Exploring Russia in the Elizabethan commonwealth

The Muscovy Company and Giles Fletcher, the elder (1546–1611)

By Felicity Stout

Exploring Russia in the Elizabethan commonwealth


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-9700-3
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: October 2015
  • BIC Category: Humanities / British & Irish history, Humanities / Early modern history: c 1450/1500 to c 1700, History, USSR, Soviet Union, Social & cultural history, Russia, History & Archaeology, European history, c 1500 onwards to present day, HISTORY / Europe / Russia & the Former Soviet Union, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain
  • Series: Politics, Culture and Society in Early Modern Britain


Exploring Russia in the Elizabethan Commonwealth tells the story of English relations with Russia, from the 'strange and wonderfull discoverie' of the land and Elizabeth I's correspondence with Ivan the Terrible, to the corruption of the Muscovy Company and the Elizabethan regime's censorship of politically sensitive representations of Russia. Focusing on the life and works of Giles Fletcher, the elder, ambassador to Russia in 1588, this work explores two popular themes in Elizabethan history: exploration, travel and trade and late Elizabethan political culture. By analysing the pervasive languages of commonwealth, corruption and tyranny found in both the Muscovy Company accounts and in Fletcher's writings on Russia, this monograph explores how Russia was a useful tool for Elizabethans to think with when they contemplated the nature of government and the changing face of monarchy in the late Elizabethan regime. It will appeal to academics and students of Elizabethan political culture and literary studies, as well as those of early modern travel and trade.


1. An adventuring commonwealth: English mercantile and diplomatic encounters
with Russia, 1553-88
2. A commonwealths-man in Russia: Giles Fletcher's early career and embassies
3. Creating a feigned commonwealth: Fletcher's response to Russia
4. A corrupted commonwealth: Fletcher's representation of Russia
5. A commonwealth counselled: Russia's resonances in late Elizabethan England
6. A controversial commonwealth: censorship, poetry and Fletcher's later career
Conclusion: Thinking with Russia, writing English commonwealth
Select bibliography


Felicity Jane Stout is the De Velling Willis Fellow in History at the University of Sheffield

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