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Of the Tartars, and other borderers to the country of Russia , with whom they have most to doe in warre, and peace.

THEIR neighbors with whom they have greatest dealings & intercourse, both in peace & war, are first the Tartar. Secondly the Polonian whom the Russe calleth Laches, noting the first author or founder of the nation, who was called Laches or Leches, wherunto is added Po, which signifieth People, and so is made Polaches, that is, the People or posterity of Laches : which the Latins after their maner of writing cal Polonos. The third are the Swedens. The Polonians & Swedens are better knowen to these parts of Europe then are the Tartars, that are farther off from us (as being of Asia) and divided into many tribes, different in name, and government one from another. The greatest and mightiest of them is the Chrim Tartar, (whom some call the Great Can) that lieth South, & Southeastward from Russia , and doth most annoy the country by often invasions, commonly once every yere, sometimes entring very farre within the inland parts. In the yere 1571 he came as farre as the citie of Mosco, with an armie of 200000 men, without any battel, or resistance at al, for that the Russe Emperor (then Ivan Vasiliwich) leading forth his armie to encounter with him, marched a wrong way. The citie he tooke not, but fired the suburbs, which by reason of the buildings (which are all of wood without any stone, brick, or lime, save certeine out roomes) kindled so quickly, and went on with such rage, as that it consumed the greatest part of the citie almost within the space of foure houres, being of 30 miles or more of compasse. Then might you have seene a lamentable spectacle: besides the huge & mighty flame of the citie all on light fire, the people burning in their houses and streetes, but most of all of such as laboured to passe out of the gates farthest from the enemie, where meeting together in a mighty throng, & so pressing every man to prevent another, wedged themselves so fast within the gate, and streetes neere unto it, as that three rankes walked one upon the others head, the uppermost treading downe those that were lower: so that there perished at that time (as was said) by the fire & the presse, the number of 800000 people or more.

The principall cause of this continual quarell betwixt the Russe & the Chrim is for the right of certaine border partes claimed by the Tartar, but possessed by the Russe . The Tartar alleageth that besides Astracan and Cazan (that are the ancient possession of the East Tartar) the whole countrey from his bounds North and Westward so farre as the citie of Mosko, and Mosko it selfe perteineth to his right. Which seemeth to have bene true by the report of the Russes them selves, that tell of a certaine homage that was done by the Russe Emperour every yeere to the great Chrim or Can, the Russe Emperour standing on foot and feeding the Chrims horse, (himselfe sitting on his backe) with oates out of his owne cappe, in stead of a bowle or manger, and that within the castle of Mosko. And this homage (they say) was done till the time of Basileus grandfather to this man. Who surprising the Chrim Emperour by a stratageme done by one of his nobilitie (called Ivan Demetrowich Belschey) was content with this raunsome, viz. with the changing of this homage into a tribute of furres: which afterwards also was denied to be paide by this Emperors father.

Hereupon they continue ye quarrel, the Russe defending his countrey, & that which he hath won, ye Chrim Tartar invading him once or twise every yere, somtime about Whitsontide, but oftner in harvest. What time if the great Can or Chrim come in his owne person, he bringeth with him a great armie of 100000. or 200000. men. Otherwise they make short & sudden rodes into the countrey with lesser numbers, running about the list of the border as wild geese flie, invading and retiring where they see advantage.

Their common practise (being very populous) is to make divers armies, and so drawing the Russe to one or two places of the frontiers, to invade at some other place, that is left without defence. Their maner of fight, or ordering of their forces is much after the Russe maner (spoken of before) save that they are all horsemen, and carie nothing els but a bowe, a sheafe of arrowes, and a falcon sword after the Turkish fashion. They are very expert horsemen, and use to shoote as readily backward as forward. Some wil have a horsmans staffe like to a bore speare, besides their other weapons. The common souldier hath no other armour then his ordinary apparell, viz. a blacke sheeps skin with the wool side outward in the day time, and inwarde in the night time, with a cap of the same. But their Morseys or noblemen imitate the Turk both in apparel and armour. When they are to passe over a river with their armie, they tie three or foure horses together, and taking long poles or pieces of wood, bind them fast to the tailes of their horse: so sitting on the poles they drive their horse over. At handle strokes (when they joyne battell) they are accounted farre better men then the Russe people, fierce by nature, but more hardy and bloody by continuall practise of warre: as men knowing no artes of peace, nor any civil practise.

Yet their subtilty is more then may seeme to agree with their barbarous condition. By reason they are practised to invade continually, and to robbe their neighbours that border about them, they are very pregnant, and ready witted to devise stratagems upon the sudden for their better advantage. As in their warre against Beala the fourth, king of Hungarie, whome they invaded with 500000. men, and obtained against him a great victorie. Where, among other, having slaine his Chancelor called Nicholas Schinick, they found about him the kings privy seale. Whereupon they devised presently to counterfeit letters in the kings name, to the cities and townes next about the place, where the field was fought: with charge that in no case they should convey themselves, and their goods out of their dwellings, where they might abide safely without all feare of danger, and not leave the countrey desolate to the possession of so vile and barbarous an enemie, as was the Tartar nation, terming themselves in all reprochful maner. For notwithstanding he had lost his carriages, with some few straglers that had marched disorderly, yet he doubted not but to recover that losse, with the accesse of a notable victorie, if the savage Tartar durst abide him in the field. To this purpose having written their letters in the Polish character, by certaine yong men whom they tooke in the field, and signed them with the Kings seale, they dispatched them forth to all the quarters of Hungaria, that lay neere about the place. Whereupon the Ungarians that were now flying away with their goods, wives, and children, upon the rumour of the kings overthrow, taking comfort of these counterfeit letters, staied at home. And so were made a pray, being surprised on the sudden by this huge number of these Tartars, that had compassed them about before they were aware.

When they besiege a towne or fort, they offer much parle, and send many flattering messages to perswade a surrendry: promising all things that the inhabitants will require: but being once possessed of the place, they use all maner of hostilitie, and crueltie. This they doe upon a rule they have, vz. that justice is to be practised but towards their owne. They encounter not lightly, but they have some ambush, whereunto (having once shewed themselves, and made some short conflict) they retire as repulsed for feare, and so draw the enemie into it if they can. But the Russe beeing well acquainted with their practise is more warie of them. When they come a roving with some small number, they set on horsebacke counterfaite shapes of men, that their number may seeme greater.

When they make any onset, their maner is to make a great shoute, crying all out together Olla Billa, Olla Billa, God helpe us, God help us. They contemne death so much, as that they chuse rather to die, then to yeeld to their enemie, and are seene when they are slain to bite the very weapon, when they are past striking or helping of themselves. Wherein appeareth how different the Tartar is in his desperate courage from the Russe and Turke. For the Russe souldier, if he begin once to retire, putteth all his safetie in his speedy flight. And if once he be taken by his enemy, he neither defendeth himselfe, nor intreateth for his life, as reckoning straight to die. The Turk commonly, when he is past hope of escaping, falleth to intreatie, and casteth away his weapon, offereth both his hands, and holdeth them, as it were to be tied: hoping to save his life, by offering himselfe bondslave.

The chiefe bootie the Tartars seeke for in all their warres is to get store of captives, specially young boyes and girles, whome they sell to the Turkes, or other their neighbours. To this purpose they take with them great baskets made like bakers panniers to carry them tenderly, and if any of them happen to tire, or to be sicke by the way, they dash him against the ground, or some tree, and so leave him dead. The Souldiers are not troubled with keeping the captives and the other bootie, for hindering the execution of their warres, but they have certaine bandes that intend nothing else, appoynted of purpose to receive and keepe the captives and the other praye.

The Russe borderers (being used to their invasions lightly every yere in the Sommer) keepe fewe other cattell on the border partes, save swine onely which the Tartar will not touch, nor drive away with him: for that he is of the Turkish religion, and will eate no swines flesh. Of Christ our Saviour they confesse as much as doeth the Turke in his Alkaron, viz. that he came of the Angel Gabriel and the Virgin Marie, that he was a great Prophet, and shall be the Judge of the worlde at the last day. In other matter likewise, they are much ordered after the manner and direction of the Turke: having felt the Turkish forces when hee wonne from them Azov and Caffa , with some other townes about the Euxine or blacke Sea, that were before tributaries to the Crim Tartar. So that now the Emperor of the Crims for the most part is chosen one of the Nobility whom the Turke doeth commend: whereby it is brought nowe to passe, that the Crim Tartar giveth to the Turke the tenth part of the spoyle which hee getteth in his warres against the Christians.

Herein they differ from the Turkish religion, for that they have certaine idole puppets made of silke, or like stuffe, of the fashion of a man, which they fasten to the doore of their walking houses, to be as Janusses or keepers of their house. And these idoles are made not by all, but by certaine religious women which they have among them for that and like uses. They have besides the image of their King or great Can, of an huge bignesse, which they erect at every stage when the army marcheth: and this every one must bend and bowe unto as he passeth by it, be he Tartar or stranger. They are much given to witchcraft, and ominous conjectures upon every accident which they heare or see.

In making of mariages they have no regard of alliance or consanguinitie. Onely with his mother, sister, and daughter a man may not marrie, and though he take the woman into his house, and accompany with her, yet he accounteth her not for his wife till he have a childe by her. Then hee beginneth to take a dowry of her friends of horse, sheepe, kine, &c. If she be barren after a certaine time, he turneth her home againe.

Under the Emperour they have certaine Dukes, whome they call Morseis or Divoymorseis, that rule over a certaine number of 10000. 20000. or 40000. a piece, which they call Hoords. When the Emperour hath any use of them to serve in his warres, they are bound to come, and to bring with them their Souldiers to a certain number, every man with his two horse at the least, the one to ride on, the other to kill, when it commeth to his turne to have his horse eaten. For their chiefe vitaile is horse flesh, which they eate without bread, or any other thing with it. So that if a Tartar be taken by a Russe , he shall be sure lightly to finde a horse-legge, or some other part of him at his saddle bowe.

This last yeere when I was at the Mosco, came in one Kiriach Morsey, nephew to the Emperour of the Crims that nowe is (whose father was Emperour before) accompanied with 300. Tartars, and his two wives, whereof one was his brothers widow. Where being intertained in very good sort after the Russe maner, hee had sent unto his lodging for his welcome, to bee made ready for his supper and his companies, two very large and fat horses, ready flayed in a sled. They prefer it before other flesh, because the meate is stronger (as they say) then Beefe, Mutton, and such like. And yet (which is marveile) though they serve all as horsemen in the warres, and eate all of horse flesh, there are brought yeerely to the Mosco to bee exchanged for other commodities 30. or 40. thousand Tartar horse, which they call Cones. They keepe also great heards of kine, & flocks of blacke sheepe, rather for the skins and milke (which they carie with them in great bottels) then for the use of the flesh, though sometimes they eate of it. Some use they have of ryse, figs, and other fruits. They drinke milke or warme blood, and for the most part card them both together. They use sometime as they travel by the way, to let their horse blood in a vaine, and to drinke it warme, as it commeth from his bodie.

Townes they plant none, nor other standing buildings, but have walking houses, which the latines call Veii , built upon wheeles like a shepheards cottage. These they drawe with them whithersoever they goe, driving their cattell with them. And when they come to their stage, or standing place, they plant their carte houses verie orderly in a ranke: and so make the forme of streetes, and of a large towne. And this is the manner of the Emperor himselfe, who hath no other seat of Empire but an Agora, or towne of wood, that moveth with him whithersoever hee goeth. As for the fixed and standing building used in other countreyes, they say they are unwholesome and unpleasant.

They begin to moove their houses and cattell in the Spring time from the South part of their Countrey towards the North partes. And so driving on till they have grased all up to the farthest part Northward, they returne backe againe towards their South countrey (where they continue all the Winter) by 10. or 12. miles a stage: in the meane while the grasse being sprung up againe, to serve for their cattell as they returne. From the border of the Shalcan towards the Caspian sea, to the Russe frontiers, they have a goodly Countrey, specially on the South and Southeast parts, but lost for lacke of tillage.

Of money they have no use at all, and therefore prefer brasse and steele before other mettals, specially bullate, which they use for swordes, knives, and other necessaries. As for golde and silver they neglect it of very purpose, (as they doe all tillage of their ground) to bee more free for their wandring kinde of life, and to keepe their Countrey lesse subject to invasions. Which giveth them great advantage against all their neighbors, ever invading and never beeing invaded. Such as have taken upon them to invade their Countrey (as of oldetime Cyrus and Darius Hystaspis, on the East and Southeast side) have done it with very ill successe: as wee finde in the stories written of those times. For their manner is when any will invade them, to allure and drawe them on by flying and reculing (as if they were afraide) till they have drawen them some good way within their countrey. Then when they begin to want victuall and other necessaries (as needes they must where nothing is to be had) to stoppe up the passages, and inclose them with multitudes. By which stratagem (as wee reade in Laonicus Chalcacondylas in his Turkish storie) they had welnigh surprised the great and huge armie of Tamerlan, but that hee retired with all speede hee could towardes the river Tanais or Don, not without great losse of his men, and cariages.

In the storie of Pachymerius the Greeke (which hee wrote of the Emperors of Constantinople from the beginning of the reigne of Michael Palaeologus to the time of Andronicus the elder) I remember he telleth to the same purpose of one Nogas a Tartarian captaine under Cazan the Emperor of the East Tartars (of whom the citie and kingdome of Cazan may seeme to have taken the denomination) who refused a present of Pearle and other jewels sent unto him from Michael Palaeologus: asking withall, for what use they served, and whether they were good to keepe away sicknesse, death, or other misfortunes of this life, or no. So that it seemeth they have ever, or long time bene of that minde to value things no further, then by the use and necessitie for which they serve.

For person and complexion they have broade and flatte visages, of a tanned colour into yellowe and blacke, fierce and cruell lookes, thinne haired upon the upper lippe, and pitte of the chinne, light and nimble bodied, with short legges, as if they were made naturally for horsemen: whereto they practise themselves from their childhood, seldome going afoot about anie businesse. Their speech is verie sudden and loude, speaking as it were out of a deepe hollowe throate. When they sing you would thinke a kowe lowed, or some great bandogge howled. Their greatest exercise is shooting, wherein they traine up their children from their verie infancie, not suffering them to eate till they have shot neere the marke within a certaine scantling. They are the very same that sometimes were called Scythae Nomades, or the Scythian shepheards, by the Greekes and Latines. Some thinke that the Turks took their beginning from the nation of the Crim Tartars. Of which opinion is Laonicus Calcocondylas the Greek Historiographer, in his first booke of his Turkish storie. Wherein hee followeth divers verie probable conjectures. The first taken from the verie name it selfe, for that the worde Turk signifieth a Shepheard or one that followeth a vagarant and wilde kinde of life. By which name these Scythian Tartars have ever beene noted, being called by the Greekes o-Kv4aLvo/ma8& or the Scythian shepheards. His second reason because the Turkes (in his time) that dwelt in Asia the lesse, to wit, in Lydia , Caria , Phrygia and Cappadocia , spake the very same language that these Tartars did, that dwelt betwixt the river Tanais or Don, and the countrey of Sarmatia , which (as is well knowen) are these Tartars called Crims. At this time also the whole nation of the Turkes differ not much in their common speech from the Tartar language. Thirdly because the Turke and the Crim Tartar agree so well together, as well in religion, as in matter of traffique never invading, or inurying one another: save that the Turke (since Laonicus his time) hath encroched upon some Townes upon the Euxin Sea, that before perteined to the Crim Tartar. Fourthly, because Ortogules sonne to Oguzalpes, and father to Otoman the first of name of the Turkish nation made his first roads out of those parts of Asia, upon the next borderers, till hee came towardes the countreys about the hill Taurus, where hee overcame the Greekes that inhabited there: and so enlarged the name and territorie of the Turkish nation, till hee came to Eubaea and Attica , and other partes of Greece . This is the opinion of Laonicus, who lived among the Turkes in the time of Amurat the sixt Turkish Emperour, about the yeere 1400. when the memorie of their originall was more fresh: and therefore the likelier hee was to hit the trueth.

There are divers other Tartars that border upon Russia , as the Nagayes, the Cheremissens, the Mordwites, the Chircasses, and the Shalcans, which all differ in name more then in regiment, or other condition, from the Crim Tartar, except the Chircasses that border Southwest towardes Lituania , and are farre more civill than the rest of the Tartars, of a comely person, and of a stately behaviour, as applying themselves to the fashion of the Polonian. Some of them have subjected themselves to the Kings of Poland , and professe Christianitie. The Nagay lieth Eastwarde, and is reckoned for the best man of warre among all the Tartars, but verie savage, and cruell above all the rest. The Cheremessen Tartar, that lieth betwixt the Russe and the Nagay, are of two sorts, the Lugavoy (that is of the valley) and the Nagornay, or of the hilly countrey. These have much troubled the Emperours of Russia . And therefore they are content now to buy peace of them, under pretence of giving a yeerely pension of Russe commodities to their Morseys, or Divoymorseis, that are chiefe of their tribes. For which also they are bound to serve them in their wars, under certaine conditions. They are said to be just and true in their dealings: and for that cause they hate the Russe people, whom they account to be double, and false in al their dealing. And therefore the common sort are very unwilling to keepe agreement with them, but that they are kept in by their Morsels, or Dukes for their pensions sake.

The most rude & barbarous is counted the Mordwit Tartar, that hath many selfe-fashions and strange kinds of behaviour, differing from the rest. For his religion, though he acknowledge one God, yet his maner is to worship for God, that living thing yt he first meeteth in the morning, & to sweare by it all that whole day, whether it be horse, dog, cat, or whatsoever els it bee. When his friend dieth, he killeth his best horse, and having flayed off the skinne hee carieth it on high upon a long pole before the corpes to the place of buriall. This hee doeth (as the Russe saieth) that his friend may have a good horse to care him to heaven: but it is likelier to declare his love towards his dead friend, in that he will have to die with him the best thing that he hath.

Next to the kingdome of Astracan, that is the farthest part Southeastward of the Russe dominion, lyeth the Shalcan, and the countrey of Media: whither the Russe marchants trade for rawe silkes, syndon, saphion, skinnes, and other commodities. The chiefe Townes of Media where the Russe tradeth, are Derbent (built by Alexander the great, as the inhabitants say) and Zamachi where the staple is kept for rawe silkes. Their maner is in the Spring time to revive the silke-wormes (that lie dead all the Winter) by laying them in the warme sunne, and (to hasten their quickening that they may sooner goe to worke) to put them into bags, and so to hang them under their childrens armes. As for the woorme called Chrinisin (as wee call it Chrymson) that maketh coloured silke, it is bred not in Media, but in Assyria. This trade to Derbent and Samachi for rawe silkes, and other commodities of that Countrey, as also into Persia, and Bougharia downe the river of Volga, and through the Caspian sea, is permitted aswell to the English as to the Russe merchants, by the Emperours last grant at my being there. Which he accounteth for a very speciall favour, and might prove indeede very beneficial to our English merchants, if the trade were wel and orderly used.

The whole nation of the Tartars are utterly voide of all learning, and without written Law: yet certaine rules they have which they hold by tradition, common to all the Hoords for the practise of their life. Which are of this sort. First, To obey their Emperour and other Magistrates, whatsoever they commaund about the publike service. 2 Except for the publike behoofe, every man to be free and out of controlment. 3 No private man to possesse any lands, but the whole countrey to be as common. 4 To neglect all daintinesse and varietie of meates, and to content themselves with that which commeth next to hand, for more hardnesse, and readines in the executing of their affaires. 5 To weare any base attire, and to patch their clothes whether there be any neede or not: that when there is neede, it be no shame to weare a patcht coate. 6 To take or steale from any stranger whatsoever they can get, as beeing enemies to all men, save to such as will subject themselves to them. 7 Towards their owne hoorde and nation to be true in worde and deede. 8 To suffer no stranger to come within the Realme. If any doe, the same to be bondslave to him that first taketh him, except such merchants and other as have the Tartar Bull, or passport about them.

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