1568-69 - Thomas Randolfe
Embassage to the Emperor of Russia
To Mosco we came about the end of September, receiued by no man, not so much as our owne countreymen suffered to meet vs, which bred suspition in me of some other course intended, then we had hitheto found.
We were brought to a house built of purpose by the Emperour for Ambassadours, faire and large, after the fashion of that countrey.
Two gentlemen were appointed to attend vpon me, the one to see vs furnished of victuals, and that we lacked nothing of the Emperors allowance: the other to see that we should not goe out of the house, nor suffer any man to come vnto vs, in which they left nothing vndone that belonged to their charge. But specially he that looked to our persons so straightly handled vs; that we had no small cause to doubt that some euill had bene intended vnto vs. No supplication, sute, or request could take place for our liberty, nor yet to come to his presence.
Hauing passed ouer 17 weeks in this sort, the Emperour sendeth word that we should be ready against Tuesday the 20 of Februarie, at eight a clocke in the morning.
The houre being come that I should go to the Court, the two gentlemen Pristaues (as they call them) came vnto me apparelled more princely then before I had euer seene them. They presse vs to depart, and mounted vpon their owne horses, and the Ambassador vpon such a one as he had borrowed, his men marching on foot, to their great griefe.
The Ambassadour (being my selfe) was conueyed into an office where one of the chancellors doeth vse to sit, being there accompanied with the two foresayd gentlemen: I taried two long houres before I was sent for to the Emperor. In the end message being brought that the Emperour was set, I was conueyed by my gentlemen vp a paire of staires thorow a large roome, where sate by my estimation 300 persons, all in rich attire, taken out of the Emperors wardrobe for that day, vpon three ranks of benches, set round about the place, rather to present a maiestie, then that they were either of quality or honor.
At the first entry into the chamber I with my cap gaue them the reuerence, such as I iudged, their stately sitting, graue countenances and sumptuous apparell required, and seeing that it was not answered againe of any of them I couered my head, and so passing to a chamber where the Emperor was, there receiued me at the doore from my two gentlemen or gouernors, two of the Emperors counsellors, and shewed me to the Emperor, and brought me to the middle of the chamber, where I was willed to stand still, and to say that which I had to say. I by my Interpretor opened my message as I receiued it from the Queene my Mistresse, from whom I came, at whose name the Emperor stood vp, and demanded diuers questions of her health and state: whereunto answere being made, he gaue me his hand in token of my welcome, and caused me to sit downe, and further asked me diuers questions.
This done, I deliuered her Maiesties present, which was a notable great Cup of siluer curiously wrought, with verses grauen in it, expressing the histories workmanly set out in the same.
All being sayd and done (as appeared) to his contentment, he licenced me and my whole company to depart, who were all in his presence, and were saluted by him with a nod of his head, and sayd vnto me: I dine not this day openly for great affaires I haue, but I will send thee my dinner, and giue leaue to thee and thine to go at liberty, and augment our allowance to thee, in token of our loue and fauor to our sister the Queene of England.
I with reuerence tooke my leaue, being conueyed by two other of greater calling then those that brought me to the Emperors sight, who deliuered me to the two first gentlemen, who conducted me to the office where I first was, where came vnto me one called the Long duke, with whom I conferred a while, and so returned to my lodging.
Within one houre after in comes to my lodging a duke richly apparelled, accompanied with fiftie persons, ech of them carying a siluer dish with meat, and couered with siluer. The duke first deliuered twenty loaues of bread of the Emperors owne eating, hauing tasted the same, and deliuered eury dish into my hands, and tasted of euery kinde of drinke that he brought.
This being donel the duke and his company sate downe with me, and tooke part of the Emperors meat, and filled themselues well of all sorts, and went not away from me vnrewarded.
Within few nights after the Emperour had will to speake secretly with me, and sent for me in the night by the Long duke: the place was farre off, and the night colde; and I hauing changed my apparell into such as the Russes do weare, found great incommoditie thereby.
Hauing talked with him aboue three houres, towards the morning I was dismissed, and so came home to my lodging, where I remained aboue six weeks after, before I heard againe from the Emperour, who went the next day to Slouoda, the house of his solace. After the end of which sixe weeks, which was about the beginning of April, the Emperour returned from Slouoda aforesayd, and sent for me againe to make repaire vnto him. And being come, I dealt effectually with him in the behalfe of our English merchants, and found him so graciously inclined towards them, that I obtained at his hands my whole demands for large priuileges in generall, together with all the rest my particular requests. And then he commended to my conduct into England, a noble man of his, called Andrew Sauin, as his Ambassadour, for the better confirmation of his priuileges granted, and other negotiations with her Maiesty. And thus being dispatched with full contentment, the sayd Ambassadour and my selfe departed, and imbarked at S. Nicholas about the end of Iuly, and arriued safely at London in the moneth of September following.
The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation
2nd edition, London 1598-1600