UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


Shahid Hussain

Shahid Hussain

Supervisors: Dr Sergei Bogatyrev and Professor Jason Peacey

Present Status: PhD Candidate

Working title of thesis: Patronage, Networks, Connections: English Diplomatic Representatives to Muscovy in the 17th Century

Research: My research aims to develop a novel view of Anglo-Russian relations in the early modern period. To do this, I intend to move beyond the approach of ‘high politics’, and examine Anglo-Russian relations (and ambassadorial missions) from the perspective of patronage and networking. Partly, I will do this by answering key questions such as: Who was a diplomat? Why were envoys sent to Muscovy? What did they do abroad? And who were they serving?  

I hope to show that English diplomats to Russia were not sent because of their ‘conventional’ political skills. Instead, they were selected because of their less traditional talents in the ‘lower’ politics of commerce, business, trade, and finance. This may explain why their patrons and contacts chose them for a mission to Russia. If we can understand this, this then serves as a better basis to comprehend what diplomats actually did in Muscovy. Often, English envoys engaged in ‘lesser’ politics, such as resolving commercial disputes through political channels, or gathering information, for the very patrons and connections who sent them in the first place. Arguably, this approach will give us a better ‘way’ to understand England’s relations with, and its embassies to, the Tsar’s court.