A DISCOURSEby@hakluyt


by Richard Hakluyt March 20th, 2023
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Of the honourable receiving into England of the first Ambassador from the Emperor of Russia, in the year of Christ 1556, and in the third year of the reign of Queen Mary, serving for the third voyage to Moscow.—Registered by Master John Incent, Protonotarie.
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The Discovery of Muscovy by Richard Hakluyt is part of the HackerNoon Books Series. You can jump to any chapter in this book here. A DISCOURSE


Of the honourable receiving into England of the first Ambassador from the Emperor of Russia, in the year of Christ 1556, and in the third year of the reign of Queen Mary, serving for the third voyage to Moscow.—Registered by Master John Incent, Protonotarie.

It is here recorded by writing and authentical testimony, partly for memory of things done and partly for the verity to be known to posterity in time to come, that whereas the Most High and Mighty Ivan Vasivilich, Emperor of all Russia, Great Duke of Volidemer, Muscovy and Novogrode, Emperor of Cassan and of Astrachan, Lord of Piskie, and Great Duke of Smolenski, Tverski, Yowgoriski, Permiski, Viatski, Boligarski, and Sibieriski, Emperor and Great Duke of many others, as Novogrode in the Nether Countries, Charnogoski, Rizanski, Volodski, Rezewski, Bielski, Rostoski, Yeraslavski, Bialazarski, Woodarski, Opdorski, Condinski, and many other countries, and lord over all those parts in the year of our Lord God ensuing, the account of the Latin Church, 1556, sent by the sea from the Port of St. Nicholas, in Russia, his Right honourable Ambassador, surnamed Osepp Napea, his high officer in the town and country of Vologhda, to the most famous and excellent Princes, Philip and Mary, by the grace of God King and Queen of England, Spain, France, and Ireland, Defenders of the Faith, Archdukes of Austria, Dukes of Burgundy, Milan, and Brabant, counties of Hasburge, Flanders, and Tyrol, his ambassador and orator, with certain letters tenderly conceived, together with certain presents and gifts mentioned in the foot of this memorial, as a manifest argument and token of a mutual amity and friendship to be made and continued between their Majesties and subjects respectively, for the commodity and benefit of both the realms and people; which orator was the 20th day of July embarked and shipped in and upon a good English ship named the Edward Bonaventura, belonging to the Governor, Consuls, and company of English merchants, Richard Chanceler being grand pilot, and John Buckland master of the said ship, in which was laden, at the adventure of the aforesaid ambassador and merchants, at several accounts, goods and merchandise, viz., in wax, train oil, tallow, furs, felts, yarn, and such-like, to the sum of 20,000 li. sterling, together with sixteen Russians, attendant upon the person of the said ambassador—over and above ten other Russians shipped within the said Bay of St. Nicholas in one other good ship, to the said company also belonging, called the Bona Speranza, with goods of the said orators and merchants to the value of 6,000 li. sterling as by the invoices and letters of lading of the said several ships (whereunto relation is to be had) particularly appeareth; which good ships, coming in good order into the seas, and traversing the same in their journey towards the coast of England, were by contrary winds and extreme tempest of weather severed the one from the other; that is to say, the said Bona Speranza, with two other English ships, also appertaining to the said company, the one surnamed the Philip and Mary, the other the Confidentia, were driven on the coast of Norway into Drenton Water, where the said Confidentia was seen to perish on a rock, and the other, videlicet the Bona Speranza, with her whole company, being to the number of four-and-twenty persons, seemed to winter there, whereof no certainty at this present day is known.  The third, videlicet the Philip and Mary, arrived in the Thames nigh London the eighteenth day of April, in the year of our Lord 1557.  The Edward Bonaventura, traversing the seas for months, finally, the tenth day of November, of the aforesaid year of our Lord 1556, arrived within the Scottish coast in a bay named Pettislego, where, by outrageous tempests and extreme storms, the said ship, being beaten from her ground tackles, was driven upon the rocks on shore, where she broke and split in pieces; in such sort as the grand pilot, using all carefulness for the safety of the body of the ambassador and his train, taking the boat of the said ship, trusting to attain the shore and so to save and preserve the body, and seven of the company or attendants of the said ambassador, the same boat by rigorous waves of the seas was by dark night overwhelmed and drowned, wherein perished, not only the body of the said grand pilot, with seven Russians, but also divers of the mariners of the said ship; the noble personage of the said ambassador, with a few others (by God’s preservation and special favour), only with much difficulty saved.  In which shipwreck, not only the said ship was broken, but also the whole mass and body of the goods laden in her was, by the rude and ravenous people of the country thereunto adjoining, rifled, spoiled, and carried away, to the manifest loss and utter destruction of all the lading of the said ship, and together with the ship, apparel, ordnance, and furniture, belonging to the company, in value of £1,000 of all, which was not restored towards the costs and charges to the sum of 500 li. sterling.

As soon as by letters addressed to the said company, and in London delivered the 6th of December last past, it was to them certainly known of the loss of their pilot, men, goods, and ship, the same merchants with all celerity and expedition obtained, not only the Queen’s Majesty’s most gracious and favourable letters to the Lady Dowager and Lords of the Council of Scotland for the gentle comfortment and entertainment of the said ambassador, his train and company, with preservation and restitution of his goods, as in such miserable cases to Christian pity, princely honour, and mere justice appertaineth, but also addressed two gentlemen of good learning, bravity, and estimation, videlicet Master Lawrence Hussie, Doctor of the Civil Law, and George Gilpin, with money and other requisites, into the realm of Scotland, to comfort, aid, assist, and relieve him and his there, and also to conduct the ambassador into England, sending with them by post a talmack or speechman, for the better furniture of the service of the said ambassador, trusting thereby to have the more ample and speedy redress of restitution; which personages, using diligence, arrived at Edinburgh (where the Queen’s Court was) the three-and-twentieth day of the said month of December, who, first visiting the said ambassador, declaring the causes of their coming and commission, showing the letters addressed in his favour, the order given them for his solace and furniture of all such things as he would have, together with their daily and ready service to attend upon his person and affairs, repaired consequently to the Dowager Queen, delivering the letters.

Whereupon they received gentle answers with hope and comfort of speedy restitution of the goods, apparel, jewels, and letters; for the more apparance whereof the Queen sent first certain commissioners with a herald of arms to Pettislego, the place of the shipwreck, commanding by proclamation and other edicts all such persons (no degree excepted) as had any part of such goods as were spoiled and taken out or from the ship, to bring them in, and to restore the same with such further order as Her Grace by advice of her council thought expedient; by reason whereof, not without great labours, pains, and charges, (after a long time) divers small parcels of wax, and other small trifling things of no value, were by the poorer sort of the Scots brought to the commissioners; but the jewels, rich apparel, presents, gold, silver, costly furs, and such-like, were conveyed away, concealed, and utterly embezzled.  Whereupon the Queen, at the request of the said ambassador, caused divers persons, to the number of one hundred and eighty or more, to be called personally before her princely presence to answer to the said spoil, and really to exhibit and bring in all such things as were spoiled and violently taken, and carried out of the same, whereof not only good testimony by writing was shown, but also the things themselves found in the hands of the Scottish subjects, who by subtle and crafty dealings, by connivance of the commissioners, so used (or rather abused) themselves towards the same orator and his attendants, that in effectual restitution was made; but he, wearied with daily attendance and charges, the 14th day of February next ensuing, distrusting any real and effectual rendering of the said goods and merchandises and other the premises, upon leave obtained of the said Queen, departed towards England, having attending upon him the said two English gentlemen and others (leaving, nevertheless, in Scotland three Englishmen to pursue the delivery of such things as were collected to have been sent by ship to him into England, which being in April next, and not before, embarked for London, was not at this present day here arrived), came the 18th day of February to Barwike (Berwick) within the dominion and realm of England, where he was by the Queen’s Majesty’s letters and commandment honourably received, used, and entertained by the Right Honourable Lord Wharton, Lord Warden of the East Marches, with goodly conducting from place to place as the daily journeys done ordinarily did lie, in such order, manner, and form as to a personage of such estate appertaineth.  He, prosecuting his voyage until the 27th of February, approached the City of London within twelve English miles, where he was received with fourscore merchants with chains of gold and goodly apparel, as well in order of men-servants in one uniform livery, as also in and upon good horses and geldings, who conducting him to a merchant’s house four miles from London, received there a quantity of gold, velvet, and silk, with all furniture thereunto requisite, wherewith he made him a riding garment, reposing himself that night.  The next day being Saturday, and the last day of February, he was by the merchants adventuring for Russia, to the number of one hundred and forty persons, and so many or more servants in one livery as above said, conducted towards the City of London, where by the way he had not only the hunting of the fox and such-like sport shown him, but also by the Queen’s Majesty’s commandment was received and embraced by the Right Honourable Viscount Montagu, sent by her Grace for his entertainment.  He being accompanied with divers lusty knights, esquires, gentlemen, and yeomen to the number of three hundred horses, led him to the north parts of the City of London, where by four notable merchants, rich apparelled, was presented to him a right fair and large gelding, richly trapped, together with a foot-cloth of Orient crimson velvet, enriched with gold laces, all furnished in most glorious fashion, of the present and the gift of the said merchants; whereupon the ambassador at instant desire mounted, riding on the way towards Smithfield Bars, the first limits of the liberties of the City of London.  The Lord Mayor, accompanied with all the aldermen in their scarlet, did receive him; and so riding through the City of London in the middle between the said Lord Mayor and Viscount Montagu, a great number of merchants and notable personages riding before, and a large troop of servants and apprentices following, was conducted through the City of London (with great admiration and plausibility of the people, running plentifully on all sides, and replenishing all streets in such sort as no man without difficulty might pass) into his lodging situate in Fant Church (Fenchurch) Street, where were provided for him two chambers richly hung and decked over and above the gallant furniture of the whole house, together with an ample and rich cupboard of plate of all sorts, to furnish and serve him at all meals and other services during his abode in London, which was, as is under-written, until the third day of May; during which time, daily, divers aldermen and the gravest personages of the said company did visit him, providing all kinds of victuals for his table and his servants, with all sorts of officers to attend upon him in good sort and condition, as to such an ambassador of honour doth and ought to appertain.

It is also to be remembered that, at his first entrance into his chamber, there was presented unto him on the Queen’s Majesty’s behalf for a gift and present, and his better furniture in apparel, one rich piece of cloth of tissue, a piece of cloth of gold, another piece of cloth of gold raised with crimson velvet, a piece of crimson velvet ingrained, a piece of purple velvet, a piece of damask purpled, a piece of crimson damask, which he most thankfully accepted.  In this beautiful lodging, refreshing and preparing himself and his train with things requisite, he abode expecting the King’s Majesty’s repair out of Flanders into England; whose Highness arriving the one-and-twentieth of March, the same ambassador the five-and-twentieth of March, being the Annunciation of Our Lady (the day twelvemonth he took his leave from the Emperor his master), was most honourably brought to the King’s and Queen’s Majesty’s Court at Westminster, where, accompanied first with the said viscount and other notable personages and the merchants, he arriving at Westminster Bridge, was there received with six lords, conducted into a stately chamber, where by the Lords Chancellor, Treasurer, Privy Seal, Admiral, Bishop of Ely, and other councillors, he was visited and saluted; and consequently was brought unto the King’s and Queen’s Majesty’s presence, sitting under a stately cloth of honour, the chamber most richly decked and furnished, and most honourably presented.  Where, after that he had delivered his letters, made his oration, given two timber of sables, and the report of the same both in English and Spanish, in most loving manner embraced, was with much honour and high entertainment, in sight of a great confluence of people, lords and ladies, soon after remitted by water to his former lodging, to the which, within two days after, by assignment of the King’s and Queen’s Majesties, repaired and conferred with him secretly two grave councillors—that is, the Lord Bishop of Ely and Sir William Peter Knight, Chief Secretary to their Highnesses, who, after divers secret talks and conference, reported to their Highnesses their proceedings, the gravity, wisdom, and stately behaviour of the said ambassador, in such sort as was much to their Majesties’ satisfaction.

Finally, concluding upon such treaties and articles of amity as the letters of the King’s and Queen’s Majesties most graciously, under the Great Seal of England, to him by the said councillors delivered, doth appear.

The four-and-twentieth of April, being the Feast of St. George wherein was celebrated the solemnity of the Noble Order of the Gaiter at Westminster, the same lord ambassador was soon after required to have an audience; and therefore conducted from the said lodging to the Court by the Right Noble the Lords Talbot and Lumley to their Majesties’ presence, where (after his oration made, and thanks both given and received) he most honourably took his leave, with commendations to the Emperor, which being done, he was with special honour led unto the chapel, where, before the King and Queen’s Majesties, in sight of the whole Order of the Garter, was prepared for him a stately seat, wherein he, accompanied with the Duke of Norfolk, the lords last above mentioned, and many other honourable personages, was present at the whole service, in ceremonies which were to him most acceptable.  The divine service ended, he was quickly remitted and reduced to his barge, and so repaired to his lodgings in like order and gratulation of the people universally as before.

The time of the year hasting the departure of the ambassador, the merchants having prepared four goodly and well-trimmed ships laden with all kinds of merchandise apt for Russia, the same ambassador making provision for such things as him pleased, the same ships in good order valed (sailed?) down the river of Thames from London to Gravesend, where the same ambassador, with his train and furniture, was embarked towards his voyage homeward, which Cod prosper in all felicity.

It is also to be remembered that during the whole abode of the said ambassador in England the agents of the said merchants did not only prosecute and pursue the matter of restitution in Scotland, and caused such things to be laden in an English ship hired purposely to convey the ambassador’s goods to London, there to be delivered to him, but also, during his abode in London, did both invite him to the mayor and divers worshipful men’s houses, feasting and banqueting him right friendly, showing unto him the most notable and commendable sights of London, as the King’s Palace and house, the Churches of Westminster and Paul’s, the Tower and Guild Hall of London, and such-like memorable spectacles.  And, also, the said nine-and-twentieth day of April the said merchants, assembling themselves together in the house of the Drapers’ Hall of London, exhibited and gave unto the said ambassador a notable supper garnished with music, interludes, and banquets, in the which a cup of wine being drunk to him in the name and lieu of the whole company, it was signified to him that the whole company, with most liberal and friendly hearts, did frankly give to him and his all manner of costs and charges and victuals, riding from Scotland to London during his abode there, and until setting of sail aboard the ship, requesting him to accept the same in good part, as a testimony and witness of their good hearts, zeal, and tenderness towards him and his country.

It is to be considered that of the Bona Speranza no word nor knowledge was had at this present day, nor yet of the arrival of the ships or goods from Scotland.

The third of May the ambassador departed from London to Gravesend, accompanied with divers aldermen and merchants, who in good guard set him aboard the noble ship the Primrose, admiral to the fleet, where leave was taken on both sides and parts, after many embracements and divers farewells, not without expressing of tears.

Memorandum, that the first day of May the councillors, videlicet the Bishop of Ely and Sir William Peter, on behalf of the King’s and Queen’s Majesties, repairing to the Lord Ambassador, did not only deliver unto him their Highnesses’ letters of recommendation under the Great Seal of England to the Emperor, very tenderly and friendly written, but also, on their Majesties’ behalf, gave and delivered certain notable presents to the Emperor’s person, and also gifts for the Lord Ambassador’s proper use and behoof, as by the particulars under-written appeareth, with such further good words and commendations as the more friendly have not been heard; whereby it appeareth how well affected their honours be to have and continue amity and traffic between their honours and their subjects; which thing as the King’s and Queen’s Majesties have shown of their princely munificences and liberalities, so have likewise the merchants and fellowship of the adventurers for and to Russia manifested to the world their good-wills, minds, and zeals borne to this new-commenced voyage, as by the discourse above mentioned, and other the notable acts overlong to be recited in this present memorial, doth and may most clearly appear, the like whereof is not in any precedent or history to be shown.

Forasmuch as it may be doubted how the ship named the Edward Bonaventura received shipwreck, what became of the goods, how much they were spoiled and detained, how little restored, what charges and expenses ensued, what personages were drowned, how the rest of the ships either arrived or perished, or how the disposition of Almighty God had wrought His pleasure in them; how the same ambassador hath been after the miserable case of shipwreck in Scotland irreverently abused, and consequently into England received and conducted, there entertained, used, honoured, and, finally, in good safety towards his return and repair furnished, and with much liberality and frank handling friendly dismissed, to the intent that the truth of the premises may be to the Most Mighty Emperor of Russia sincerely signified in eschewment of all events and misfortunes that may chance in this voyage (which God defend!) to the ambassador’s person, train, and goods, this present memorial is written and authentically made, and by the said ambassador, his servants whose names be under-written, and train, in presence of the notary, and witnesses under-named, recognised, and acknowledged.  Given the day, month, and year under-written, of which instrument into every of the said ships one testimonial is delivered, and the first remaineth with the said company in London.


Gifts sent to the King and Queen’s Majesties of England by the Emperor of Russia, by the report of the Ambassador, and spoiled by the Scots after the Shipwreck.

1.  First, six timber of sables rich in colour and hair.

2.  Item, twenty entire sables exceeding beautiful with teeth, ears, and claws.

3.  Item, four living sables with chains and collars.

4.  Item, thirty Lausannes large and beautiful.

5.  Item, six large and great skins, very rich and rare, worn only by the Emperor for worthiness.

6.  Item, a large and fair white Jerfawcon, for the wild swan, crane, goose, and other great fowls.  Together with a drum of silver, the hoops gilt, used for a lure to call the said hawk.


Gifts sent to the Emperor of Russia by the King and Queen’s Majesties of England.

1.  First, two rich pieces of cloth of tissue.

2.  Item, one fine piece of scarlet.

3.  Item, one fine violet in grain.

4.  Item, one fine azure cloth.

5.  Item, a notable pair of brigandines, with a murrian covered with crimson velvet and gilt nails.

6.  Item, a male and female lions.


Gifts given to the Ambassador at his Departure, over and above such as were delivered unto him at his first Arrival.

1.  First, a chain of gold of one hundred pound.

2.  Item, a large basin and ewer, silver and gilt.

3.  Item, a pair of pottle pots gilt.

4.  Item, a pair of flagons gilt.

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