Certain Observaunt Touching the City and the Empire of Muscovia: An Unknown English Description of Russia and Its Author





foreign descriptions of Russia, George Reade, Muscovy Company, German Quarter, Smolensk War, English colonies in North America


This article publishes and analyses Certain Observaunt Touching the City and the Empire of Muscovia (ca. 1634), a previously unknown anonymous English description of Russia, and two letters from the National Archives, London, related to it. The Observaunt includes eight paragraphs dedicated to printing and education in Russia, the activities of Greek monks in Moscow, the country’s geography, the organisation of the Ambassadorial Chancery, foreigners’ rebaptising into the Orthodox faith, and Europeans’ trade and church activities. The anonymous author of the text appears to have been an intellectual concerned with the preservation and dissemination of bookish learning and a critic of the low morals of the inhabitants of the city’s foreign quarters. Along with the Observaunt, two letters are held in the same archival file. These were sent by a George Reade, an Englishman, to his brother Robert from Moscow in June 1634. Reade informs his correspondent about his life in Moscow and his unsuccessful attempts to import pearls into Russia: he briefly mentions the Smolensk War, which ended in 1634, and a great fire in Moscow the same year. Using the findings of Russian and international scholars, the article identifies most of the foreigners mentioned by Reade, both Englishmen and Germans. Based on Reade’s letters and studies of British and American historians, the author reconstructs Reade’s biography. In conclusion, the article discusses the hypothesis about Reade’s authorship of the Observaunt. The article contains the original English text of the Observaunt and Reade’s letters with a Russian translation.

Author Biography

Oleg Rusakovsky

PhD, Research Fellow, HSE University.

20, Myasnitskaya Str., 101000, Moscow, Russia.

ORCID 0000-0001-7065-2993



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How to Cite

Rusakovsky, O. (2022). Certain Observaunt Touching the City and the Empire of Muscovia: An Unknown English Description of Russia and Its Author. Quaestio Rossica, 10(1), 255–272. https://doi.org/10.15826/qr.2022.1.670