Anthony Jenkinson

Anthony Jenkinson was a 16th century English merchant and explorer. He wrote maps and works on Russia and met Ivan the Terrible several times.

Anthony Jenkinson (1530–1609) was the first European to travel widely in Russia and Central Asia, leading overland expeditions in the hope of establishing trade. He wrote about his travels in several different works. His 1562 map of Russia was incorporated into Abraham Orteluis’s groundbreaking atlas of 1570, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theatre of the Lands of the World).

What was Jenkinson’s background?

Jenkinson was born in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, and was the son of a rich family. He worked for the Muscovy Company, an English trading company, and made many trips to the Muscovy (Moscow) region of Russia.

What was Jenkinson’s link to Ivan the Terrible?

Ivan IV, called Ivan the Terrible, was the formidable Tsar of Russia, 1547–84. Jenkinson met him several times, with the first meeting in 1562 to talk trade terms. Jenkinson made a positive impression on Ivan, who gave extensive trading rights to the Muscovy Company. The relationship was a mutually beneficial one, with Jenkinson trading commodities on Ivan’s behalf in Persia and Central Asia.

The pair met again when Jenkinson returned to Russia in 1572 by order of Queen Elizabeth I. He successfully helped to reinstate trade privileges between Russia and England, which Ivan had revoked in 1568.

What was Jenkinson’s legacy?

He reached Astrakhan (900 miles south-east of Moscow in the Volga-Caspian basin of the Russian Federation), Bukhara (in the modern Republic of Uzbekistan) and Kazan (in the Republic of Tatarstan of the Russian Federation). His detailed accounts of the journeys provided much-needed new information about these regions and their inhabitants.

His Russian maps were incorporated into Abraham Ortelius’s Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theatre of the Lands of the World). His voyages were also related in Richard Hakluyt’s Principal Navigations, first published in 1589. His detailed letters also give real insight into what Russia was like during the reign of Ivan the Terrible.