Muscovy Company

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Muscovy Company

(mŭs`kəvē) or

Russia Company,

first major English joint-stock trading company. It began in 1553 as a group supporting exploration of a possible northeast passage to Asia. An expedition under Richard ChancellorChancellor, Richard,
d. 1556, English navigator. When, largely under the inspiration of Sebastian Cabot, a group of men in England undertook to finance a search for the Northeast Passage to Asia, Chancellor was chosen as second in command under Sir Hugh Willoughby.
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 reached the White Sea, and Chancellor himself continued overland to Moscow. The company was chartered in 1555, with a monopoly on the newly opened Russian trade, and between 1562 and 1579 it financed expeditions to establish overland trade routes to Persia. In 1646, English merchants were excluded from Russia, but trade reopened on the restoration (1660) of Charles II, and the company was reorganized as a regulated company. It lost its monopoly, long a subject of political opposition, in 1698 but continued in existence until 1917.


See T. S. Willan, The Early History of the Russia Company (1956, repr. 1968).

Muscovy Company


(Russian Company), an English trading company that was granted a charter by the English government in 1554 permitting it to monopolize trade with the Russian state. The Russian tsar Ivan IV, seeking to expand political ties with England and other Western European countries, exempted the Muscovy Company from the payment of duties on its trade with the Russian state. Later, in 1569, he granted the company the right to transport goods along the Volga trade route to the Orient. In 1570, Ivan IV temporarily revoked all the privileges of the Muscovy Company after the English queen Elizabeth I refused to enter into political negotiations with the Russian ambassadors. The Muscovy Company attempted to monopolize the Russian market, having eliminated all competitors, especially the Dutch. During the Polish-Swedish intervention in Russia, agents of the Muscovy Company devised a plan for the seizure of northern Russia and of the Volga trade route; the failure of the intervention, however, foiled the plan. After its agents were expelled from Russia in 1649, the Muscovy Company virtually ceased activity.

References in periodicals archive ?
It should not be forgotten that in the beginning of the enthusiasm over the Eastern trade, the Muscovy trading Company had included, in its list of shareholders, such powerful men as the Queen's councillors, Walsingham and William Cecil.
It is tempting to compare these descriptions of the riches of the Middle Eastern regions with Hakluyt's publications of the commercial affairs of the Muscovy trading company in the same areas.