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Travelers and Traveler's Accounts in World History, Part 1


Russia Encounters Islam: Merchant Narratives and the Early Modern Global Economy

Matthew Romaniello


     A recent challenge for world historians is to relocate individuals and their experiences in a broader historical narrative. Recent articles by Tonio Andrade and Merry Wiesner-Hanks attempted to outline the ways in which considering individual experiences might challenge our notions of world history in productive ways.1 One of the primary reasons the field of world history tended to overlook the role of individuals is the origin of the field in structuralist narratives of global economic change, most famously in Immanuel Wallerstein's Modern World System.2 In the late 1990s, works by Andre Gunder Frank, R. Bin Wong, and Kenneth Pomeranz challenged the prevailing notions of a Western-oriented world system by demonstrating the early modern economic superiority of China, but primarily engaged the structuralist model with economic data.3 By 2012, it is safe to say that the revision of Wallerstein pioneered in the 1990s has become widely accepted, if challenged in specific details such as where, when, and why Asia was superior, but economic structures still dominate the field of world history.4

     Even working within an economic framework, merchant records of their travel can broaden our understanding of global change. This paper will examine utilize merchant records and travel accounts to recover one narrative of global economic change from a region Wallerstein described as the "semi-periphery." Though early modern Russia was included in the previous scholarship, this article will provide a concrete example for instructors as to how the region might better be integrated into world history. In doing so, I hope highlight this economic change not as just a Russian experience, but as a way of reframing the complexity of the global economy as a whole.5 It was after all not merely merchants and commodities that forged an international economic community but also their attitudes, beliefs, and experiences that shaped their knowledge, biases, and, ultimately, globalization.

The View from the 'Semi-Periphery'

     In the seventeenth century, Russia's newly-established Romanov dynasty focused on establishing foreign trade following the expense of the wars of the sixteenth century and the recent civil and foreign wars of the early seventeenth. Establishing relations with Russia's southern neighbors - the great Muslim empires in Iran and India in particular - was a high priority, due to their size, wealth, and desirable commodities. In order to accomplish this goal, information was needed to support possible exchanges, and, most importantly, a more honest account of the Muslim Empires. This became the official task of the elite merchant (gost') Fedot Afanasev syn Kotov, dispatched from Moscow in 1623/4 by order of Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich, who would produce a descriptive narrative of his journey to assist future merchants to navigate both the physical travel and unfamiliar cultural contacts.6 Kotov traveled on familiar ground in his expedition, traveling down the Moskva River to the Volga all the way to the entrepôt of Astrakhan. From Astrakhan, Kotov boarded a barge on the Caspian Sea, landing in the Safavid city of Shirvan, and then traveling overland to the capital, Isfahan. From the international trade center of Isfahan, Kotov gathered information on the Muslim trading world with a particular emphasis on Mughal India. While Muscovite Russians had traded with the Mughals since the sixteenth century, all of these exchanges traveled through Iran and then to Astrakhan.

     Throughout his travels, Kotov demonstrated extensive knowledge of the region. The route to Iran had been well-trod by Russian envoys in the previous thirty years, including the recent embassies of Fëdor Isakovich Leont'ev in 1616 and Mikhail Petrovich Bariatinskii in 1618.7 Kotov had detailed knowledge of all of the possible routes from Astrakhan to Ottoman Turkey, Safavid Iran, and Mughal India, by land and by sea; he justified his choice of travel by sea to Iran for its safety and speed.

     Even with his familiarity with the routes, Kotov's account recorded traditional topics of early-modern travel narratives. It provided an extensive description of time and distance from place to place and a physical description of the environment, enumerated potential trade goods, and discussed the customs of Muslims in Iran. All of this information would be necessary for future travelers to successfully navigate the journey and to prepare them for future diplomatic and commercial exchanges with local elites.

     Kotov generally admired Safavid Iran; he was impressed by Iran's wealth, its size, and diversity of its population. For example,

Isfahan stands on a sort of spur between high mountains on a flat place and Isfahan is the capital city of the kingdom of Persia, large and fine, only the citadel is poor, made of clay like the walls thrown up round gardens. The king's palaces stand with gates onto the great maidan and the gates are high and over the gates there are pavilions painted in gold and there is pavilion on pavilion three storeys high, and all decorated with gold, and all manner of ambassadors and merchants go into these pavilions… At the end of the maidan there are high gates leading into an enclosure and high up above those gates there stands a clock, and the place where the clock stands is also ornamented with gold and made fine…8

Though his general impressions were overall positive, Kotov did have some concerns about the public presence of Muslim women in the maidan.

And the women go wrapped in this cotton cloth so that the face and eyes are not seen, and on their feet they wear the same cloth stockings and slippers, and some have velvet stockings; and those women and girls have trousers, and they wear their long in braids to the waist and down to their heels and some of the plait their hair in two or three or four braids, and into their own hair they plait other hair for their adornment; and in their nostrils they have gold rings with jewels and pearls, and the undergarment is a narrow kaftan and their bosoms are bare and on their breasts and round their necks and on their bodies are hung strings of pearls.9

     Kotov's demonstrated familiarity with Iran and Islam throughout his narrative, and even used Persian terms (such as maidan) in his text. It seems unlikely that this would have been his first visit to Isfahan, or his first sight of an Iranian woman. However, first-time Muscovite travelers could easily have been shocked at the behavior of these Muslim women. Muscovite elite women of the early seventeenth century still lived in a culture that idealized their total seclusion from public life. Contrasted with that reality at home, Kotov's description was fairly moderate.10

     In fact, the people of Iran fare better in Kotov's account than Indians or Turks, who were depicted in less admirable terms:

And as to the Multanis at Isfahan, or in our language "Indians," they too have various religions. Some hold to Islam, and others believe in the sun; when the sun begins to rise they pray to it. … And all the Indians wear clothes of white cotton and white turbans also on their heads, and in stature they are not robust and their faces are bloodless and lean and dark.11

Kotov's brief remarks on sun worship was quite neutral, but his description of Indians as "not robust," "bloodless," and "dark" was more critical than his positive assessment of the residents of Isfahan. The reason for this criticism is unclear. Possibly Kotov was more sympathetic to Iran as he was more familiar with it, and, certainly, Russian merchants had a longer record of economic exchange in Isfahan than in India. It is impossible to know, however, whether Kotov was reflecting his own observations or the Iranian attitude toward Indians, or was recording pure speculation to interest future travelers.

     Kotov's admiration of Iran should not imply that the Russians viewed the project of establishing trade with the Muslim world as a straightforward process. Russian merchants regularly complained of the dangers of the trade routes, particularly the overland route. Despite the international community of merchants traveling to Iran, no one seemed secure along its trade routes.12 However, the greater problem was the outbreak of war between Mughal India and Safavid Iran in the 1630s.13 With the increased troop deployment in the region, travel had not become safer. The trip to Isfahan had become nearly impassable, making trade with India through Iran nearly unimaginable.

     Though Kotov made no progress in establishing any formal relationship with Iran, his lack of success did little to dim the optimism of the Posol'skii Prikaz (Foreign Office; lit. "Ambassadorial Chancellery"). Kotov hoped that the tense relationship between Mughal India and Safavid Iran could be exploited to produce a more favorable view of Moscow. If Iran was uninterested, then perhaps India could be enticed.14 Following Kotov's journey, three more embassies from Moscow traveled to Mughal India over the course of the seventeenth century, each carrying a proposal to establish a new overland route from Astrakhan to Bukhara in Central Asia and then south into India.15 However, by the middle of the seventeenth century Portuguese, English, and Dutch merchants all had overseas routes to India, which undermined any Muscovite attempt to insert itself into this international exchange. In addition, Muscovy still lacked a viable commodity to sustain a long-term trade with the Muslim world.16 In 1613, all Moscow had to offer was a route from the Middle East to Europe, in which the Europeans would offer specie for silk and spices. By 1650, Moscow did not even have that.

     This does not imply that there was no transit of international goods along the Volga, only that no agency succeeded in establishing a monopoly or a great volume of trade. Individual merchants were potentially the greatest beneficiaries of the Volga trade route, particularly Russian merchants who maintained a freedom of movement denied to their foreign counterparts. One example would be Prokopei Andreev from Kazan'. He appears in customs records frequently, buying sable, fox, and bear pelts in Siberia for sales in Velikii Ustiug, Vologda, and Iaroslavl', and purchasing Iranian silk in Kazan' for sale in those same places during the 1630s. At one point, he traveled with as much as 150 rubles of silk, which was a considerable investment at the time.17 At the same time, no Russian or foreign merchant ever received right to an exclusive monopoly. Rather than putting cash directly into state coffers in Moscow, the best the state could hope for was some revenue from tariffs for transportation along the Volga. Though Andreev's trade indicates there was demand for Iranian silk, a lack of direct access for Russian merchants did hinder the potential development of the trade.

     The Posol'skii Prikaz, therefore, attempted to restrict the ability of Iranian and Indian merchants inside Muscovy's borders to force those men into a similar position as the English and Dutch. For example, in 1638 Kazan's voevoda petitioned the tsar concerning the arrival of Iranian and Indian merchants in his city from Astrakhan. The merchants carried gifts for the Posol'skii Prikaz in order to persuade Muscovite authorities to allow them to travel to Moscow with their trade goods. For the moment, they remained in Kazan'.18 While at first this action seems counterintuitive considering the lack of progress Russian merchants had made to the south, the goal for the chancelleries was always to place domestic transit in the hands of Russian merchants. Therefore, though relations with these specific merchants might have been improved by allowing their journey to Moscow, this compromise would have done nothing to improve Moscow's relationship with the Muslim empires and their economies.

     Meanwhile, the Posol'skii Prikaz's failure to develop a trade monopoly likely inspired its firm stance on restricting the operation of the English Muscovy Company in Moscow.19 As early as 1626, King Charles I was making lavish promises to Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich about the potential benefits from allowing English trade along the Volga. Charles promised that he desired that "this Trade of Silk should be settled in your Majesties Dominions rather than in any other Kingdome," while at the same time the English East India Company was already doing just that.20 No English promise of potential profit, however, would be sufficient to alter the Muscovite policy of banning European merchants from traveling the Volga. Allowing the English access would only have created the possibility that they might succeed where Muscovy failed, and create a situation in which Muscovy would have to settle for English middlemen on a Russian trade route.

     Still, resisting English arguments remains a remarkable decision, in light of the Russians' limited profits, the lack of progress in Iran or India, and the continuing security issues. Admittedly, as long as the English believed the Volga offered superior speed and safety to the Middle East compared with traveling through Ottoman Turkey, Moscow maintained a strong hand. In fact, at one point Charles I sought permission for his ambassador to Iran to travel through Muscovy to Arkhangel'sk for "his speedier returne," arguing that the Volga was far safer than the overseas route.21 The second, and perhaps more pressing, factor that explains the English persistence was its developing competition with the Dutch over access to the East.22 Dutch merchants succeeded in signing an advantageous treaty with the Iranian Shah in 1619.23 The English hoped to match or exceed its terms. Throughout the seventeenth century, Dutch merchants gained several exclusive export contracts to Russian goods, including important naval commodities such as tar and timber. The English attempts to break the Dutch export monopolies increased the importance of Muscovy and the Volga River for both the English Muscovy Company and East Indies Company.24 To a great extent, the best way for the Posol'skii Prikaz to continue to receive interesting offers from the English and the Dutch was to use access to the trade route as leverage. Therefore, it is no wonder that despite the lack of success, the English continued to ardently pursue the goal of foreign trade, particularly focusing on the potential of an exclusive monopoly on the importation of silk.

     In spite of their lack of any notable successes in foreign trade, the Muscovite chancelleries had learned the benefit from stricter controls over the economy by the 1640s. The toll system, in fact, continued to produce specie whereas other sectors of the economy did not. Increased control created other opportunities as well. Rather than worry if businesses succeeded or failed, selling monopolies provided immediate cash payments up front, and placed the risk of the new enterprise on someone other than the government. With a combination of restrictive controls on all commercial exchanges, and use of monopoly licenses to regulate domestic business, the Muscovite government developed in similar ways to most early modern economies – as a mercantilist one. While "mercantilism" as a system is a later identification of these processes, the protectionist and monopolist stance taken by the Muscovite chancelleries to develop the domestic economy and squeeze foreign trade through taxes was not a unique solution.

     In light of these difficulties, the tsar and the Posol'skii Prikaz dispatched an official embassy to India in 1646.25 It was led by two merchants, Nikita Syroezhin from Kazan' and Vasilei Tuskhanov from Astrakhan. The merchants left Moscow with separate introductions for Shah Abbas II and Shah Jahan, reflecting the Posol'skii Prikaz's knowledge of the current political conflict. The primary goal of the embassy was to reach India, in hopes of establishing regular trade independent of the Iranian trade route. The Posol'skii Prikaz instructed the merchants to greet Shah Jahan with an offer of the tsar's "friendship and love and other good things."26 With such fulsome praise for Shah Jahan, the Posol'skii Prikaz seemed to acknowledge the difficulty of Muscovy's position. Muscovy had little to offer of interest to India, and, as a result, had little hopes of enticing Indian trade other than the faint possibility of circumventing the trade through Iran. As a result, the Posol'skii Prikaz did suggest one useful negotiating tool, reminding the merchants to praise Shah Jahan for his country where "Christians and Muslims lived in peace," an intended criticism of the Safavid and Ottoman Empires.27 Despite these kind words, the merchants failed to negotiate new terms for trade.

     With little accomplished on the first embassy, the Posol'skii Prikaz tried again with dispatch of Rodion Nikitin syn Pushnikov and Ivan Derevenskii to India in 1651, where they would remain until 1667.28 These merchants were also residents of Kazan' and Astrakhan, likely chosen for their familiarity with both the Volga's trade with the Muslim south as well as with the Indian diaspora community that resided in each city. Little in Russia's position had changed by time Pushnikov and Derevenskii departed, other than the renewal of hostilities between Iran and India. The introductory letter from the tsar for the embassy instructed the merchants that "tsar and great prince Aleksei Mikhailovich, autocrat of all Russia, sent these merchants to his own brother, to the great sovereign, his majesty Shah Jahan."29 This clearly followed the established precedents for addressing Shah Jahan, which had failed earlier to motivate the Mughal Emperor from signing any binding agreements with the Russians. Pushnikov and Derevenskii, at least, arrived with a concrete plan for trade, as the Posol'skii Prikaz proposed supporting the development of an alternative trade route from India to Bukhara and then into Siberia, completely bypassing Iran.30 Clearly, the tsar's hope was the current hostilities would make this Russian alternative more attractive.

     At this point, the distinction between Moscow's plans and the travelers' experiences became increasingly sharp. The Posol'skii Prikaz certainly was aware of the complaints of merchants about the lack of safety on the trip, and the continuing violence between Iran and India had only made the situation more precarious for the Russian embassy.31 Complaints constituted the majority of Pushkinov and Derevenskii's correspondence with Moscow over the length of their embassy, reiterating the violence and danger of the trade routes. It seems unlikely the trade plans for Bukhara had a genuine chance of success if the tsar's own representatives were not willing to travel that route.32 None of the complaints, from official or unofficial representatives of the tsar, altered the Posol'skii Prikaz's position, which continued to write to Shah Jahan with "friendship and love and good deeds."33

     By 1667, the Posol'skii Prikaz developed a policy to enable its regulation of international trade. Previously, foreign merchants negotiated with Moscow on a case-by-case basis, as when the English Muscovy Company lost its freedom from Muscovite tariffs in 1649.34 The 1667 Novotorgovyi ustav (New Commercial Code) expanded the restrictions for all merchants, not only charging foreign merchants punitive tariffs on all trade goods but also physically restricting their movement inside the kingdom.35 Foreign merchants could conduct business only in Arkhangel'sk, Novgorod, Pskov, Smolensk, Putivl', and Astrakhan, severely curtailing their presence in the Muscovite market and preventing any access to the Volga. The English and Dutch were limited to the north, the Swedes to the west, and Indians and Iranians to the far south.

     By this point in the seventeenth century, regulating the movement of foreign merchants was part of the central chancelleries' plan to create a state-managed zone of trade within the interior of Moscow. Foreign goods were still transported along the Volga River, but in well-defined arrangement with specific monopolies. The so-called "Armenian Company" was established in 1667 to transport goods from Iran and India between Astrakhan and Moscow, having been approved by both the Posol'skii Prikaz and the Prikaz Kazanskogo dvortsa.36 As a state-sponsored transportation monopoly, the Armenian Company paid for its privilege directly to the central chancelleries, and the local voevody and customs officials along the Volga River were forbidden from interfering with the trade.

     At approximately the same time, the Muscovite government formalized its relationship with Bukharan merchants, who had the exclusive right to transport Chinese goods to Moscow. Bukharan caravans traveled through Central Asia overland, arriving at either Astrakhan or Kazan', and then were expected to travel north along the Volga River, similar to the Armenian Company.37 In this way, the Muscovite government guaranteed itself yearly duties from the exclusive monopolies, resolved the transportation of these valuable goods, and reinforced the ban on merchants traveling inside its borders. If English and Dutch merchants desired an Asian commodity, it could only be purchased in Moscow. If Iranian merchants desired Muscovite goods, they could only reach Astrakhan. Unsurprisingly, many foreign merchants attempted to establish direct relationships with Armenian or Bukharan merchants to influence the internal transportation, but with little success.38

     For the first time in Russian history, the government placed foreign merchants at a notable disadvantage within the kingdom. As a result, it marked the first instances in which the Muslim merchants became the petitioners rather than the Muscovites. Complaints to the Posol'skii Prikaz became frequent for the remainder of the century. A nephew of the Iranian Shah Mamandu Selbek, Oalarbek, protested the refusal of permission to travel to Kazan' from Astrakhan to deliver his goods. In previous years, Oalarbek had traveled to Kazan' without hindrance; he protested paying a middleman for that same transportation.39 In that same year, an Indian merchant living in Astrakhan, Banda Mingaev, petitioned the governor of Astrakhan to receive permission to transport his goods to Kazan'. The governor of Astrakhan wrote to the current governor of Kazan' about Mingaev, arguing that Mingaev had this permission in the past and only wanted his rights restored.40 While even these minor examples were Muscovite successes, there was no guaranteed connection between the experiences of Muslim merchants inside Muscovy and Russia's destiny to the south.

     This is not to imply that the New Commercial Code did not transform Muscovy's economic position. In Astrakhan, customs officials suddenly gained responsibility for regulating all trade with Asia. The local governor warned the customs officials to watch all "foreigners and Russian people from across the sea."41 Merchants arriving on Muscovy's shores from East and West protested the newly-invasive inspections, with little result in altering the new policies.42 The reason is obvious. While some merchants felt wronged by the new procedures, the state had far more to gain by collecting customs duties than it did in accommodating the interest of the merchants. In terms of the long-term attempt to sway the Mughal state into supporting Russian foreign trade interests, this policy could do little but hinder future progress.43

     The next embassy dispatched to India in 1675 turned this impression of Islam into fact, when the Posol'skii Prikaz relied upon a Russian-born Muslim as its emissary for the first time.44 Though Muhammed-Iusuf Kasimov was also from Astrakhan as most of the earlier choices had been, there were obvious differences in his treatment by the Posol'skii Prikaz. Unlike the earlier embassies that traveled with Russian documents and a translator, Kasimov was dispatched with letters in Latin and Tatar, and no translator, as the expectation was that he would be able to communicate with an audience familiar with Persian in India and along the trade route. The lesson learned from sixty years of failure was to promote the common cultural connection of Russia and the Muslim south. Rather than presenting Muscovy as a foreign state, the appointment of Kasimov suggested that Muscovy was a familiar part of the Muslim trade community.

     Despite the intentional choice to reach out to Mughal India with a potentially more familiar intermediary, Kasimov's travels were not a great success. According to Kasimov, poor finances hindered his trade mission. The Posol'skii Prikaz sent Kasimov from Astrkahan to Bukhara with only 711 rubles, more than 1000 rubles less than any of the Christian embassies had been sent with earlier in the century.45 Kasimov constantly peppered the Posol'skii Prikaz with requests for further funding in order to replace his out of pocket of expenses, which appear to not have been met. Upon his arrival in India, Kasimov was more than 2,000 rubles in debt, which undermined his diplomatic efforts to speak to the Mughal Emperor in "love and friendship," much less persuade the Mughals to support the possibility of the new trade route to Bukhara.

     With the new tactics of using a Muslim to succeed where the Russians had failed earlier also ended without a new trade accord, the end of the seventeenth century saw the Posol'skii Prikaz returning to its earliest place – a fact-finding mission. Semen Martinov syn Malen'kii left Astrakhan in 1695 to travel to Khiva, Bukhara, and then to Kabul in northern India.46 He also traveled with a translator as well as five strel'tsy to provide protection on his journey that suggests the purpose of his mission was different than the earlier trade embassies, which left without any instruction concerning military protection. Malen'kii's narrative recording his journey was modeled on Kotov's journey from the beginning of the century. It included an extensive description of the route and its physical geography, and made pointed comparisons toward the experiences of Syroezhin and Tushkanov who had traveled in 1646 and Kasimov's more recent journey in the 1670s. Malen'kii had clearly read all of the earlier correspondence as he summarized the travelers' accounts as well as the Posol'skii Prikaz's instructions.47 With this journey, Malen'kii effectively summarized the challenges of establishing regular trade with India, in its distance, dangerous routes, and the Russian embassies' failure to attract any support from the Indian or Iranian government. After a century of exchange, the sum total of Muscovite Russia's success in India and Iran seemed to be little to none.


     Despite the Posol'skii Prikaz's continuing failures, the travelers' records of their experiences in the Muslim south provide several insights into Muscovy's relationship with the outside world as well as Russian perceptions of foreigners. First, the Posol'skii Prikaz guided and documented much of the travel between Muscovy and Iran and India. In this sense, travel was not an individual experience for Russians so much as a century-long dialogue among the state and its representatives. It built upon pre-existing knowledge and observations in an attempt to improve Muscovy's relationship with the south. Second, the Muscovite government was effective in controlling their borders with their trade regulations, as seen in the protests and complaints from both Russian and foreign merchants. However, its improving position in controlling trade at home did little to nothing to improve its position with the Muslim states. Safavid Iran and Mughal India remained dominant and powerful trading nations. Much of the Muscovite merchants' failure in those countries arises from the basic fact that Russian had little to offer except words of "friendship and love," as had been proven by Syroezhin and Tushkanov's failure in 1646. The Russian proposal to support a new trade route through Bukhara was not of great interest to India, which had its own overseas trade connections with the West already well-established without any Russian involvement. Third, the geopolitical developments in the region affected Muscovy's interest. The Muscovite embassies were well-informed about the continuing tensions between India and Iran, but failed to use this information in any effective way to improve their own position. There can be no argument that Muscovite Russia was uninformed about the outside world. While the Russian government might not have been effective in using its information, certainly it possessed the necessary knowledge to make better decisions in the future.

     Perhaps more importantly, Muscovy's attempt to develop and regulate trade with the Middle East and South Asia also reveals a different angle on the process of early modern cross-cultural interactions. Muscovite Russia's ability to successfully negotiate with its European trade partners on a more or less equal footing, while largely incapable of accomplishing any of its goals to the south, demonstrates the value of reorienting the history of globalization to more fully include the narrative from the so-called "semi-periphery." The Muscovite economy's relative parity with Western Europe suggests it was contributing on an equal footing with Europe, and each country lacked notable accomplishments in Asia. While Pomeranz, Wong, Frank, and Parthasarathi have opted for a direct comparison between England and China (or India), the regions outside of their study can still contribute to the overall discussion of the "divergence" theory.48 Furthermore, the Russian experience of the Volga trade, in addition to the attempt to forge a new trade route through Bukhara, also complicates our understanding of the process of early modern globalization, which did not only run over seas and oceans. Grounding these macro-narratives in the individual experiences of merchants does not detract from the major thrust of world history narratives, but rather offers new ideas, nuance, and a fuller portrait of human endeavors in the past.

Matthew Romaniello is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa. His primary research interest concerns the Russian Empire's relationship with Islam, both internally with its Muslim subjects and externally with its imperial rivals in Ottoman Turkey, Safavid Iran, and Mughal India. He is currently working on a project focused on the consumption of tobacco in the Russian Empire as a means of uncovering Russia's global connections and cultural exchanges. His books include The Elusive Empire: Kazan and the Creation of Russia, 1552-1671, (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2012); Contested Spaces of the Early Modern Nobility, edited with Charles Lipp (Ashgate, 2009); and Tobacco in Russian History and Culture: From the Seventeenth Century to the Present, edited with Tricia Starks (Routledge, paperback edition, 2011). He can be contacted at


An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Department of History, Ohio State University, in March 2012. I thank the participants for their comments, as well as Mary Jane Maxwell, Marc Gilbert, and the anonymous reader for their suggestions.

1 Tonio Andrade, "A Chinese Farmer, Two African Boys, and a Warlord: Toward a Global Microhistory," The Journal of World History, 21 (2011): 573-91; Merry Wiesner-Hanks, "Crossing Borders in Transnational Gender History," The Journal of Global History, 6 (2011): 357-79.

2 Immanuel Wallerstein, The Modern World System, 4 vols.

3 R. Bin Wong, China Transformed: Historical Change and the Limits of European Experience (Ithaca, NY, 1997); Andre Gunder Frank, ReORIENT: Global Economy in the Asian Age (Berkeley, CA, 1998); Kenneth Pomeranz, The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy (Princeton, NJ, 2000).

4 See for example, the inclusion of the "divergence theory" in the recent Cambridge Economic History of Modern Europe, Vol. 1, 1700-1800 (Cambridge 2010); the debate in Historically Speaking in September 2011; as well as Prasannan Parthasarathi, Why Europe Grew Rich and Asia Did Not: Global Economic Divergence, 1600-1850 (Cambridge, 2011); Jean-Laurent Rosenthal and R. Bin Wong, Before and Beyond Divergence: The Politics of Economic Change in China and Europe (Cambridge, MA, 2011).

5 For an introduction to Russia's foreign trade, see Joseph T. Fuhrmann, The Origins of Capitalism in Russia: Industry and Progress in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Chicago, 1972), and J. T. Kotilaine, Russia's Foreign Trade and Economic Expansion in the Seventeenth Century: Windows on the World (Leiden, 2005).

6 All translations from Fedot Afansev syn Kotov, "Of a Journey to the Kingdom of Persia, from Persia to the Land of Turkey and to India and to Hormuz where the Ships Come," in trans. and ed. P. M. Kemp, Russian Travellers to India and Persia (1624-1798): Kotov, Yefremov, Danibegov (Dehli, 1959), 1-42. Russian original republished in Khozhenie kuptsa Fedota Kotova v Persiiu (Moscow, 1958).

7 N. I. Veselovskii, ed., Pamiatniki diplomaticheskikh i torgovykh snoshenii Moskovskoi Rusi s Persiei, T. III, Tsarstvovanie Mikhaila Feodoricha (St. Petersburg, 1898). Nor was the recent travel exceptional. For an earlier account, see Mary Jane Maxwell, "Afanasii Nikitin: An Orthodox Russian's Spiritual Voyage in the Dar al-Islam, 1468-1475," Journal of World History, 17 (2006), 243-66.

8 Kemp, Russian Travellers, 16-7.

9 Kemp, Russian Travellers, 35.

10 Kotov's reactions tend to be more moderate than other Europeans. See the discussion of European travelers and the Iranian coffeehouse in Rudi Matthee, "Coffee in Safavid Iran: Commerce and Consumption," Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 37 (1994), esp. 17-30.

11 Kemp, Russian Travellers, 36-7.

12 K. A. Antonova and N. M. Gol'berg, eds., Russko-Indiiskie otnosheniia v XVII v.: Sbornik dokumentov (Moscow, 1958), #15, between 1 March 12 and 12 July 1639, 40-3.

13 Antonova and Gol'berg, Russko-Indiiskie otnosheniia, #11, 24 June 1637, 33-7.

14 See for example, Antonova and Gol'berg, Russko-Indiiskie otnosheniia, #11, 24 June 1637, 33-7.

15 For a discussion of the Russian attempts in the Muslim south, see Matthew P. Romaniello, "'In friendship and love': Russian Travels to Muslim Lands in the Early Modern Era," The Historical Yearbook, VI (2009): 11-22.

16 There had been some success with fur. See the discussions of the trade in Stephen Frederic Dale, Indian Merchants and Eurasian Trade, 1600-1750, (New York, 1994), esp. chap. 4, and Rudolph P. Matthee, The Politics of Trade in Safavid Iran: Silk for Silver, 1600-1730, (New York, 1999), 27-32.

17 A. I. Iakovlev, ed., Tamozhennye knigi Moskovskogo gosudarstva XVII veka, I, (Moscow, 1950), Velikii Ustiug, 4 October 1633, 20, recorded his arrival from Siberia with pelts in Velikii Ustiug on his way to Vologda. Early the next year he arrived in Velikii Ustiug on his was to Iaroslavl' with Andrei Antipin and a shipment of silk, Tamozhennye knigi, I, Velikii Ustiug, 2 January 1634, 30. A year later, his arrival in Vologda with 150 rubles worth of silk was entered in its customs book, M. Ia. Volkov and E. B. Frantsuzova, eds., Tamozhennaia kniga goroda Vologdy, 1634-35gg. (Moscow, 1983), entry for 22 February 1635, 420. In April of 1635, Andreev arrived in Velikii Ustiug with several furs, and later that year sold 9 beaver pelts and 13 red fox for 30 rubles in town, Iakovlev, Tamozhennye knigi Moskovskogo gosudarstva, I, Velikii Ustiug, 8 April 1635, 158, and 9 October 1635, 166. His final appearance in the customs books was in February 1636 when he sold 100 rubles worth of silk in Ustiug on his way from Iaroslavl', Iakovlev, Tamozhennye knigi Moskovskogo gosudarstva, I, Velikii Ustiug, 9 February 1636, 177.

18 Antonova and Gol'berg, Russko-Indiiskie otnosheniia, #12, No earlier than 23 August 1638, 38-9.

19 The Muscovy Company was the first joint-stock company established in English history, in 1555. For an assessment its activities in Russia in the seventeenth century, see Maria Solomon Arel, "The Muscovy Company in the First Half of the Seventeenth Century: Trade and Position in the Russian State," (Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1995). The arrival of the Dutch in Muscovy also checked English success.

20 The National Archives, Kew, England (hereafter TNA), PRO 22/60, English Royal Letters in the Soviet Central State Archive of Ancient Records, 1557-1655, #33, 1 February 1626.

21 TNA, PRO 22/60, #38, 27 April 1629. The tsar did give his permission, though the Iranian Ambassador did not use this route to England due to his untimely death in Iran, TNA, PRO 22/60, #49, 5 January 1631.

22 Inna Lubimenko, "The Struggle of the Dutch with the English for the Russian Market in the Seventeenth Century," Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Series 4, 7 (1924): 27-51; S. I. Arkhangel'skii, "Anglo-Gollandskaia torgovlia s Moskvoi v XVII v.," Istoricheskii sbornik, 5 (1936): 5-38; E. Kh. Veinroks, "Mezhdunarodnaia konkurentsiia v torgovle mezhdu Rossiei i Zapadnoi Evropoi: 1560-1640," Russkii Sever i Zapadnaia Evropa, ed. Iu. N. Bespiatykh (St. Petersburg, 1999), 9-41; S. P. Orlenko, Vykhodtsy iz Zapadnoi Evropy v Rossii XVII veka: pravovoi status i real'noe polozhenie, (Moscow, 2004); Jan Willem Veluwenkamp, Arkhangel'sk: Niderlandskie predprinimateli v rossii, 1550-1785, trans, N. Mikaelian (Moscow, 2006).

23 The East Indies Company petitioned Charles I after the Dutch Treaty of 1619, asking for an English ambassador to Iran in order to equalize the Dutch advantage, TNA, CO 77/4, East Indies Original Correspondence, 1570-1856, ff. 135r.-136r., April 1629.

24 One of the first Dutch monopolies in Muscovy was for the export of tar, establishing the pattern for later Dutch monopolies in the seventeenth century. An English merchant in Moscow, Thomas Wyche, petitioned King Charles I for redress against the Dutch tar monopoly, TNA, SP 91/2, Secretaries of State: State Papers Foreign, Russia, f. 244r., 1633.

25 Antonova and Gol'berg, Russko-Indiiskie otnosheniia, #s 24-30, 1646-47, 48-73. This was not the only attempt to influence events in the south. The embassy to India followed one to Georgia, then under Iranian control. See M. Polievktov, Posol'stvo Kniazia Myshetskogo i d'iaka Kliuchareva v Kakhetiiu, 1640-1643 (Tiflis, 1928).

26 Antonova and Gol'berg, Russko-Indiiskie otnosheniia, #24, no later than 18 June 1646, 48.

27 Antonova and Gol'berg, Russko-Indiiskie otnosheniia, #24, no later than 18 June 1646, 51.

28 Antonova and Gol'berg, Russko-Indiiskie otnosheniia, #s 49-55, 1651-1667, 99-123. As before, this also coincided with the separate embassy to Georgia. See M. Polevktov, ed., Posol'stvo stol'nika Tolochanova i d'iaka Ievleva v Imeretiiu, 1650-52 (Tiflis, 1926).

29 Antonova and Gol'berg, Russko-Indiiskie otnosheniia, #50, 31 May 1651, 102.

30 Antonova and Gol'berg, Russko-Indiiskie otnosheniia, #50, 31 May 1651, 109.

31 For example, Antonova and Gol'berg, Russko-Indiiskie otnosheniia, #32, no later than 25 July 1648, 74-82; #54, May 1662, 116-8.

32 For example, Antonova and Gol'berg, Russko-Indiiskie otnosheniia, #55, no later than 15 May 1667, 118-23.

33 Antonova and Gol'berg, Russko-Indiiskie otnosheniia, #64, May 1662, 137-9.

34 In exile from England, the future King Charles II asked for the revocation of the tax-free status, to punish his rebellious subjects. TNA, PRO 22/60, #75, 16 September 1648.

35 Polnoe sobranie zakonov Rossiiskoi Imperii, Vol. 1 (St. Petersburg, 1830), #408, 22 April 1667, 651-65. For a discussion of the Code, see E. V. Chistiakova, "Novotorgovnyi ustav 1667 goda," Arkheograficheskii ezhegodnik za 1957 god, (Moscow, 1958), 102-26; Dale, Indian Merchants, 95-8, and Kotilaine, Russia's Foreign Trade, 220-5. For the English reaction, see TNA, SP 91/3, Part 2, f. 222r., 4 December 1676

36 Russian State Archive of Ancient Acts, Moscow (hereafter RGADA), f. 16, Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv, r. XVI, Vnutrennee upravlenie, op. 1, d. 709, ll. 100-101, 22 March 1677.

37 Bukharans were involved with both large, organized caravans and specific, individual arragnements. For some examples of the range of options, see Nizhnii Novgorod v XVII veke, #46-48, 4 December 1633-11 March 1634, 82-4; and N. B. Golikova, Ocherki po istorii gorodov Rossii kontsa XVII-nachala XVIII v., (Moscow, 1982), 164.

38 For a discussion of the transition, see Matthew P. Romaniello, The Elusive Empire: Kazan and the Creation of Russia, 1552-1671 (Madison, WI, 2012), 112-6.

39 RGADA, f. 159, Prikaznye dela novoi razborki, op. 2, Posol'skii prikaz, d. 328, 29 March 1677.

40 Antonova and Gol'berg, Russko-Indiiskie otnosheniia, #172, 29 September 1677 and 8 October 1677, 276-7.

41 Antonova and Gol'berg, Russko-Indiiskie otnosheniia, #98, 28 July 1672, 174-9.

42 For example, the English attempted to both pressure the tsar through the Muscovy Company and with direct appeals from the King to the Tsar. NA, SP 91/3, Part 2, ff. 210r-212v, "Instructions from the Right Woell. the Governor and fellowship of English Merchants for Discovery of New Trades, Usually called the Muscovia Company, unto John Hebdon Esq., London," 16 September 1676; and SP 91/3, Part 2, ff. 217r/v, Letter from Charles II to Feodor Aleksevich, 16 September 1676.

43 The new regulations were sufficiently effective to the point that the customs records for merchants leaving from Astrakhan into Russia carried numerous trade goods from Armenia, Iran, and India, but in the hands of Russian merchants from major trade centers such as Nizhnii Novgorod, Moscow, Rostov, Kazan', and Murom. See Knigi Moskovskoi bol'shoi tamozhni: Novgorodskaia, Astrakhanskaia, Malorossiiskaia, 1693-1694 gg. (Moscow, 1961), 64-76.

44 Antonova and Gol'berg, Russko-Indiiskie otnosheniia, #s 107-137, 1675-1716, 189-236.

45 Antonova and Gol'berg, Russko-Indiiskie otnosheniia, #134, no later than 22 February 1678, 226.

46 Antonova and Gol'berg, Russko-Indiiskie otnosheniia, #s 251-260, pp. 1695-1716, 356-377.

47 Antonova and Gol'berg, Russko-Indiiskie otnosheniia, #252, after 7 May 1695, 357-360.

48 See notes 3 and 4.


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