Simon Dreher and Wolfgang Mueller, "Foreigners in Muscovy: Western Immigrants in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Russia" (Routledge, 2023)


This interview delves into a book that is indebted to the scholarly work with which New Books Network founder, Marshall Poe, began his career: ‘A People Born to Slavery’: Russia in Early Modern European Ethnography, 1476–1748 (Cornell UP, 2000), a seminal critical study of perceptions of Russia as derived from early modern foreigners’ accounts.

Between the late fifteenth and early eighteenth centuries, the State of Muscovy emerged from being a rather homogenous Russian-speaking and Orthodox medieval principality to becoming a multi-ethnic and multi-religious empire. Not only the conquest of the neighboring Tatar Khanates and the colonization of Siberia demanded the integration of non-Christian populations into the Russian state. The ethnic composition of the capital and other towns also changed due to Muscovite policies of recruiting soldiers, officers, and specialists from various European countries, as well as the accommodation of merchants and the resettlement of war prisoners and civilians from annexed territories. The presence of foreign immigrants was accompanied by controversy and conflicts, which demanded adaptations not only in the Muscovite legal, fiscal, and economic systems but also in the everyday life of both native citizens and immigrants.

This book combines two major research fields on international relations in the State of Muscovy: the migration, settlement, and integration of Western Europeans, and Russian and European perceptions of the respective "other".

Your Host

Erika Monahan

Erika Monahan is the author of The Merchants of Siberia: Trade in Early Modern Eurasia (Cornell UP, 2016) and a 2023-2024 Alexander von Humboldt Fellow

View Profile