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Semester 1

The English Discovery of Russia, 1553-1648 (HIST10484)







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Visiting students must have completed at least 3 History courses at grade B or above. We will only consider University/College level courses. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum academic entry requirements does NOT guarantee admission. **Please note that 3rd year History courses have extremely limited spaces available, and are very popular, so students cannot be guaranteed a space in any 3rd year History course.** These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the History department directly to request additional spaces.

Course Summary

In 1553, the sole surviving ship of the English Merchant Adventures reached the shores of Russia, where the English were warmly welcomed by its current ruler, Ivan the Terrible. A trading partnership, and later a diplomatic relationship, swiftly followed, uniting the two kingdoms in amity, but likewise trapping them in a unilateral relationship. In this course, we will explore the first hundred years of the Anglo-Russian relationship.

Course Description

The course introduces students to early modern Russian history through the perspective of Anglo-Russian diplomatic and trading relations. Despite their shared European and Christian heritage, the two countries maintained vastly different socio-political and cultural structures, leading the English to nickname Russia a 'rude and barbarous kingdom'. It was, however, a place of extensive mercantile wealth and natural resources, as well as royal generosity. For the majority of the relationship, the English were permitted to trade tax-free and were seen as the favoured nation. There were even discussions about Ivan the Terrible marrying Elizabeth I. The course explores the relationship between England (later Britain) and Russia from three perspectives: trade, diplomacy and exchange. We will consider questions such as why Russia was seen as an important trading partner and what were the chief imports/exports ferried by the English Muscovy Company. From a diplomatic perspective, we will consider the consequences of different political aims of the two countries and examine instances of diplomatic tension. How did one appease a ruler such as Ivan the Terrible? We will likewise examine the perceptions of Russia and its people as expressed through contemporary English travel and diplomatic writings, whilst also exploring the lives of English/Scotsmen who entered the Tsar's service. In the process, we will consider broader issues of maritime exploration, premodern diplomacy and the legacy of the first 100 years of Anglo-Russian relations. The course will likewise introduce you to the emergent field of 'new' diplomatic history.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 0%, Coursework 100%, Practical Exam 0%

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