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"LIKE A SHIP OFF SHE SAILED INTO EUROPE..."

Дата публикации: 02 ноября 2021
Автор(ы): Olga BORISOVA
Публикатор: Научная библиотека Порталус
Рубрика: RUSSIA (TOPICS)
Источник: (c) Science in Russia, №3, 2013, C.94-102
Номер публикации: №1635844884


Olga BORISOVA, (c)

by Olga BORISOVA, journalist

 

Getting around the German Sloboda (colony) in Moscow, Czar Peter I made a major policy decision-to forge closer contacts with Western Europe and its civilization. In 1703 he founded a new port on the Baltic Sea coast, St. Petersburg, that became Russia's capital city a decade later. This city was a "window on Europe" to our country... Yet about fifteen hundred years before the event the British had blazed a sea route to our northern shores. We learn about that by visiting two Moscow museums-one on the site of the "English Podvorye" (court) next to the Moscow Kremlin, and the other-at Lefortovo populated in the Petrine times by Germans, the Dutch, Danes and Swedes.

 

Back in 1548 the "wise and respectable men" of London founded a mercantile company of seafarers for discovering countries, lands and isles never visited before. Its first attempt was to break through to oriental lands via the Arctic Ocean. For this purpose the company got ready a flotilla of three galleons under Admiral Sir Hugh Willoughby and Chief Helmsman Sir Richard Chancellor. And thus in May of 1553 a crew of doughty sailors, with eleven merchants among them, set out on a long and perilous voyage into the Unknown.

 

Reaching in early August of the same year Norway, the ships were scattered by a violent storm. Two galleons Bona Esperanza and Bona Confidentia captained by Sir Willoughby cast anchor in the mouth of the river Varzina near what is now Murmansk to await the spring; in May of 1554 they were found by maritime fishermen. All those on board, 63 men, were dead, while the holds were packed full with merchandise. The crew died suddenly, they were probably killed by coal-gas.

 

Meanwhile the Edward Bonaventure, the third galleon steered by Sir Chancellor, laid over at fort Vardö in northern Norway waiting in vain for Sir Willoughby. Thereafter she sailed clear of the Kola Peninsula into the White Sea where a storm made her enter the mouth of the Northern

 
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Dvina for shelter. Late in August of 1553 she dropped anchor in the St. Nicholas Bay, near the Karelian Monastery of St. Nicholas. This bay was actually the first Russian northern seaport as of the 15th century (not far from the town of Severodvinsk today). Once there, the voyagers learnt they had landed in Russia.

 

Rather than risk trudging on slushy autumn roads with their knee-deep mud, Sir Chancellor chose to bide his time till spring when he could take a sleigh-road, which he did. He carried a message of his king rendered in different languages to all sovereigns of the North and East. Getting to Moscow, he was granted an audience by Czar Ivan IV (Ivan the Terrible) in the Kremlin's Golden Chamber just several days upon his arrival. The foreign guest was honored by a feast attended by as many as 200 boyar nobles. In March of 1554 Sir Chancellor, accompanied by an escort of honor, left for his homeland with

 
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a message to the king from the Russian czar with pledges of friendship and readiness to host English merchants and ambassadors.

 

Those were good tidings to London. The mercantile company (Moscow Company) was the first both in England and in Europe to strike up trade with Russia lingering in actual isolation before. The White Sea served as her gate to Europe, while the bay in the mouth of the Northern Dvina became an English trading station; later, by a ukase of the Russian czar (1584), a port and a fortress were built there in what is now the city of Archangel.

 
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In 1555 Sir Chancellor traveled to Moscow again, this time as an official envoy of the English king. While in Moscow he was granted a franchise for English merchants to carry on trade within Russia should they manage to set up a regular sea traffic with her. Osip Nepeya (Vologzhanin), a Russian envoy, accompanied Sir Chancellor on that long and arduous voyage that took four months. Getting at long last to the shores of Scotland, their ship sank hit by a storm together with the English envoy. Sir Chancellor and Sir Willoughby forged contacts between our two countries at the cost of their dear life. In 1998 a stone of honor was dedicated in Severodvinsk to commemorate Sir Chancellor and his landing on Russian shores.

 

But Nepeya, the Russian envoy, escaped by sheer miracle. More than that, he made his way to the royal court in London, where he was in for a gala reception and for the same honors as those bestowed on Englishmen by Ivan the Terrible. In 1557 Nepeya was back in Moscow together with Sir Anthony Jenkinson, an English ambassador, and lavish gifts that had a "live lion and lioness" among them. Both men were accompanied by surgeons, gold- and silver-seekers and master craftsmen.

 

In 1556 Ivan the Terrible made a gift to the English in Moscow-a land plot with the counting-house of Ivan Bobrishchev, a Russian merchant. This manor was in Zaryadye, a block east of the Kremlin, "beyond the trading-quarters"; it stretched between the street Var-varka and the Moskva, the main waterway meandering through Moscow. The Bobrishchev house thought to have been put up in the 15th century is now one of the oldest public edifices in Moscow. The Italian architect Aleviz Friazin, also known as Aloisio da Caresano (Car-cano), must have lent a hand in its erection.* In 1994 a museum-the English Podvorye (court)-was opened there with the blessing of Queen Elizabeth II**; renovated and with the old interiors restored, this mansion houses a standing exposition on commercial, cultural and diplomatic relations between our two countries.

 

This outstanding monument of Russian architecture would have been just a memory had it not been for Pyotr Baranovsky, an architect and restoration artist in great esteem among his colleagues who stint no praise and superlatives like a "keeper of history", a "legend", or a

 

* He worked in Russia in the late fourteen-hundreds and early fifteen-hundreds. In 1494 to 1519 he built the walls, towers and ramparts of the Moscow Kremlin as well as the Grand Kremlin Palace (the older one). See also: T. Geidor, "Masterpieces That Endure", Science in Russia, No. 1, 2009.-Ed.

 

** See: A. Sotin, "The Old English Court, Its Inmates", Science in Russia, No. 4, 2010-Ed.

 
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"20th-century Avvakum" (high priest of the restive Old Believers in the 17th century). Our capital owes a great deal to this man, for one, restoration of the original look of the Church of the Protecting Veil of the Holy Virgin on the Moat, known also as St. Basil's Church (erected on Red Square in 1555 to 1561)*; of Krutitsi Podvorye (built in the 17th century), St. Andronicus Monastery (put up in the 16th to 18th centuries)... Friazin contributed greatly to the Russian national heritage in other towns as well.

 

Undertaking on-site diggings in the mid-1960s, Ba-ranovsky recovered what remained of the English colony in Moscow buried under thick overlayers of deposits. He

 

See: K. Averyanov, "The Main Moscow Cathedral", Science in Russia, No. 4, 2011.-Ed.

 

did his utmost to keep the artifacts intact. It cost him great effort to begin restoration works (1968-1972). But Baranovsky did succeed in his undertaking. Today crossing the threshold of the manor with its vaulted ceiling, steep and narrow stairways and low door jambs, we kind of land in 16th-century Moscow.

 

The main residence of London merchants was the venue of business get-togethers, and it was also used as a storage place of coffers and merchandise. Storerooms were in the attic (where cargoes were lifted by a hoisting mechanism much in use in Western Europe) and in the basement of white stone with an arched ceiling and smallish windows above. These are the oldest premises remaining as they were in the early fifteen-hundreds. Today these rooms feature an exposition on the first

 
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steps of Russian-English sea trade. Visitors can see copies of old navigation instruments and maps as well as specimens of goods made in both countries, in particular, English tableware, an English carbine and a musket of the early 17th century. Also displayed there is a galleon model (scale, 1:35).

 

The English received tradespeople and guests in the reception hall on the ground floor. Archeological diggings of the 1960s allow us to see what it looked like in the 16th century. Piecing together bits of decor, it became possible to restore the floor of black and white ceramic plates as well as white-stone carved designs in the center of the ceiling, a focal point of arches where a chandelier was hung. Restoration artists rebuilt a large Russian stove likewise used as a bed alcove; this stove was decorated with turkey-red facets depicting exotic plants and beasts. Settees stood alongside the walls, and there was a long table and chairs in the middle, all English-made. The front porch, unheated, is now under exhibits on nascent two-way diplomatic relations. Here you can see copies of business records, deeds, letters and portraits of English and Russian monarchs.

 

The Moscow Company kept expanding: in the latter half of the 16th century it had branches in other Russian towns like Yaroslavl, Vologda, Kholmogory, Archangel, Novgorod the Great, Narva... The English brought in lots of products that included wine, salt, sugar, medicines, almonds, dried fruit, tinware and luxury items. Superb broadcloth, the Lundish (from the word Lunda, as our forefathers would call London) was also in the inventory. Yet the main import items comprised powder, potassium nitrate, sulphur, lead, iron, tin and copper, all that used in the war-making industry. Russian export merchandise included wax, wood, flax, hemp, cable, leather, blubber, mica in thin sheets used for window glass, oil, salt beef and, now and then, bread.

 

Meanwhile other European countries-Holland, Sweden, Germany and France-were out to gain a foothold on the Russian market, too. The Russia-Europe rapprochement took on other forms as well-as early as the 15th century West Europeans started being employed in the service of Russian czars as army servicemen, surgeons, gunsmiths, builders and artisans. Together with salesmen they imported West European life styles and technical novelties.

 

According to Vassily Klyuchevsky, an eminent Russian historian, it was that period that saw a sea change "in the attitude of the Russian public to Western Europe: heretofore it had been regarded as a workshop of military and other articles that could be purchased without taking the trouble to ask how they were made; but now it was looked upon as a school where one could learn both skills and an ability to live and think. Little by little the Moscow Company came to be involved into the orbit of social, economic and cultural ties.

 

During civil strife of the mid-17th century ("Short" and "Long" Parliament) King Charles I was deposed and executed in 1749. Monarchy was abolished in England for a time, up until its restoration in the "Glorious Revolution" of 1660. The Russian Czar, Alexei Mikhailovich, broke off relations with the British republic but had them resumed after the "Glorious Revolution". In 1652 he issued a ukase bearing on aliens resident in Moscow. In keeping with that decree, "Afonasy, Nesterov's son, and

 
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clerks Feodor Ivanov and Bogdan Arefyev should build a new colony for aliens... near the Yauza River... give lands in the selfsame German colony to households, according to dignity, rank or occupations."

 

This meant a rebirth of the German Sloboda (colony), a tiny West European oasis on the eastern edge of the Russian capital. This foreign colony went through many hardships in the turmoil of Russian politics-it saw conflagrations and devastations, with its denizens scattered far and wide. So the old German Sloboda saw a new lease on life: already at the close of the 17th century its straight streets were lined with fine houses amid gardens. The homemakers wore outlandish getups, not conventional Russian habiliments as inborn Muscovites did. The young Peter I, who frequented the sloboda as of 1690, liked very much these free styles in life and dress.

 

But what the young czar liked best of all was that residents of this place were expert in warfare and weaponry, the sovereign's overriding passion from the tender nail. One of them was Franz Lefort, born in Geneva, Switzerland, who became a loyal associate of the reform-minded Russian ruler. In 1692 this career army officer was put in command of a crack regiment and granted a plot of land for building 500 homes for private soldiers and junior officers on the left bank of the Yauza, just opposite his home on the right bank. Part of this land was used as a ground for war exercises. That's how the Soldier (Lefortovo) Sloboda came into being, Russia's first barracks-type settlement, a forerunner of present-day garrisons.

 

In 1999 this neighborhood, Lefortovo, marked its 300th birth anniversary. On this occasion a history

 
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museum was inaugurated at the entrance to a park laid out back in 1703 by Feodor Golovin, Peter's close associate and head of the Ambassadorial Department (Foreign Office). This is the first museum in Moscow dealing with just one town borough, the cradle of Petrine reforms. Unveiled close by is a monument to the great Russian czar and emperor, and Lefort, his favorite-also remarkable for gallant ways and debauchery: two tall men, in panoply, looking ahead.

 

It was Lefort and Golovin who were heading a Great Embassy that left for the West in 1697 to restate pledges of "old friendship and amity in the common cause of Christianity". The main objective of that significant diplomatic mission, as Peter I saw it, was this: "1) See the political life of Europe, for neither he nor his forefathers have ever seen it; 2) On the model of European countries build up his state politically and above all, militarily; 3) Encourage his subjects by his very example to travel abroad to alien parts so as to apprehend good ways and learn languages." Without concealing Russia's lag, the reformer sovereign urged to learn from the experience of Western countries in shipbuilding, war making and crafts.

 

The exposition of the museum, though not large in the number of exhibits, is quite informative, covering a stretch from the 16th century to our days. It displays archeological finds of the latter nineteen-hundreds: tin-

 
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ware, a copper candlestick ("Hollander") made in the 17th century; tobacco pipes of the 18th century as well as other items. Also on display are maps and plans of the district, the German Sloboda including, and its small-scale mockup showing streets, a kirk (die Kirche), and homes with elements of Western architecture.

 

Set apart in a separate showcase is a large doll in a full-dress apparel done up in ermine-Empress Catherine 1 all over. Nearby are the "beard tokens" anno 1705- small coin-like tags to prove that a so-and-so has paid a "beard tax" (Peter I forbade his male subjects to keep beards unless they paid a special duty). We can see what uniforms of the poteshny (fun) soldiers looked like: in 1691 the young czar raised regiments of boy-soldiers for fun and play; in years they evolved into crack regiments-the Lefortovo Regiment, and the first regiments of the Guards-Semyonov and Preobrazhensky (1709).

 

Weaponry is also well represented: Russian cold steel, a German flint-lock pistol as well as a Swedish artillery gun seized during the Great Northern War of 1700-1721 against Sweden and her allies. At this point we might just as well recall the Battle of Poltava* that turned the tide in Russia's favor (1709); the Russian troops carried the day largely thanks to the artillery commanded by Jacob Bruce, a man of Scotch origin and Peter's close associate. A small collection of exhibits is devoted to this talented commander and war engineer: his portrait painted in the 17th century by an unknown artist, a seal with a family coat-of-arms, a reference book supplied with an astrological calendar (published in 1709 with his participation).

 

Peter 1, though hiring many foreigners, understood well that new Russia had to rely on the national stock that had to be educated and trained. In 1698 he invited Professor Henry Farvarson of Aberdeen University in Scotland who established a system of mathematic and navigation schools. One was housed in the chambers of the "English Podvorye" (court). Such schools paved the way to establishments training specialists capable of building new industries as well as an army and navy. These three prongs were conceived as a cornerstone of a strong power to be. Many decades later, in 1834, the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin noted that "Russia entered Europe like a ship off at sea-she did it to the music of hacking axes and rumbling guns... and European enlightenment moored to the banks of the conquered Neva."

 

Palatial ensembles grew up at Lefortovo**. One of them was the Golovin manor with the first formal park

 

See: V. Artamonov, "If Only Russia Lived in Glory and Welfare...", Science in Russia, No. 4, 2009.-Ed.

 

** See: O. Borisova, "Versailles on the Yauza", Science in Russia, No. 3, 2011.-Ed.

 

in this country; in 1721 Peter I purchased the estate from the heirs of the deceased owner. There followed two Annenhof palaces. Unfortunately these palatial mansions have not survived to our days. Yet the engravings of that time help us visualize what they looked like. The Catherine Palace erected in 1796 houses today a Russian army academy.

 

In keeping with a Petrine ukase, a "spital for the sick" was built in 1706-1707 at Lefortovo, today the Burdenko military hospital. Guests to the museum can see a panoply of items like 18th-century tinware, syringes, surgical instruments and other gadgets of the 19th century and of the early nineteen-hundreds, in particular, a kymograph (blood pressure monitor). Also, a rather curious exhibit, the Nurse of Charity doll. Quite nearby was a sorority of medical nurses founded by Princess Nataliya Shakhovs-kaya in 1872-"Soothe My Pains" was the name of that community patronized by Emperor Alexander II. It ran a hospital, a dispensary, a drugstore and a school training registered nurses; in addition to that it had an orphanage and provided shelter to senior sisters.

 

Lefortovo expanded further after the Patriotic War of 1812 against Napoleon to become a military township where three cadet corps were billeted; there came another military school at the close of the 19th century. Featured in the exposition are photographs, writing materials, marching gear, posters and other things of that time.

 

In 2008 English Podvorye and Lefortovo became part of the Amalgamated Museums of Moscow that include a string of other museums-of Moscow Archeology, of Russian Harmonica (Mirek Museum), of manorial culture (Vlakhernskoye-Kuzminki Museum) as well as large food depots for the army (now a major cultural and educational center). These stores founded in 1896 have more than a million of items in their care-large collections related to archeology, cartography, numismatics, and arts. Now add pictorial cards and photographs of old Moscow, historical archives, books, manuscripts, periodicals, fabrics, porcelain, glass, arms, household articles and what not! All this has a remarkable lot to tell about Moscow, its past and present.

 

 

Опубликовано на Порталусе 02 ноября 2021 года

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