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"Archangel," from Enyclopaedia Britannica (1797), II

{207} ARCHANGEL, a city of Russia, in the province of Dwina, situated on the east side of the river Dwina, about six miles from the White Sea, in E. Long. 40. 21. N. Lat. 64. 30. The city extends about three miles in length and one in breadth. It is rich, populous, built in the modern taste, and is a metropolitan see. It rose from a castle built on the spot by Basilowitz II. to protect the increasing trade brought there by the discovery of the White Sea by the English, and took its name from a monastery built in honour of the archangel Michael. Before this period the commercial intercourse between Russia and the northern parts of Europe had been carried on by the Hanseatic towns; which usually sailed to Revel or Narva, and from thence passed through Dorpt to Plescof and Novogorod, where their factories were established. The accidental discovery of Archangel, in 1553, deprived the Hanseatic towns of a great part of this lucrative commerce, and transferred it to the English. On the 11th of May, in the above mentioned year, three ships sailed from Depthford, in order to explore the northern seas, under the command of Sir Hugh Willoughby. Two of these vessels penetrated as high as the 72 degree of latitude, to the coast of Spitzbergen; and being afterwards forced by stress of weather into the bay of the river Arzina in Russian Lapland, both their crews were frozen to death. Richard Chancellor, who commanded the other ship, called the Bonaventure, discovering the country bordering upon the White Sea, landed near the mouth of the Dwina, in a bay, which he denominated the Bay of St Nicholas, from a convent of that name near the present port of Archangel. The czar Ivan Basilowitz, being informed of his arrival, invited him to his court, where he was hospitably entertained, and the czar indulged the English with a free trade in his dominions: in consequence of this permission, a company of merchants was incorporated in London; and being encouraged by particular privileges from the czar, set on foot a considerable commerce, to the mutual advantage of both nations. This traffic the English for some time enjoyed without competition. The Dutch, however, and other nations, gradually insinuated themselves into this commerce; which they carried on to a very great disadvantage, as not being favoured with those privileges which the czar had granted to the English company. These were at last suddenly annihilated by Alexis Michaelovitch; who in 1648 banished the English merchants from all his dominions. The cause of the expulsion is generally imputed to the resentment which the czar conceived against the English for the execution of Charles I. with whom he was closely connected by leagues of amity and alliance: but in effect he abolished the company's privileges in the year before that event; and his indignation against the English for their rebellion, Mr Coxe affirms, was only a political pretext; the real motive being derived from the offers made by the Dutch to pay duties of export and import, to the amount of 15 per cent. if they were indulged with the liberty of carrying on as free a trade as the English throughout his dominions. For not long afterwards, the czar suffered William Prideaux, Cromwell's agent, to reside at Archangel; and permitted the English to renew their commerce in that port upon the same footing with other foreigners. And upon this footing alone our merchants ever after continued to trade.

The commodities chiefly imported into Archangel, were gold and silver stuffs and laces, gold wire, cochineal, indigo, and other drugs for dyeing; wine, brandy, and other distilled spirits. The customs arising to the czar were computed at 200,000 rubles a-year, and the number of foreign ships at 400 annually. But upon the building of Petersburg, Peter the Great abolished the immunities of Archangel, and removed the commerce of the White Sea to the havens of the Baltic. Still, however, its exports of tar were considerable; in 1730, to the amount of 40,000 lasts, of 11 barrels each. It sends, during winter, great quantities of the rawaga, a small species of three-finned cod, to Petersburg frozen.

In 1752 Elizabeth again restored the ancient immunities of Archangel; and its present trade is not inconsiderable. It supplies the government of Archangel, part of those of Nishnei-Novogorod and Casan, with European commodities; and draws in exchange from those parts of corn, flax, hemp, coarse linen, cordage, sails, masts, and tallow, which are mostly conveyed by the Dwina: it forms also a principal communication with the northern and western parts of Siberia, from whence the merchants procure furs, skins, and iron.

The houses of Archangel are generally of wood, but well contrived; and every chamber is provided with a stove, as a fence against the cold, which is here excessive in the winter. The streets are paved with broken pieces of timber and rubbish, disposed so unskillfully, that one cannot walk over it without running the risk of falling, except when the streets are rendered smooth and equal by the snow that falls and freezes in the winter. Notwithstanding the severity of the cold in this place, there is always plenty of good provisions; butcher's meat, poultry, wild fowl, and fish, in great variety, are sold surprisingly cheap.

The most remarkable edifice in Archangel is a large town-house, built of square stones in the Italian manner, and divided into three parts. One of these consists of large commodious apartments, for the accommodation of merchants, strangers as well as natives: here they are permitted to reside with their merchandise till the month of October, when all the foreign ships set sail for the respective countries to which they belong. Then the traders are obliged to remove their quarters from the town-house or palace, which hath a spacious court, that reaches down to the river.