Muscovy Company

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The Muscovy Company (also called the Russian Company or the Muscovy Trading Company, ), was a trading company chartered in 1555. It was the first major chartered joint stock company, the precursor of the type of business that would soon flourish in England, and became closely associated with such famous names as Henry Hudson and William Baffin. The Muscovy Company had a monopoly on trade between England and Muscovy until 1698 and it survived as a trading company until the Russian Revolution of 1917. Since 1917 the company has operated as a charity, now working within Russia.


The Muscovy Company traces its roots to the Company of Merchant Adventurers to New Lands (in full: 'Mystery and Company of Merchant Adventurers for the Discovery of Regions, Dominions, Islands, and Places unknown') founded in 1551 by Richard Chancellor, Sebastian Cabot and Sir Hugh Willoughby, who decided to look for the Northeast Passage to China.

The first expedition of the Company of Merchant Adventurers was led by Willoughby, who seems to have been chosen for his leadership skills and unfortunately had no prior nautical or navigational experience. Chancellor would function as the navigator of the small fleet, which consisted of three ships: the Bona Esparanza under Willoughby, the Edward Bonaventure under Chancellor and the Bona Confidentia. The fleet departed from London on 10 May 1553, but near the Lofoten islands the ships...
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