Of the Russe common wealth. Or, Maner of gouernement of the Russe emperour, (commonly called the Emperour of Moskouia) with the manners, and fashions of the people of that countrey.

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Of the Russe common wealth. Or, Maner of gouernement of the Russe emperour, (commonly called the Emperour of Moskouia) with the manners, and fashions of the people of that countrey.
Fletcher, Giles, 1549?-1611.
At London :: Printed by T[homas] D[awson] for Thomas Charde,

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Soviet Union -- Early works to 1800.
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"Of the Russe common wealth. Or, Maner of gouernement of the Russe emperour, (commonly called the Emperour of Moskouia) with the manners, and fashions of the people of that countrey." In the digital collection Early English Books Online. https://name.umdl.umich.edu/A00947.0001.001. University of Michigan Library Digital Collections. Accessed June 13, 2024.


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The Emperours customes Of the Emperours customes and other Reuenues. (Book 12)

The 12. Chapter. (Book 12)

FOR the receyuing of cu∣stomes,* 1.1 and other rentes belonging to the Crowne, there are appoynted di∣uers vnder officers, which deliuer ouer the same in∣to the head treasurie. The first is the office of Dwoertsoua or Steward of the housholde. The second is the office of the Chetfirds: which I comprehend vn∣der one, though it bee diuided into foure se∣uerall partes, as was sayd before. The third is called Bulsha prechode, or the great In∣come.

As touching the first,* 1.2 which is the of∣fice of the Steward, it receyueth all the rents of the Emperours inheritance, or Crowne lande, whiche they call Vochin. The Vo∣chin or Crowne lande conteyneth in it 36. townes with the territories or hundreds belonging vnto them. Whereof the chiefe that yeeld the greatest rents are these: A∣lexandrisca, Corelska, Otfer, Sloboder, Daniels∣ka, Moisalskoy, Chara, Sametska, Strararouse,

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ransoue, &c. The inhabitants or tenants of these and the other townes, pay some rent money, some other rent dueties (called O∣brokey) as certeine Chetfirds, or measures of graine, wheate, rye, barley, oates, &c. or of other victuall, as Oxen, Sheepe, Swannes, Geese, Hares, Hennes, wild fowle, Fish, Hay, Wood, Honie, &c. Some are bound to sowe for the Emperours prouision certaine Akers of ground, and to make the corne ready for his vse: hauing for it an allowance of cer∣taine akers of ground for their owne proper vse.

This prouision for the houshold, specially of graine serued in by the Tenants, is a great deale more then is spent in his house, or in other allowance serued out in liuerie, or for the Emperours honour, called Schalouaney: for which vse there is bestowed very much both in graine, and other victuall. This sur∣plus of prouision is sold by the Steward to the best hand, and runneth into the Empe∣rours treasurie.

In the time of Iuan Vasilowich, father to this Emperour (who kept a more Princely & bountiful house then the Emperour now doth) this ouerplus of graine, and other in∣comes into the Stewardes office, yeelded to his treasurie not past 60. thousand rubbels yeerely, but riseth now by good husbanding

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of the Steward Gregory Vasilowich Godonoe, to 230. thousand rubbels a yere. And this by the meanes of the Empresse, and her kinred, specially (Borris Fedorowich Godonoe) that ac∣count it al their owne that runneth into the Emperors treasure. Much of this surplusage that riseth out of the rent prouision, is em∣ploied to the paimēt of the wages of his hou∣shold officers, which are very many atten∣ding at home, and purueying abroad.

The second office of receipt called the Chetfirds,* 1.3 (being deuided into foure seuerall partes, as before was sayde) hath foure head officers: which besides the ordering and gouernment of the shires conteyned with∣in their seuerall Chedfirds, haue this also as a part of their office,* 1.4 to receiue the Tag∣la and Podat belonging to the Emperour, that riseth out of the foure Chetfirds or Quarters. The Tagla is a yeerely rent or imposition raysed vpon euery Wite or mea∣sure of graine, that groweth within the land, gathered by sworne men, and brought into the office. The Wite conteyneth sixtie Chet∣firds. Euery Chetfird is three bushelles En∣glish, or little lesse. The Podat is an or∣dinarie rent of money imposed vpon eue∣rie soake, or Hundred within the whole Realme.

This Tagla and Podat bring in yeerely

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to the Offices of the Chetfirdes a greate summe of money: as may appeare by the particulars heere set downe. The towne and Prouince of Vobsko, pay yeerely for Tagla & Podat about 18000. rubbels. Nouo∣grod 35000. rubbels. Torshocke & Otfer 8000. rubbels. Razan 30000. rubbels. Morum 12000. rubbels. Colmigroe and Duyna 8000. rubbels. Vologda 12000. rubbels. Cazan 18000 rubb. Vstiug 30000. rubbels. Rostoue 50000. The citie of Mosko 40000. rubbels. Sibier∣skoy 20000. rubbels. Castrome 12000. rub∣bels. The totall amounteth to 400000. rubbels, or markr a yeere, which is brought in yeerely the first day of September, that is reckoned by them the first day of the yeere.

The thirde (that is called the Bulsha Pre∣chod,* 1.5 or great Income) receyueth all the customes that are gathered out of all the priucipall townes and Cities within the whole Realme. Besides, the fees and o∣ther dueties which rise out of diuers smal∣ler Offices, which are all brought into this office of Bulsha Prechod. The townes of moste trade that doe yeelde greatest cu∣stome, are these heere sette downe. Mo∣sko, Smolensko, Vobsko, Nouogrod Velica, Strararouse, Torshocke, Otfer, Yaruslaue, Ca∣strome, Nesna Nouogrod, Cazan, Vologda. This

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custome out of the great townes is therefore more certaine, and easie to be reckoned, be∣cause it is set and rated precisely what they shal pay for the custome of the yeere Which needes must bee paide into the saide office, though they receiue not so much. If it fal out to be more, it runneth al into the Emperours aduantage.

The custome at Mosko for euerie yeere,* 1.6 is 12000. rubbels. The custome of Smolensko, 8000. Vobsko 12000. rubbels. Nouogrod velica 6000. rubbels. Stararouse by salt and other commodities 18000. rubbels. Torshock 800. rubbels. Otfer 700. rubbels. Yarusslaue 1200 rubbels. Castrome 1800. rubbels. Nesna No∣uogrod 7000. rubbels. Cazan 11000. rub∣bels. Vologda 2000. rubbels. The custome of the rest that are townes of trade, is some∣times more, sometimes lesse as their traffike, and dealings with commodities too and fro, falleth out for the yeere.

This may bee saide for certaine,* 1.7 that the three tables of receipts belonging to this of∣fice of Bulsha Prechod, when they receiue lest, account for thus much, vz. The first table 160000. rubbels. The second table 90000. rubbels. The third 70000. rubbels. So that there commeth into the office of Bulsha Pre∣chod, at the least reckoning (as appeareth by their bookes of customs) out of these and o∣ther

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townes, and maketh the summe of 340000. rubbles a yeere. Besides this cu∣stome out of the townes of trade, there is receiued by this office of Bulsha Prechod, the yeerely rent of the common Bathstoaues, & Cabacks or drinking houses, which pertein to the Emperour, Which (though it be vn∣certaine for the iust summe, yet because it is certaine and an ordinary matter, that the Russe wil bath himselfe aswel within as with∣out) yeeldeth a large rent to the Emperours treasurie.

There is besides,* 1.8 a certeine mulct or pe∣naltie that groweth to the Emperour out of euery iudgement, or sentence that passeth in any of his courts of Record in all ciuill mat∣ters. This penaltie, or mulct is 20. Dingoes or pence vpon euery rubble or marke, and so ten in the hundred. Which is paide by the partie that is conuict by lawe. Hee hath be∣sides for euery name conteyned in the writs that passe out of these courts, fiue Alteens. An Alteen is fiue pence sterling, or there a∣bouts. This is made good out of the office, whence the writ is taken foorth. Thence it goeth to the office that keepeth the lesser seale, where it payeth as much more to the Emperours vse. This riseth commonly to 3000. rubbels a yeere, or thereabouts. Far∣ther also out of the office of Roisbonia, where

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all fellonies are tried, is receiued for the Em∣perour the halfe part of fellons goodes the other halfe goeth the one part to the infor∣mer, the other to the officers.

All this is brought into the office of Bul∣sha Prechod, or great income. Besides the o∣uerplus or remainder that is saued out of the land rents, allotted to diuers other offices: as namely to the office called Roserade, which hath landes and rentes assigned vnto it to pay the yeerely salaries of the souldiers, or horsemen, that are kept still in pay. Which in time of peace when they rest at home not employed in anie seruice, is commonly cut off and payde them by halfes, some∣times not the halfe: so that the remain∣der out of the Roserade Office that is layde into the Emperours treasurie, commeth for the most part euerie yeere to 250000. rub∣bels.

In like sort (though not so much) is brought in the surplus out of the Strellets∣koy offices which hath proper lands for the payment of the Strelsey men or gunners, as∣well those at Mosko, that are of the Empe∣rors gard (12000. in ordinary) as on the bor∣ders, and other garrison townes and castels. Likewise out of the office of Prechase, Shisi∣uoy Nemshoy which hath set allowance of landes to mainteine the forreyne mercena∣rie

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souldiers, as Poles, Sweadens, Doutches, Scots, &c. So out of the office of Pusharskoy, (which hath lands and rents allowed for the prouision of munition, great Ordinance, pow∣der, Shot, Salpeeper, Brimstone, Ledde, and such like) there is left somewhat at the yeres ende, that runneth into the treasurie. All these bring into the office of Bulsha Pre∣chod that which remaineth in their hand at the yeeres end. Whence it is deliuered into the Emperours treasurie. So that the whole summe that groweth to this office of Bul∣sha Prechod, or the great income (as appea∣reth by the bookes of the said office) amoun∣teth to 800000. rubbels a yeere, or therea∣bouts.

All these offices,* 1.9 to wit, the office of the Steward, the foure Chetfirds, and the Bul∣sha Prechod deliuer in their receiptes to the head treasurie, that lyeth within the Empe∣rours house or castle at the Mosko. Where lye all his moneyes, iewels, crownes, scep∣ters, plate, and such like, the chests, hutches, and bagges beyng signed by the Emperonrs themselues with their owne seale. Though at this time the L Borris Federowich Godonoe his seale and ouersight supplieth for the Em∣peror, as in al other things. The vnder officer at this time is one Stepan Vasilowich Godo∣noe, Coosin germane to the sayde Borris,

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who hath two Clearkes allowed to serue vn∣der him in the office.

  • The sūme that gro∣weth to the Em∣peroures treasurie in money onely, for euerie yeere.
    • 1 Out of the Stew∣ards office aboue the expense of his house 23000. rubbels.* 1.10
    • 2 Out of the foure Chetfirds for soake & head money 400000 rubbels.
    • 3 Out of the Bulsha Precod Office, or great incoome, for custome and other rents. 800000 rub¦bels.
      • Summe 1430000 rub¦bles cleere, besides all charges for his house, & ordinary sa∣leries of his souldiers o∣therwise dis∣charged.

But besides this reuenue that is paid all in money to the Emperours treasurie he recei∣ueth yeerely in furres, and other dueties to a great value out of Siberia, Pechora, Permia, and other places, which are solde or bartred away for other forreine commodities to the Turkish Persian, Armenian, Georgian and Bou∣gharian Marchants that trade within his coū∣tries, besides others of Christendome. What it maketh in the whole (though the value can not be set downe precisely, as being a thing casual as the commodity may be got) it may

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be gessed by that which was gathered the last yeere out of Siberia for the Emperours custome, vz. 466. timber of Sables, fiue tim∣ber of Martrones, 180. blacke Foxes, besides other commodities.

To these may bee added their seazures, and confiscations vpon such as are in dis∣pleasure, which riseth to a great summe Be∣sides other their extraordinary impositions, and exactions done vpon their officers, Mo∣nasteries, &c. not for any apparant necessity or vse of the Prince, or common wealth, but of will and custome: yet with some pretence of a Scythian, that is, grosse and barbarous pollicie (as may appeare) by these fewe So∣phismata, or counterfeit pollicies, put in pra∣ctise by the Emperours of Russia, all tending to this end to robbe their people, and to in∣rich their treasurie. To this purpose this by∣word was vsed by the late Emperour Iuan Vasilowich: That his people were like to his beard. The oftner shauen, the thicker it would grow. Or like sheepe, that must needes be shorne once a yeere at the leasst: to keepe them from being ouer laden with their wooll.


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