The ambassage of the right worshipfulll Master Thomas Randolfe, Esquire, to the Emperour of Russia, in the yeere 1568, briefly written by himselfe.
In this voyage went Thomas Bannister, and Geofrey Ducket, for their voyage into Persia. The 22 day of Iune, in the yere of our Lord 1568, I went aboord the Harry, lying in the road at Harwich with my company, being to the number of fortie persons or thereabout: of which the one halfe were gentlemen, desirous to see the world.
Within one dayes sailing, we were out of the sight of land, and following our course directly North, till we came to the North Cape, we sailed for the space of twelue dayes with a prosperous winde, without tempest or outrage of sea: hauing compassed the North Cape we directed our course flat Southeast, hauing vpon our right hand Norway, Wardhouse, Lapland, all out of sight till we came to Cape Gallant: and so sailing betweene two bayes, the two and thirtieth day after our departure from Harwich, we cast ancre at Saint Nicholas road. In all the time of our voyage, more then the great number of Whales ingendering together, which we might plainly beholde, and the Sperma Cetæ, which we might see swimming vpon the sea, there was no great thing to be woondered at. Sometimes we had calmes, wherein our Mariners fished, and tooke good store of diuers sorts. The abbey of S. Nicholas of 20 monks. At S. Nicholas we landed the 23 of Iuly, where there standeth an abbey of Monks (to the number of twentie) built all of wood: the apparell of the Monks is superstitious, in blacke hoods, as ours haue bene. Their Church is faire, but full of painted images, tapers, and candles. Their owne houses are low, and small roomes. They lie apart, they eat together, and are much giuen to drunkennesse, vnlearned, write they can, preach they doe neuer, ceremonious in their Church, and long in their prayers.
At my first arriuall I was presented from their Prior with two great rie loaues, fish both salt and fresh of diuers sorts, both sea fish and fresh water, one sheepe aliue, blacke, with a white face, to be the more gratefull vnto me, and so with many solemne words inuiting me to see their house, they tooke their leaue.
The English house at S. Nicholas. Towne or habitation at S. Nicholas there is none more then about foure houses neere the abbey, and another built by the English Company for their owne vse.
This part of the countrey is most part wood, sauing here and there pasture and arable ground, many riuers and diuers Islands vnhabited, as the most part of the countrey is, for the coldnesse in Winter.
S. Nicholas standeth Northeast: the eleuation of the pole 64 degrees. The riuer of Dwina. The riuer that runneth there into the sea is called Dwina, very large, but shallow. This riuer taketh his beginning about 700 miles within the countrey, and vpon the riuer standeth Colmogro, and many prety villages, well situated for pasture, arable land, wood, and water. The riuer pleasant betweene hie hils of either side inwardly. inhabited, and in a maner a wildernesse of hie firre trees, and other wood.
Colmogro. At Colmgoro being 100 versts, which we account for three quarters of a mile euery verst, we taried three weeks, not being suffered to depart before the Emperour had word of our comming, who sent to meet vs a gentleman of his house, to conuey vs, and to see vs furnished of victuals, and all things needfull, vpon his owne charge.
The allowance of meat and drinke was for euery day two rubbles, besides the charge of boats by water, and foure score post horses by land, with aboue 100 carts to cary my wines, and other cariage.
Colmogro is a great towne builded all of wood, not walled, but scattered house from house. The people are rude in maners, and in apparell homely, sauing vpon their festiuall, and marriage dayes.
The people of this town finding commodity by the English mens traffike with them are much at their commandement, giuen much to drunkenesse, and all other kind of abominable vices.
An English house with lands at Colmogro. In this towne the English men haue lands of their owne, giuen them by the Emperour, and faire houses, with offices for their commodity, very many.
Of other townes vntill I come to Vologda, I write not, because they are much like to this, and the inhabitants not differing from them.
I was fiue whole weeks vpon the riuer of Dwina till I came to Vologda, being drawen with men against the streame, for other passage there is none.
Vologda standeth vpon the riuer of Vologda, which commeth into Dwina. The towne is great and long, built all of wood, as all their townes are.
In this towne the Emperour hath built a castle inuironed with a wall of stone, and bricke, the walles faire and hie, round about. Here (as in all other their townes) are many Churches; some built of bricke, the rest of wood, many Monks and Nunnes in it: a towne also of great traffike, and many rich merchants there dwelling.
From hence we passed by land towards Mosco in poste, being 500 versts great, which are equall with our miles. In their townes we baited or lay, being post townes.
The description of the inland of Moscouie. The countrey is very faire, plaine and pleasant, well inhabited, corne, pasture, medowes enough, riuers, and woods, faire and goodly.
At Yeraslaue we passed the riuer of Volga, more than a mile ouer. This riuer taketh his beginning at Beal Ozera, and descendeth into Mare Caspium, portable thorow of very great vessels with flat bottomes, which farre passe any that our countrey vseth.
To saile by this riuer into Mare Caspium the English company caused a barke to be built of 27 tunns, which there was neuer seene before: This barke built and ready rigged to the sea with her whole furniture cost not the company aboue one hundreth marks there.
227 To Mosco we came about the end of September, receiued by no man, not so much as our owne countreymen suffered to meet vs, which bred suspition in me of some other course intended, then we had hitheto found.
228 We were brought to a house built of purpose by the Emperour for Ambassadours, faire and large, after the fashion of that countrey.
Two gentlemen were appointed to attend vpon me, the one to see vs furnished of victuals, and that we lacked nothing of the Emperors allowance: the other to see that we should not goe out of the house, nor suffer any man to come vnto vs, in which they left nothing vndone that belonged to their charge. But specially he that looked to our persons so straightly handled vs; that we had no small cause to doubt that some euill had bene intended vnto vs. No supplication, sute, or request could take place for our liberty, nor yet to come to his presence.
Hauing passed ouer 17 weeks in this sort, the Emperour sendeth word that we should be ready against Tuesday the 20 of Februarie, at eight a clocke in the morning.
Two Pristaues. The houre being come that I should go to the Court, the two gentlemen Pristaues (as they call them) came vnto me apparelled more princely then before I had euer seene them. They presse vs to depart, and mounted vpon their owne horses, and the Ambassador vpon such a one as he had borrowed, his men marching on foot, to their great griefe.
The Ambassadour (being my selfe) was conueyed into an office where one of the chancellors doeth vse to sit, being there accompanied with the two foresayd gentlemen: I taried two long houres before I was sent for to the Emperor. In the end message being brought that the Emperour was set, I was conueyed by my gentlemen vp a paire of staires thorow a large roome, where sate by my estimation 300 persons, all in rich attire, taken out of the Emperors wardrobe for that day, vpon three ranks of benches, set round about the place, rather to present a maiestie, then that they were either of quality or honor.
His admission to the Emperors presence. At the first entry into the chamber I with my cap gaue them the reuerence, such as I iudged, their stately sitting, graue countenances and sumptuous apparell required, and seeing that it was not answered againe of any of them I couered my head, and so passing to a chamber where the Emperor was, there receiued me at the doore from my two gentlemen or gouernors, two of the Emperors counsellors, and shewed me to the Emperor, and brought me to the middle of the chamber, where I was willed to stand still, and to say that which I had to say. I by my Interpretor opened my message as I receiued it from the Queene my Mistresse, from whom I came, at whose name the Emperor stood vp, and demanded diuers questions of her health and state: whereunto answere being made, he gaue me his hand in token of my welcome, and caused me to sit downe, and further asked me diuers questions.
The Queenes present. This done, I deliuered her Maiesties present, which was a notable great Cup of siluer curiously wrought, with verses grauen in it, expressing the histories workmanly set out in the same.
The Emperors speech to the Ambassadour. All being sayd and done (as appeared) to his contentment, he licenced me and my whole company to depart, who were all in his presence, and were saluted by him with a nod of his head, and sayd vnto me: I dine not this day openly for great affaires I haue, but I will send thee my dinner, and giue leaue to thee and thine to go at liberty, and augment our allowance to thee, in token of our loue and fauor to our sister the Queene of England.
I with reuerence tooke my leaue, being conueyed by two other of greater calling then those that brought me to the Emperors sight, who deliuered me to the two first gentlemen, who conducted me to the office where I first was, where came vnto me one called the Long duke, with whom I conferred a while, and so returned to my lodging.
Within one houre after in comes to my lodging a duke richly apparelled, accompanied with fiftie persons, ech of them carying a siluer dish with meat, and couered with siluer. The duke first deliuered twenty loaues of bread of the Emperors owne eating, hauing tasted the same, and deliuered eury dish into my hands, and tasted of euery kinde of drinke that he brought.
This being donel the duke and his company sate downe with me, and tooke part of the Emperors meat, and filled themselues well of all sorts, and went not away from me vnrewarded.
Within few nights after the Emperour had will to speake secretly with me, and sent for me in the night by the Long duke: the place was farre off, and the night colde; and I hauing changed my apparell into such as the Russes do weare, found great incommoditie thereby.
A second conference with the Emperor. Hauing talked with him aboue three houres, towards the morning I was dismissed, and so came home to my lodging, where I remained aboue six weeks after, before I heard againe from the Emperour, who went the next day to Slouoda, the house of his solace. After the end of which sixe weeks, which was about the beginning of April, the Emperour returned from Slouoda aforesayd, and sent for me againe to make repaire vnto him. And being come, I dealt effectually with him in the behalfe of our English merchants, and found him so graciously inclined towards them, that I obtained at his hands my whole demands for large priuileges in generall, together with all the rest my particular requests. Andrew Sauin Ambassadour to the Queene. And then he commended to my conduct into England, a noble man of his, called Andrew Sauin, as his Ambassadour, for the better confirmation of his priuileges granted, and other negotiations with her Maiesty. And thus being dispatched with full contentment, the sayd Ambassadour and my selfe departed, and imbarked at S. Nicholas about the end of Iuly, and arriued safely at London in the moneth of September following.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:51