When English sailors set out in 1553 seeking an easterly sea passage to China round the northern capes of Scandinavia, they made an unexpected discovery. Like Christopher Columbus and America sixty years earlier, they encountered a large, uncharted land mass barring their progress. They had not intended to 'discover' Russia; it was totally accidental and unexpected. Yet this chance encounter was to lead to not only a remarkable relationship between Britain and Russia but also the eventual involvement of thousands of British men and women in Tsarist Russia's future social, military, cultural and economic development. No other country can claim to have had such a continuous, diverse and widespread influence on Russia and its institutions as the British between the 16th and 20th centuries. This initially accidental encounter also had a profound influence on both countries' relationships with the rest of the world. It is highly probable that neither empire would have been able to progress in the way they ultimately did without this accidental relationship, Whether they came as traders or explorers, soldiers, doctors and nurses, artists, builders, politicians or spies, governesses and missionaries, the British were active right across this vast country from the Baltic to the Black Sea and from the Caucasus to Siberia. Some came as visitors, others arrived to work and raise families there. Some were fascinated by the country whilst many others loathed it, finding the Russians uncultured and extremely corrupt. A successful few made their fortunes or achieved great honours, others experienced bad luck or extreme hardship and many died there. Over the generations, a large number of Anglo-Russian families became established in Russia, often interlinked by marriage or business interests and they helped introduce the country to many aspects of traditional British life, especially the love of sport. The trauma and tragedy of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution and subsequent Russian civil war caused most of the British to leave, resulting in a sad and acrimonious end to the 360 year relationship between the two world's two largest empires. This is the fascinating story of the remarkable lives and experiences of the British in Tsarist Russia.
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- ID: 9781849635868
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