Russia at the Close of the Sixteenth Century

Russia at the Close of the Sixteenth Century, comprising:

The treatise "Of the Russe Common Wealth", by Dr. Giles Fletcher


The Travels of Sir Jerome Horsey, Knt., now for the first time printed entire from his own manuscript

edited by Edward A Bond, Assistant Keeper of the Manuscripts in the British Museum.

Two important contemporary works about sixteenth century Russia are presented here. They are by men who were writing out of their own experiences of living and working under Tzar Ivan Vasilievitch (Ivan the Terrible) and his immediate successors.

The first work — "Of the Russe Common Wealth: or, Maner of Governement by the Russe Emperour (commonly called the Emperour of Moskovia) with the manners and fashions of the people of that Countrey", was written by Dr. Giles Fletcher, ambassador from Elizabeth I to Fedor (or Phedor) Ivanovitch, Ivan's son. Fletcher describes the land and its peoples, their government, laws, punishments and religion as they existed under the autocratic rule of the tsar.

The second work — "A Relacion or Memoriall abstracted owt of Sir Jerom Horsey his travels, imploiments, services and negociacions" is a very personal account by Horsey of the eighteen years during which he was first an employee of the Russia Company, and later an envoy of Elizabeth to Russian court. He was a controversial figure who seems to have made friends and enemies with equal facility. His writing is much more graphic (and eccentrically-spelled!) and from him we get a more intimate view of the Russia he knew, its endemic brutality, and the fearsome punishments inflicted.

The editor — Edward Bond, then Assistant Keeper of the Manuscripts at the British Museum — provides a very lengthy introduction giving a overview of available accounts of relations between England and Russia at that time. He also considered some of the matters of controversy discussed by Fletcher and Horsey.

Several appendices give further contemporary documents, including an account of the coronation of Fedor Ivanovitch.

Russia at the Close of the Sixteenth Century: Amazon US / Amazon UK

The Dunnett connection:

Although this covers a slightly later date than The Lymond Chronicles it gives valuable background to the fifth book, The Ringed Castle, where Francis is employed by Tzar Ivan as his army's supreme commander: Voevoda Bolshoia.