tooke Smolensco, carrying the people captiues to Mosco. Polotzko taken. And in the yere 1563, as appeareth by Thomas Alcocks letter, they suffered the Russe likewise in that Duchy to take a principall city called Polotzko, with the lord and people thereof. Likewise the said Sigismundus and the king of Sweden did not looke to the protection of Liuonia, but lost all, except Rie and Reuel, and the Russe made the Narue his port to trafficke, not onely to vs, but to Lubec and others, generall. And still from those parts the Moscouites were furnished out of Dutchland by enterlopers with all arts and artificers, and had few or none by vs. The Italians also furnished them with engines of warre, and taught them warrelike stratagemes, and the arte of fortification. In the dayes of Sigismund the Russe would tant the Polacks, that they loued their ease at home with their wiues, and to drinke, and were not at commandement of their king. This Sigismund had to wife the daughter of Ferdinando, Charles the fifts brother, and he died without issue. Polotzko recouered by Stephanus Batore. Since, which time their late elected king Stephanus Batore226 kept the Russe in better order, and recouered Polotzko againe in the yere 1579. Thus with my hearty farewell I take my leaue of your worship.

Your assured friend Henrie Lane.

225 Sigismund II, the last of the Jagellon race, added Livonia to his kingdom. He reigned from 1548 to 1572. It was after his death that the King of Poland became an elective instead of an heritary sovereign.

226 Stephen Bathore, the second Elected–King, established the Cossacks as a militia. He died in 1586.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:55