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Russia Engages the World, 1453-1825
1453 Through the Reign of Ivan the Terrible (1533-1584) The Time of Troubles to the First Romanovs (1598-1682) Peter the Great and His Legacy (1682-1762) The Age of Catherine the Great (1762-1801) The Reign of Emperor Alexander I (1801-1825)


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Olearius' Commentaries on Muscovy in the 1630s and 1640s
Avvakum's Account of His Sufferings

Russia's Globalization:
A Key

Events marked Russia Symbol are specific to Muscovy/Russia's internal development.
Those marked World Symbol are important world historical or cultural events.
Engagement Symbol indicates specific points of sociocultural or military engagement between Muscovy/Russia and foreign powers or individuals.



    Olearius' Commentaries on Muscovy in the 1630s and 1640s

The Holsteinian ambassador Adam Olearius (1603–1671) visited Muscovy four times in the 17th century. Because he spoke the language, he mingled with the population and provided a very popular traveler’s account of life in Russia. Like any outsider, he noted the differences between the “eastern” Russians and the “western” Europeans.

They much esteem great beards (when the mustaches hide the mouth) as also great bellies; so that those who are well furnished about the mouth, and have good fat pouches, are very considerable among them. The gostis, or the Great Duke's merchants, whom we found in the antechamber, when we were brought to our public audience, had been chosen particularly for those two perfections, for the greater honor of their prince.

The great lords shave their heads; persons of lower condition cut their hair, and priests and others belonging to the church, wear their hair so long, that it hangs down over their shoulders to half their backs…. The women are well proportioned; neither too big, nor too little: having passibly good faces, but they paint so palpably, that if they laid it on with a brush, and had a handful of meal cast in their faces when they had done, they could not disfigure themselves as much as the paint does. But the custom is so general, that the most handsome must comply…. So that painting is so common in Moscovy, that when any are to be married, the bridegroom, that is to be, sends among other presents some paint to his bride.

From: Adam Olearius, Voyages and Travells of the Ambassadors Sent by Frederick Duke of Holstein to the Great Duke of Muscovy and the King of Persia … Containing a Complete History of Muscovy, Tartary, Persia, and Other Adjacent Countries…. The Second Edition Correction. London, 1669. Reprinted in: Medieval Russia: A Source Book, 850–1700. Ed. Basil Dmytryshyn. Gulf Breeze, Fla.: Academic International Press, 2000.
Reprinted courtesy of Academic International Press

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