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A briefe discourse of the voyage of Sir Jerome Bowes knight, her Majesties ambassadour to Ivan Vasilivich the Emperour of Muscovia, in the yeere 1583.

THE Emperour of Russia that then lived, by name Ivan Vasiliwich, having deliberately considered how necessary it were for the strengthening of his estate, that a sure commerce and entercourse of merchants should be againe renued betweene him and her sacred Majesty of England, with such further immunities and privileges for the honor and utility of both their dominions, and subjects of the same, as upon mutuall treatie of persons interposed on both sides, might be assented unto: sent over into this realme, in the yeere of our Lord 1582, as his ambassadour for that purpose, an ancient discreet gentleman of his householde called Pheodor Andrevich Phisemsky, accompanied with one of his Secretaries, for his better assistance in that expedition: and besides his many other directions, whereof part were to be delivered by word of mouth, and the rest set downe in a letter under the Emperours signature, addressed to her Majesty: he had in speciall charge to sollicit her Majesty to send over with him to his maister an ambassador from her, to treat and contract of such affaires of importance as concerned both the realmes, which was the principall end of his imployments hither. Whereupon her Majesty very graciously inclining to the Emperors motion, and at the humble sute of the English merchants trading those countreys being caried with the same princely respects, to satisfie his demands in that behalfe, made choice of sir Jerome Bowes, a gentleman of her Court, ordinarily attending upon her Majesties person, towards whom was apparantly expressed her princely opinion and favor by the credit of this negociation.

After he had received his commission, with other speciall letters to the Emperor, with all other instructions apperteining to his charge, and that the sayd Russe ambassadour was licenced to returne home to his maister, being honorably entertained and rewarded, the English ambassador being attended upon with forty persons at the least, very honourably furnished, whereof many were gentlemen, and one M. Humfrey Cole a learned preacher, tooke his leave of her Majesty at the Court at Greenwich the eighteenth of June, and with the other ambassadour, with their severall companies, embarked themselves at Harwich the two and twentieth of the same, and after a stormy voyage at the Sea, they arrived both in safety in the road of S. Nicholas the three and twentieth of July next following.

The Russe ambassador lodged himselfe at the abbey of S. Nicholas: and the English ambassador was lodged and well intertained by the English merchants, at their house at S. Nicholas, standing in an Island called Rose Island.

The Russe ambassador having reposed himself one whole day, tooke his leave of the English ambassador, and departed towards Mosco.

The English ambassadour abode yet at S. Nicholas foure or five dayes, when having made provision of boats, and meanes to that purpose, he went forward upon his journey towards Mosco, to a towne called Colmogro, about foure score miles distant from S. Nicholas.

You must here understand that before the English ambassadors going into Russia , there were divers strangers, but especially certeine Dutch merchants, who had intruded themselves to trade into those countreys. Notwithstanding a privilege of the sole trade thither was long before granted to the English merchants. These Dutch men had already so handled the matter, as they had by chargeable meanes woonne three of the chiefest counsellers to the Emperour to be their assured friends, namely, Mekita Romanovich, Bodan Belskoy, and Andrew Shalkan the chancellor: for besides dayly gifts that they bestowed upon them all, they tooke so much money of theirs at interest at five and twenty upon the hundred, as they payd to some one of them five thousand marks yeerely for the use of his money, and the English merchants at that time had not one friend in Court.

The ambassador having now spent five weeks at S. Nicholas and at Colmogro, there came to him then a gentleman sent from the Emperor to enterteine him, and had in charge to conduct him up the rivers towards Mosco, and to deliver him provision of all kinde of victuals necessary.

This gentleman being a follower of Shalkan the chancellor, was by him (as it seemed) foisted into that service of purpose, as afterward appeared by the course he tooke, to offer discourtesies, and occasions of mislike to the ambassador: for you must understand that the chancellor and the other two great counsellors (spoken of as friends to the Dutchmen) had a purpose to oppose themselves directly against her Majesties ambassage, especially in that point, for the barring of all strangers from trading into the Emperors countrey.

This gentleman conducted the English ambassador a thousand miles up the rivers of Dwina and Soughana, to a citie called Vologda, where received him another gentleman sent from the Emperor, a man of better countenance then the other, who presented the ambassador from the Emperor with two faire geldings well furnished after their maner.

At a city called Yeraslave upon the river Volga there met the ambassador a duke well accompanied, sent from the Emperor, who presented him from the Emperor a coach and ten geldings for the more easie conveying of him to Mosco, from whence this citie was distant five hundred miles.

Two miles on this side Mosco there met the ambassador foure gentlemen of good account, accompanied with two hundred horse: who after a litle salutation not familiar, without imbracing, tolde him that they had to say to him from the Emperor, and would have had him light on foot to have heard it, notwithstanding themselves would still have sit on horsebacke: which the ambassador soone refused to doe, and so they stood long upon termes, whether both parties should light or not: which afterwards agreed upon, there was yet great nicenesse whose foot should not be first on ground.

Their message being delivered, and after having embraced ech other, they conducted the sayd ambassador to his lodging at Mosco, a house builded of purpose for him, themselves being placed in the next house to it, as appointed to furnish him of all provisions, and to be used by him upon all other occasions.

The ambassador having beene some dayes in Mosco, and having in all that time bene very honorably used from the Emperor (for such was his will) though some of his chiefest counsellors (as is sayd) had another purpose, and did often times cunningly put it in use: He was sent for to Court, and was accompanied thither with about forty gentlemen honorably mounted, and sumptuously arayed, & in his passage from his lodging to the court, were set in a ward five or sixe thousand shot, that were of the Emperors gard. At the entry into the court there met him foure noble men apparelled in cloth of gold, and rich furres, their caps embroidred with pearle and stone, who conducted him towards the Emperor, till he was met with foure others of greater degree then they, who guided him yet further towards the Emperor, in which passage there stood along the walles, and sate upon benches and fourmes in row, seven or eight hundred persons, said to be noblemen and gentlemen, all apparelled in garments of coloured satins and cloth of golde.

These foure noblemen accompanied him to the Emperors chamber doore, where met him the Emperors herald, whose office is there held great: and with him all the great officers of the Emperors chamber, who all conducted him to the place where the Emperor sate in his state, having three crownes standing by him, viz. of Moscovia, Cazan, and Astrakan, and also by him 4 yoong noblemen of about twenty yeres of age, of ech side twaine, costly apparelled in white, holding upon their shoulders ech of them a brode axe, much like to a Gallogals axe of Ireland , thin and very sharpe, the steale or handle not past halfe a yard long, and there sate about the chamber upon benches and other low seats, above an hundred noblemen richly apparelled in cloth of golde.

The ambassador being thus brought to the Emperor to kisse his hand, after some complements and inquirie of her Majesties health, he willed him to goe sit downe in a place provided for that purpose, nigh ten pases distant from him, from whence he would have had him to have sent him her Majesties letters and present, which the ambassadour thinking not reasonable stept forward towards the Emperor: in which passage the chancellor came to meet him, and would have taken his letters: to whom the ambassador sayd, that her Majesty had directed no letters to him; and so went on, and delivered then himselfe to the Emperors owne hands.

And after, having thus delivered her Majesties letters and what he had els to say at that time, he was conducted to the Councell chamber, where having had conference with the councell of matters of his ambassage, he was soone after sent for againe to the Emperour, where he dined in his presence at a side table, nere unto him, and all his company at another boord by, where also dined at other tables in the same place, all the chiefe noble men that were about the Court, to the number of an hundred. And in the time of this dinner, the Emperor used many favors to the ambassadour and about the midst of dinner (standing up) dranke a great carouse to the health of the Queene his good sister, and sent him a great bowle full of Rhenish wine and sugar to pledge him.

The ambassadour after this, was often called to Court, where he had conference both with the Emperour and his councell of the matters in question, touching both ambassages, which divers times raised many jarres: and in the end, after sundry meetings, the Emperour finding himselfe not satisfied to his liking, for that the ambassadour had not power by his commission to yeeld to every thing that he thought fit, as a man whose will was seldome wonted to be gainsayd, let loose his passion, and with a sterne and angry countenance tolde him that he did not reckon the Queene of England to be his fellow: for there are (quoth he) that are her betters.

The ambassadour greatly misliking these speeches, & being very unwilling (how dangerous soever it might proove to his owne person) to give way to the Emperor, to derogate ought from the honour and greatnesse of her Majesty: and finding also that to subject himselfe to the angrie humour and disposition of the Emperour was not the meanes to winne ought at his hands, with like courage and countenance to answere his, tolde him that the Queene his Mistresse was as great a prince as any was in Christendorne, equall to him that thought himselfe the greatest, well able to defend herselfe against his malice whosoever, and wanted no meanes to offend any that either shee had, or should have cause to be enemy unto. Yea (quoth he) How sayest thou to the French king, and the king of Spaine? Mary (quoth the ambassadour) I holde the Queene my Mistresse as great as any of them both. Then what sayest thou (quoth hee) to the Emperour of Germany? Such is the greatnesse of the Queene my Mistresse (quoth the ambassadour) as the King her father had (not long since) the Emperor in his pay, in his warres against France.

This answere misliked the Emperor yet so much more, as that he tolde the ambassadour, that were he not an ambassador, he would throw him out of the doores. Whereunto he answered that he might doe his will, for he was now fast within his countrey: but he had a Mistresse who (he doubted not) would be revenged of any injury that should be done unto him. Whereupon the Emperour in great sudden bade him get him home. And he with no more reverence then such usage required, saluted the Emperor, and went his way.

All this notwithstanding, the ambassadour was not much sooner out of the chamber, and the Emperours cholar somewhat setled, but he delivered to his councell that stood about him many commendations in the favor of the ambassador, for that he would not indure one ill word to be spoken against his Mistresse, and therewithall wished himselfe to have such a servant.

The ambassadour had not beene much more then one houre in his lodging, but the Emperour imagining (as it seemed) by the extraordinary behavior of the ambassador (for he wanted not wit to judge) that he had found what was the Emperors case, sent his principall secretary unto him, to tell him, that notwithstanding what had past, yet for the great love that he bare to the Queene his sister, he should very shortly be called againe to Court, and have a resolution of all the matters in question: and this Secretary was now further content to impart, and sayd to the ambassadour that the Emperour was fully resolved to send a greater noble man home with him in ambassage to the Queene his sister, then ever he yet at any time sent out of his countrey : and that he determined also to send to the Queene a present woorth three thousand pounds, and to gratifie himselfe at his departure with a gift that should be woorth a thousand pounds: and tolde him also that the next day the Emperour would send a great noble man unto him, to conferre with him of certaine abuses done him by Shalkan the chancellor, and his ministers.

And so the day following he sent Bodan Belskoy the chiefest counseller that he had, a man most in credit with him: this man examined all matters wherewith the ambassador had found himselfe grieved, and supplied him with what hee wanted, and righted him in all things wherein hee had beene wronged.

Not long after the returne of this noble man, the Emperor caused to be set downe in his owne presence, a new and much larger allowance of diet for the ambassador then he had had before, and shortly after sent the same to the ambassadour by his principall Secretarie Savio Frollo. This diet was so great, as the ambassadour often times sought to have it lessened, but the Emperour would not by any meanes.

    The scroule of the new diet was this:

  • One bushell of fine meale for three dayes.
  • One bushell of wheate meale for a day and a halfe.
  • Two live geese for one day.
  • Twenty hennes for the day.
  • Seven sheepe for a day.
  • One oxe for three dayes.
  • One side of porke for a day.
  • Seventie egges for a day.
  • Ten pound of butter.
  • Seventy peny white loaves of bread.
  • Twelve peny loaves of bread.
  • One veather or gallon of vineger.
  • Two veathers of salt cabiges.
  • One pecke of onions.
  • Ten pound of salt.
  • On altine, or sixe peny woorth of waxe candles.
  • Two altines of tallow candles.
  • One fourth part of a veather of cherrie mead.
  • As much of Mallynovomead.
  • Halfe a veather of burnt wine.
  • One veather of sodden mead called Obarni.
  • Three veathers of sweet mead.
  • Ten veathers of white mead.
  • Fifteene veathers of ordinary mead.
  • Foure veathers of sweet beere.
  • Fifteene veathers of beere.
  • Halfe a pound of pepper.
  • Three sollitincks or ounces of saffron.
  • One sollitincke of mase.
  • One sollitincke of nutmegs.
  • Two sollitincks of cloves.
  • Three sollitincks of sinamon.
    • Provender,

    • One bushell of oats.
    • One load of hay.
    • One load of straw.

Now he began so much to discover his purpose and affections towards her Majesty & her countrey, as he sent to the ambassador, intreating him that his preacher, and doctor Jacob his English physician, might set downe the points of the religion in use in England, which the ambassadour caused to be done accordingly, and sent them unto him, who seemed so well to like them, as he caused them (with much good allowance) to be publikely read before divers of his councell, and many others of his nobility.

Now he drew hotly againe in question to marry some kinsewoman of her Majesties, & that he would send againe into England, to have some one of them to wife, and if her Majestie would not upon his next ambassage send him such a one as he required, himselfe would then goe into England, and cary his treasure with him, and marry one of them there.

Here you must understand that the yeere before this ambassage, he had sent to her Majesty by his ambassador to have had the lady Mary Hastings in marriage, which intreaty by meanes of her inability of body, by occasion of much sicknesse, or perhaps, of no great liking either of herselfe or friends, or both, tooke no place.

The ambassador was now so farre growen into the Emperors favor, & his affection so great to England, as those great counsellers that were the ambassadors great enemies before, were now desirous of some publike courtesies at his hands for their advantage to the Emperour: neither durst they now any more interpose themselves twixt the Emperour and him: for not long before this, the Emperor for abusing the ambassador, had (to shew his favor towards him) beaten Shalkan the chanceller very grievously, and had sent him word, that he would not leave one of his race alive.

Now whilest the ambassador was thus strongly possest of the Emperours favor, he imployed himselfe in all he might, not onely for the speedy dispatch of the negotiation he had in hand, but laboured also by all the good meanes he might, further to benefit his countrey and countreymen, and so not long after wanne at the Emperours hands not onely all those things he had in commission to treat for by his instructions, but also some other of good and great importance, for the benefit of the merchants.

Private sutes obteined of the Emperor by the ambassador.

LEAVE for Richard Fransham an English man and apothecary to the Emperour, his wife, and children, to come home into England, and to bring with him all such goods as he had gotten there.

He obteined like leave for Richard Elmes an English man one of the Emperours surgions.

He also got leave for Jane Ricards the widow of Doctor Bomelius a Dutchman, and physician to the Emperour, who for treason practised with the king of Pole against the sayd Emperour, was rosted to death at the city of Mosco, in the yere 1579.

These following he obteined for the behoofe of the merchants.

HE procured for the merchants promise of recompense for certaine goods taken from their factors by robbery upon the Volga .

He obtained likewise the payment of five hundred marks, which was payd for ten yeeres before his going into Russia (into the Emperours receit) for a rent of a house that they had at Vologda.

He also got granted for them the repayment of fifteene hundred marks, which had bene exacted of them the two last yeres before his comming thither.

He got also for them order for the repayment of an olde and desperate debt of three thousand marks, a debt so desperate, as foure yeres left out of their accounts, and by the opinion of them all, not thought fit to be dealt with, for too much offending the Emperor, or impeaching his other businesse, which was thought at least otherwise sufficient, and was therefore left out of his instructions from her Majesty.

He obteined that all strangers were forbidden to trade any more into Russia , and that the passage and trade to all the Emperors Northren coasts and countries, from the Wardhouse to the river of Ob should be onely free to the English nation.

Lastly, of a great desire he had to do the merchants good, without motion either of themselves here, or their Agents there, or any other of them, he obteined of the Emperour the abatement of all their custome which they had long before payd, and agreed still to continue, which custome the Dutchmen and strangers being remooved, as now it was agreed, amounted to two thousand pounds yerely.

All these were granted, some already payd before his comming from Mosco, the olde privilege ratified, newly written, signed and sealed, and was to be delivered to the ambassadour at his next comming to Court, before when the Emperor fell sicke of a surfet, and so died.

After whose death the case was woondrously altered with the ambassador: for whereas both in his owne conceit, and in all mens opinion els, he was in great forwardnes to have growen a great man with the Emperor, what for the love he bare to her Majesty, and the particular liking he had of himselfe, he now fell into the hands of his great enemies, Mekita Romanovich and Andre Shalkan the chanceller, who, after the death of the Emperour, tooke the speciall government upon themselves, and so presently caused the ambassadour to be shut up a close prisoner in his owne house, for the space of nine weeks, and was so straightly guarded and badly used by those that attended him, as he dayly suspected some further mischiefe to have followed: for in this time there grew a great uprore in Mosco of nigh twenty thousand persons, which remembring that his enemies reigned, somewhat amazed the ambassadour, but yet afterwards the matter fell out against that great counsellor Bodan Belskoy, whom I noted before to be a special man in the old Emperors favor: who was now notwithstanding so outragiously assaulted, as that he was forced to seeke the Emperors chamber for his safety, and was afterwards sent away to Cazan, a place he had in government, five hundred miles from Mosco, where he hath remained ever since, and never as yet called againe to court, at which time the ambassador expected some such like measure, and prepared himselfe aswell as he could, for his defence: yet happily after this, was sent for to court, to have his dispatch, and to take his leave of the Emperor: whither being conducted (not after the woonted maner) and brought to the councell chamber, came to him onely Shalkan the chanceller and a brother of his, who without more adoe, tolde him for the summe of his dispatch, that this Emperour would not treat of further amity with the Queene his mistresse, then such as was betweene his late father and her, before his comming thither: and would not heare any reply to be made by the ambassadour, but presently caused both himselfe and all his company to be disarmed of their weapons, and go towards the Emperor. In which passage there were such outrages offered him, as had he not used more patience then his disposition afforded him, or the occasion required, he had not in likelihood escaped with life, but yet at length was brought to the presence of the Emperour, who sayd nothing to him, but what the chanceller had already done, but offered him a letter to carry to her Majesty, which the ambassadour (for that he knew it conteined nothing that did concerne his ambassage) refused till he saw his danger grow too great: neither would the Emperour suffer the ambassadour to reply ought, nor well he could, for they had now of purpose taken away his interpreter, being yet unwilling (as it seemed, and suspecting the ambassadours purpose) that the Emperor and other should know how dishonorably he had beene handled: for there was at that time, in that presence a noble brave gentleman, one Boris Pheodorovich Godenoe, brother to the Emperor that now is, who yet after the death of the Emperour did alwayes use the ambassadour most honorably, and would very willingly have done him much more kindenesse, but his authority was not yet, till the coronation of the Emperor: but notwithstanding he sent often unto him, not long before his departure, and accompanied his many honorable favours with a present of two faire pieces of cloth of golde, and a tymber of very good sables: and desired that as there was kindnesse and brotherhood twixt the Emperor and her Majesty, so there might be love and brotherhood twixt him and the ambassadour. Saving from this man, there was now no more favour nor friendship left for the ambassadour in Moscovia: for the chanceller Shalkan had now sent him word that the English Emperor was dead: he had now nothing offered him but dangers and disgraces too many, and a hasty dispatch from the Mosco, that he might not tary the coronation of the new Emperour: offences many in his preparation for his long journey, onely one meane gentleman appointed to accompany him to the sea side, expecting daily in his passage some sudden revenge to be done upon him, for so he understood it was threatned before his comming from the Mosco, & therefore with resolution provided by all the meanes he might, by himselfe and his servants for his defence (for now was his danger knowen such, as the English merchants did altogether leave him, although he commanded them in her Majesties name to accompany him) that if any such thing should happen to be offered him, as many of them as he could that should offer to execute it, should die with him for company: which being perceived was thought to make his passage the safer. So afterward being driven to disgest many injuries by the way, at length he recovered S. Nicholas, where remembring his unfortunate losse of the old Emperor, and his ill usage since then at the Mosco, he being forced to take a bare letter for the summe of his dispatch, conteyning nothing of that he came for, and the poore and disgracefull present sent him (in the name of the Emperour) in respect of that that was meant him by the old Emperor, knowing all these to be done in disgrace of her Majestie and himselfe, determined now to be discharged of some part of them in such sort as he could, and so providing as he might to prevent his danger, in getting to his shippe, furnishing and placing his men to answere any assault that should be offered him, after he had bidden farewell to the uncourteous gentleman that brought him thither, by three or foure of the valiantest and discreetest men he had, he sent to be delivered him or left at his lodging, his maisters weake letter, and worsse present, and so afterwards happily (though hardly) recovered his ship in safetie, although presently afterwards, there was great hurly burly after him, to force him to receive the same againe, but failed of their purpose. So came the ambassadour from S. Nicholas the twelft day of August, and arrived at Gravesend the twelft of September following, and attended her Majestie at the court at Otelands, where, after having kist her Majesties hands, and delivered some part of the successe of his ambassage, he presented her an Elke or Loshe, the Red deere of the countrey, and also a brace of Raine deare, Buck and Doe, both bearing very huge homes: they in her Majesties presence drew a sled and a man upon it, after the maner of the Samoeds, a people that inhabite in the Northeast from Russia , and were that yeere come over the sea in the winter season upon the yce, in their sleds, drawen with these deere into Russia , where the ambassadour bought of them seventeene, whereof he brought nine alive into Kent .

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