Grigorii Karpovich Kotoshikhin (b. ca. 1630, d. ca. 1667) was a Russian official under the Romanov dynasty. He worked for the department of foreign affairs under the Ambassadorial Chancellery until he fled the country in 1664, fearing for his life, and political reputation.

In 1663, Kotoshikhin became a paid informant for the royal family of Sweden. The following year suspicions of his treading grew, though then tsar Alex Mikhailovich Romanov did not believe the rumors. The story of Kotoshikhin's ousting is remarkable.

Upon arrival in Stockholm, the defector was commissioned to write a description of his native land. The result was a manuscript of unique value to scholars of seventeenth-century Russia, both for its breadth and depth of description: On Russia in the Reign of Alexy Mikhailovich. It is claimed that the text is unequalled by historical accounts of the time, as no Muscovite ever wrote so prolificly on his homeland, and no foreigner with such splendid knowledge and precision as Kotoshikhin. The text focuses mainly on those aspects of diplomacy and Russian life with which Kotoshikhin himself was acquainted: the royal family itself, the ceremonies and functioning of the royal court (gosudarev dvor), foreign policy protocols and a description of the chancelleries (to which the author devoted 5 of the 13 chapters), and the general structure and forms of the Russian governmental bodies. There are shorter, but richer, details on the royal army, the extension of royal rule across the nation (voevody), and the customs of the upper class.

This document is invaluable to the historian. Unfortunately the only complete translation was made into Swedish in 1669 (last date of publishing, 1908). Only excerpts have been published in English and the last publication of the original Russian was in 1980 by Clarendon Press. A contemporary English translation is the current work of the historian Marshall Poe.

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.