- Project Runeberg -  A practical guide for Russian consular officers and all persons having relations with Russia /

(1916) Author: Alfons Heyking - Tema: Russia
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Supervision of Commerce and Shipping.

History of

CHAPTER I.—Commercial Relations of Russia
with Foreign Countries.

The commercial relations of Russia with foreign countries date from
a very early period. In the ninth and tenth centuries the town of
Novgorod-on-Ilmen had already very extensive commercial relations
with Western Europe and belonged to the commercial association
of the period known as the " Hanseatic League." Later on, through
the invasion of the Tartars, Russia suffered very much in this as
indeed in almost every direction. In Novgorod alone, as the Tartars
did not penetrate so far, social and political life in general remained
less affected than in the centre of Russia. There was still trade with
Western Europe, but it decreased, so that for some time the
commercial relations of Russia with foreign countries were on a very
small scale, and it was not until the sixteenth century that they

The first country to enter into such relations with Russia was
Great Britain. In 1553 a British boat under the command of a
Captain Chancellor arrived at the mouth of the River North Dwina,
where, later on, the town of Archangel was founded. As Captain
Chancellor learned from the inhabitants that the country round about
belonged to the State then called Moscovia, he sent a messenger to
the Czar Ivan IV., the Terrible, with letters patent from King Edward
VI. In these letters the King proposed to establish peaceful
commercial relations with all countries that the expedition might visit. Czar
Ivan, in answer to this friendly invitation, willingly gave to Great
Britain the right to import into Russia all kinds of goods, free of duty.

On its becoming known that Moscovia had opened its doors to
international trade, other countries tried also to enter into relations
with Russia. The British, however, gained the greatest advantages,
as they were the first to receive these privileges, and for about one
hundred years they maintained this position against all competitors.
These privileges continued to be granted to Britain by the succeeding
Czars, as, for instance, by Boris Godoonof and Michail Feodorovich.

It was not until the end of the seventeenth century that all foreign
merchants were put on the same footing, certain very low custom
duties being imposed. During this century maritime trade also
improved. In 1558 the port of Narva on the Baltic Sea was
conquered, and in 1584 the town of Archangel was founded.

There was a much larger increase of trade, however, in the reign
of Peter the Great, who won for Russia three other large ports on
the Baltic : Riga, Reval, and Wibourg, and in 1703 St. Petersburg
was founded. Peter the Great also joined this city with the Volga


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