In the Lands of the Romanovs: An Annotated Bibliography of First-hand English-language Accounts of the Russian Empire (1613-1917)/Reigns of Peter I (1682-1725) and Catherine I (1725-1727)

2. REIGNS OF PETER I (1682-1725), including joint reign with IVAN V (1682-1696) and regency of SOPHIA (1686-1689), and CATHERINE I (1725-1727) edit

Fig. 32 Peter the Great (1698), by Godfrey Kneller. Oil on canvas. Royal Collection.
Fig. 33 Catherine I (1717), by Jean-Marc Nattier. Oil on canvas. Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg.

See also: A7

B1 edit

Avril, Philippe, Travels into divers parts of Europe and Asia, undertaken by the French king’s order to discover a new way by land into China, containing many curious remarks in natural philosophy, geography, hydrography, and history. Together with a description of Great Tartary, and of the different people who inhabit there. Done out of French. London: Tim. Goodwin, 1693. 2 vols.

The Jesuit missionary Avril (1654-98) with his companion Father Barbary, “disguis’d as Georgians”, left Erevan on 23 April 1686 and travelled from Astrakhan up the Volga to Saratov and then to Moscow. They were in Warsaw early in 1687 but were once again in Moscow at the time of Peter I’s first wedding (January 1689). Gathering information about trade routes to China, they seem to have travelled as far as the Chinese border. The account, designed to provide useful information for Jesuit missionaries, is divided into five “books”, Armenia, (vol. I, pp. 1-63) Tartary (I, pp. 65-136), routes through Siberia to China (I, pp. 137-91), Muscovy (II, pp. 1-80) and Moldavia (II, pp. 81-132).

B2 edit

C., T., The new atlas, or, travels and voyages in Europe, Asia, Africa and America, thro’ the most renowned parts of the world, viz. from England to the Dardanelles, thence to Constantinople, Egypt, Palestine, or the Holy Land, Syria, Mesopotamia, Chaldea, Persia, East-India, China, Tartary, Muscovy, and by Poland, the German empire, Flanders and Holland, to Spain and the West-Indies; with a brief account of Ethiopia, and the pilgrimage to Mecha and Medina in Arabia, containing what is rare and worthy of remarks in those vast countries; relating to buildings, antiquities, religion, manners, customs, princes, courts, or affairs, military and civil, or whatever else of any kind is worthy of note. Performed by an English gentleman, in nine years travel and voyages, more exact than ever. London: J. Cleave and A. Roper, 1698. viii+236pp.

The author, signing himself “T.C” in a preface in which he mentions the recently completed embassy of Peter I, left London on 30 April 1684 for Constantinople. After travelling extensively through Egypt, Persia, India, China, and Tartary, he eventually (c.1687 or later) reached Astrakhan, which he describes in some detail. He then travelled up the Volga via Nizhnii Novgorod to Moscow, where he remained for some time, before visiting Novgorod, Vologda, Vladimir and Rostov, and departing via Poland (pp. 168-86).

B3 edit

Gerbillon, Jean François, ‘Travels into Tartary by P. Gerbillon, Jesuit, and French missionary in China’. In Jean-Baptiste Du Halde, A description of the empire of China and Chinese-Tartary, together with the kingdoms of Korea, and Tibet: containing the geography and history (natural as well as civil) of those countries. From the French [by Richard Brookes]. London: printed by T. Gardner for Edward Cave, 1738-41. 2 vols. [vol. II: printed by Edward Cave.]

Father Gerbillon, a French Jesuit missionary at the Chinese court, undertook eight journeys into Tartary between 1688 and 1698, the last six in the retinue of the emperor. It is, however, the first two journeys (May 1688-June 1689 and June 1689-May 1690) that are of particular Russian interest, when he accompanied as interpreter the Chinese ambassadors sent to negotiate the treaty of Nerchinsk (1689). In 1688 he visited the border town of Selinginsk and reached Lake Baikal (vol. II, pp. 273-333). The French original, Description geographique, historique…, was published in Paris in 1735.

B4 edit

La Neuville, Foy de, An account of Muscovy, as it was in the year 1689. In which the troubles that happen’d in that empire from the present Czar Peter’s election to the throne, to his being firmly settled in it, are particularly related. With a character of him, and his people. London: Edward Castle, 1699. 119pp.

La Neuville left Warsaw on 19 July 1689 as Polish envoy extraordinary but had returned by the beginning of 1690, having failed to secure an audience with the Tsars Ivan and Peter in Moscow (pp. 1-19). The rest of the book is devoted to events that had happened before his visit, e.g. the regency of Sophia, the Crimean campaign, as well as an essay on the Muscovites, “barbarians, suspicious and mistrustful, cruel, sodomites, gluttons, covetous, beggars and cowards”.

B5 edit

La Neuville, Foy de, A curious and new account of Muscovy in the year 1689. Edited and introduced by Lindsey Hughes. Translated from the French by J.A. Cutshall. London: School of Slavonic and East European Studies, 1994. xxxvi+78pp.

A carefully edited and newly translated version of the Paris edition of 1698, Relation curieuse et nouvelle de Moscovie (pp. 1-72).

B6 edit

Ides, Evert Ysbrants, Three years travels from Moscow over-land to China: through Great Ustiga, Siriania, Permia, Siberia, Daour, Great Tartary, &c. to Peking. Containing an exact and particular description of the extent and limit of those countries, and the customs of the barbarous inhabitants, with reference to their religion, government, marriages, daily imployments, habits, habitations, diet, death, funerals, &c. Written by his excellency E. Ysbrants Ides, ambassador from the Czar of Muscovy to the Emperor of China. London: printed for W. Freeman, J. Walthoe, T. Newborough, J. Nicholson, and R. Parker, 1706. x+210pp.

The embassy, headed by Ides, an experienced Danish diplomat, left Moscow on 14 March 1692 and arrived at the Chinese border on 11 September 1693 (pp. 1-51). It began its return journey on 19 February 1694 and reached Moscow on 1 January 1695 (pp. 81-107). Pp. 11-210 are devoted to ‘a short description of China by a Chinese’.

B7 edit

Brand, Adam, A journal of an embassy from their majesties John and Peter Alexievitz, emperors of Muscovy, &c. over land into China through the provinces of Ustiugha, Siberia, Dauri, and the Great Tartary, to Peking, the capital city of the Chinese Empire. By Everard Isbrand, their ambassador in the years 1693, 1694, and 1695. Written by Adam Brand, secretary of the embassy. Translated from the original in High-Dutch, printed at Hamburgh, 1698. To which is added, Curious observations concerning the products of Russia, by H[einrich] W[ilhelm] Ludolf. London: D. Brown, T. Goodwin, 1698. 134pp.

The account of the Dutch secretary to Ides’s embassy appeared in English eight years before the ambassador’s. The interesting addition (pp. 119-34), given a separate title-page, is from the Latin of Ludolf (1655-1710), author of the Grammatica russica, published in Oxford in 1696, and is based on his own experiences in Russia as well as his reading.

B8 edit

Allison, Thomas, An account of a voyage from Archangel in Russia, in the year 1697. Of the ship and company wintering near the North Cape in the latitude of 71. Their manner of living, and what they suffered by the extream cold. Also remarkable observations of the climate, country and inhabitants. Together with a chart, describing the place where they lay, land in view, soundings, &c. London: printed for D. Brown and R. Parker, 1699. 112pp.

The ship’s log of Allison, master of the Ann of Yarmouth, sailing from Archangel on 8 October 1697 and reaching Gravesend on 24 April 1698. Dedicated to the governor and consuls of the Russia Company, the book is trailed by the booksellers for its simple truth and “watry language” (a mariner’s technical term)!

B9 edit

Deane, John, A letter from Moscow to the Marquess of Carmarthen, relating to the Czar of Muscovy’s forwardness in his great navy &c. since his return home. London: published by his lordship’s permission, 1699. Single folio sheet.

Son of Sir Anthony Deane, Charles II’s eminent shipbuilder, John Deane (d. 1699) was recruited by Peter I during his visit to London. His letter, dated 8 March 1698/99, to Carmarthen, who had recommended him to the tsar, describes the state of the Russian navy after a visit to Voronezh.

B10 edit

Perry, John, The state of Russia, under the present czar. In relation to the several great and remarkable things he has done, as to his naval preparations, the regulating his army, the reforming his people, and improvement of his countrey. Particularly those works on which the author was employ’d, with the reasons of his quitting the czar’s service, after having been fourteen years in that countrey. London: Benjamin Tooke, 1716. vi+280pp.

Captain Perry (1670-1732) was recruited during Peter I’s visit to London in 1698 on a ten-year contract as a hydraulic engineer. He worked on various canal projects to link the Volga and the Don and Petersburg and the Volga. He returned to England in 1712, securing his release only with the greatest difficulty. The account of his experiences in Russia combines a fervent admiration of the tsar with strong condemnation of reactionary factions working against him. His book was one of the most influential of the period.

B11 edit

Korb, Johann Georg, Diary of an Austrian secretary of legation at the court of Czar Peter the Great. Translated from the original Latin and edited by the Count Mac Donnell. London: Bradbury & Evans, 1863. 2 vols.

Korb (1670-1741) accompanied the embassy of the Austrian ambassador Ignaz von Guarient und Rall that set out from Vienna on 10 January 1699, reaching Smolensk on 9 April and Moscow on 29 April. They left Moscow on the return journey on 23 July (vol. I, pp. 51-299; II, pp. 1-53). Notable for the “compendious description” of the revolt and suppression of the Streltsy (vol. II, pp. 69-121). The rare Latin original, Diarium itineris in Moscoviam was published in Vienna in 1700.

B12 edit

‘Gentleman of Germany’, ‘A letter, from a certain gentleman of Germany, written from Musco concerning the siege of Asoph, and Kasikermeen, and the other warlike exploits of the Muscovites in that war, with some political remarks upon the most remarkable passages that have happened of late in the Muscovite empire, translated from the low Dutch.’ In John Harris, Navigantium atque itinerantium bibliotheca: or, a compleat collection of voyages and travels. London: printed for Thomas Bennet, John Nicholson, and Daniel Midwinter, 1705. 2 vols.

An intriguing piece which is tacked on to the account of the unnamed Foy de la Neuville and is possibly by “the sieur Newstad” whose promised offering on “the present state of Muscovy” is otherwise not included. It indeed describes the state of Muscovy from the time of Alexis, then Peter’s campaign at Azov, before switching to the Grand Embassy, of which he says he was an eye-witness, and the destruction of the Streltsy (vol. II, pp. 223-28).

B13 edit

Bruyn, Cornelis de, Travels into Muscovy, Persia, and part of the East Indies Containing, An accurate description of whatever is most remarkable in those countries. And embellished with above 320 copper plates, representing the finest prospects, and most considerable cities in those parts; the different habits of the people; the singular and extraordinary birds, fishes, and plants which are there to be found: As likewise the antiquities of those countries, and particularly the noble ruins of the famous palace of Persepolis, called Chelminar by the Persians. The whole being delineated on the spot, from the respective objects. By M. Cornelius Le Bruyn. To which is added, an account of the journey of Mr. Isbrants, ambassador from Muscovy, through Russia and Tartary, to China; together with remarks on the travels of Sir John Chardin, and Mr Kempfer, and a letter written to the author on that subject. London: A. Bettesworth and C. Hitch, S.Birt, C. Davis, J. Clarke, S. Harding, D. Browne, A. Millar, J. Shukburgh, and T. Osborne, 1737. 2 vols.

The Dutch painter de Bruyn (otherwise de Bruijn, Le Brun, 1652-1727) left The Hague on 8 July 1701 and arrived in Archangel on 30 August. Gives detailed descriptions of the Samoeds and of Archangel and towns on the way to Moscow, where he arrived on 4 January 1702. Accompanied Peter to Voronezh, then returned to Moscow before eventually leaving Russia from Astrakhan in July 1703 en route to Paris (vol. I, pp. 1-95). On 4 July 1707 he again visited Astrakhan and travelled up the Volga to Moscow, where he met the tsar. He departed from Archangel on 23 August 1708 (vol. II, pp. 166-94). Translated from the French translation of the Dutch original.

B14 edit

Chancel, A.D., A new journey over Europe; from France thro’ Savoy, Switzerland, Germany, Flanders, Holland, Denmark, Swedland, Muscovy, Poland, Hungary, Styria, Carinthia, the Venetian Territories, Italy, Naples, Sicily, Genoa, Spain, Portugal, France, Great Britain, and Ireland; with several observations on the laws, religion, and government, &c. of each. Together with an account of the births and marriages of all the kings and princes of Europe from the year 1650. By a late traveller A.D. Chancel, M.A. London: for John Harding, 1714. xvi+264pp.

The Frenchman Chancel relates “nothing but what I have seen, or taken out from approved Travellers”, and it is from outdated accounts of others that he describes Muscovy, or rather, simply Moscow (pp. 62-4). He lists Peter’s half-sister Sophia, “of a masculine body and temper”, as still living (p. 250).

B15 edit

Whitworth, Charles, [‘Dispatches’]. In Sbornik russkogo imperatorskogo istoricheskogo obshchestva, vols. XXXIX, L, LXI. St Petersburg: Academy of Sciences, 1884, 1886, 1888. viii+496pp; xii+558pp; xi+610pp.

Whitworth, later Baron Whitworth (1675-1725) arrived in Moscow on 11 March (NS) 1705 as envoy extraordinary to attempt to regularize the affairs of the Russia Company. He was raised to ambassador extraordinary in 1709 in order to offer on behalf of Queen Anne apologies for the treatment of the Russian ambassador in London, A. A. Matveev, who had been thrown into a debtors’ prison. Whitworth left for England on 4 April 1710. After attending the tsar at Carlsbad in October 1711 he returned to St Petersburg on 31 January 1712, leaving finally at the end of June. During Whitworth’s absence in 1710-12 dispatches were sent to London by his secretary Ludwig Christoph Weisbrod, acting as British chargé d’affaires (vol. L, pp. 351-427; vol. LXI, pp. 40-1, 102-5, 108-28).
B16 edit

Whitworth, Charles, An account of Russia as it was in the year 1710. Twickenham: Strawberry Hill, 1758. xxiv+158pp.

On his return to England in April 1710 Whitworth wrote his account essentially as a government briefing document, giving particular attention to naval matters. It was only published nearly fifty years later by Horace Walpole at his famed press at Strawberry Hill and was often used as evidence of the state of contemporary, i.e. late Elizabethan, Russia (see D3).

B17 edit

Strahlenberg, Philipp Johann von, An historico-geographical description of the north and eastern parts of Europe and Asia; but more particularly of Russia, Siberia, and Great Tartary; both in their ancient and modern state: together with an entire new polyglot-table of the dialects of 32 Tartarian nations: and a vocabulary of the Kalmuck-Mungalian tongue. As also, a large and accurate map of those countries; and variety of cuts, representing Asiatik-Scythian antiquities. Written originally in High German by Mr. Philip John von Strahlenberg, a Swedish officer, thirteen years captive in those parts. Now faithfully translated into English. London: printed for W. Innys and R. Manby, 1738. xiv+463pp.

Captured at the battle of Poltava in 1709, the Swedish captain Strahlenberg (1676-1747) spent some thirteen years in Russia, principally in Siberia. His book, which first appeared in German in Stockholm in 1730, contains valuable geographical, ethnographical, and linguistic information about a vast region barely known in Europe and also an extensive chapter (pp. 233-72) on Peter I and his reign.
B18 edit

La Motraye, Aubry de, Travels through Europe, Asia, and into part of Africa; with proper cutts and maps. Containing a great variety of geographical, topographical, and political observations on those parts of the world; especially on Italy, Turky, Greece, Crim and Noghaian Tartaries, Circassia, Sweden, and Lapland. A curious collection of things particularly rare, both in nature and antiquity; such as remains of antient cities and colonies, inscriptions, idols, medals, minerals, &c. London: for the author, 1723. 2 vols.

La Mortraye (1674-1747) was in London during Peter’s visit but never entered Russian territory during the tsar’s lifetime. He sailed from London in November 1698 for Constantinople where he stayed for a number of years. After the outbreak of the Russo-Turkish war he paid his visit to the Crimea in 1711, visiting Ochakov, Bakhchiserai and Kaffa, and into Circassia and to the Volga estuary (vol. II, pp. 21-85).

B19 edit

Bruce, Peter Henry, Memoirs of Peter Henry Bruce, esq., a military officer, in the services of Prussia, Russia, and Great Britain. Containing an account of his travels in Germany, Russia, Tartary, Turkey, the West Indies, &c., as also, several very interesting private anecdotes of the Czar, Peter I, of Russia. London: Printed for the author’s widow, by T. Payne and Son, 1782. 446pp.

A Scottish soldier-of-fortune, Bruce (1692-1757) served in the Russian army from 1711 to 1724, was sent on an embassy to Constantinople and took part in the Derbent expedition (pp. 33-374). Before his death in Scotland he translated his diary from German (his first language) into English.

B20 edit

Mackenzie, George, and Jefferyes, James, [‘Dispatches’]. In Sbornik russkogo imperatorskogo istoricheskogo obshchestva, vol. LXI. St Petersburg: Academy of Sciences, 1888. xi+610pp.

In the years following Whitworth’s departure and the rupture in diplomatic relations in 1719, British representatives were given the rank of minister resident but resided for very short periods, if at all (James Haldane, for instance, appointed in September in 1716). Mackenzie arrived in St Petersburg on 28 September 1714 but left on 2 May 1715, whereas Captain Jefferyes, arriving on 12 January 1719, was obliged to retire to Dantzig on 15 October, after the tsar gave “me and the rest of the british nation sensible marks of his displeasure”. He left at the same time as the Hanoverian resident, F.C. Weber (see B22). Mackenzie’s dispatches are on pp. 258-380 and Jefferyes’s on pp. 451-590.

B21 edit

[Deane, John], History of the Russian fleet during the reign of Peter the Great by a contemporary Englishman (1724). Edited by Vice-Admiral Cyprian A.G. Bridge. London: for the Navy Records Society, 1899. xxvi+161pp.

Captain Deane (1680?-1761), who served in the Russian navy from 1712 until his dismissal in 1722, produced what is essentially a log of the movements of the Russian Baltic fleet until 1724. His identity was established on the basis of a signed copy of his manuscript, dedicated to George I, which contains further pages continuing his account up to 1725 (not included in 1899 edition). He had been sent back to Russia in June 1725 as British consul-general but was apprehended at Cronstadt and forced to return to England.

B22 edit

[Weber, Friedrich Christian], The present state of Russia. Being an account of the government of that country, both civil and ecclesiastical; of the Czar’s forces by sea and land, the regulation of his finances, the several methods he made use of to civilize his people and improve the country, his transactions with several eastern princes, and what happened most remarkable at his court, particularly in relation to the last Czarewitz, from the year 1714, to 1720. The whole being the journal of a foreign minister who resided in Russia at that time. With a description of Petersbourg and Cronslot, and several other pieces relating to the affairs of Russia. Translated from the High-Dutch. London: printed for W. Taylor, W. and J. Innys, and J. Osborn, 1722-23. 2 vols. [vol. II: 1722; vol. I: 1723].

Weber arrived in St Petersburg in February 1714 with a mission from the elector of Hanover (who became George I of England in August that year) and remained for five years as resident. He presented his work as a diary, sometimes revised with hindsight. His important account of St Petersburg (vol. I, pp. 293-352) was adapted from a German original of a few years earlier. Vol. II (which appeared a year earlier) contains various pieces including Lauren Lange’s journal of a journey from Petersburg to Peking in 1715-17 (pp. 3-43), the Swedish captain J.B. Müller’s description of the Ostiaks, written in Tobolsk in 1716 (pp. 37-92), and Cornelis de Bruyn’s ‘observations on Russia’, 1701-08 (pp. 371-432).

B23 edit

Bell, John, Travels from St. Petersburg in Russia, to diverse parts of Asia. Glasgow: printed for the author by Robert and Andrew Foulis; sold by R. & A. Foulis and A. Stalker at Glasgow; Kincaid & Bell at Edinburgh; A. Miller, J. Nourse, T. Becket & P.A. de Hondt, and C. Henderson in London; J. Leake, and J. Frederick at Bath; and T. Cadell at Bristol, 1763. 2 vols.

Bell (1691-1780) arrived in Russia in August 1714 and was soon enlisted as doctor to accompany an embassy to Persia, headed by A.P. Valenskii. It left St Petersburg in July 1715 and returned three years later (vol. I, pp. 1-154). In July 1719 he set off again with the embassy of L.V. Izmailov, which travelled through Siberia to arrive at the Chinese border at the end of September 1720 (vol. I, pp. 155-308). They left Pekin on the return journey in March 1721 and arrived in Moscow, where they reported to Peter (vol. II, pp. 124-68). A third journey was with the Russian army under Peter I to Derbent in Persia, May-December 1722 (vol. II, pp. 323-69). After a decade in Scotland Bell returned to St Petersburg to work for the British consul-general Rondeau (see C10) and was sent on a final mission to Constantinople, December 1737-May 1738 (vol. II, pp. 373-426).

B24 edit

Bering, Vitus, ‘An account of the travels of capt Beerings, into Siberia’. In Jean-Baptiste Du Halde, A description of the empire of China and Chinese-Tartary, together with the kingdoms of Korea, and Tibet: containing the geography and history (natural as well as civil) of those countries. From the French [by Richard Brookes]. London: printed by T. Gardner for Edward Cave, 1738-1741. 2 vols. [vol. II: printed by Edward Cave.]

The first expedition by Bering (1681-1741), a Dane recruited into Russian service, set out in January 1725 and returned to St Petersburg in March 1730. Succinct account from unknown source (vol. II, pp. 382-84).

B25 edit

La Motraye, Aubry de, The voyages and travels of A. De la Mottraye, in several provinces and places of the kingdoms and dukedoms of Prussia, Russia, Poland, &c.. London: Symon, Newton, 1732. 3 vols.

The Frenchman La Motraye (see B18) eventually visited Russia and spent a month in St Petersburg from September 1726, a year after the death of Peter I during the short reign of Catherine I. He spent many of his later years in London, where his account was published in not identical English and French versions (vol. III, pp. 54-224).

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