Russian Fur Trade
Before the colonization of the Americas, Russia was a major supplier of fur-pelts to Western Europe and parts of Asia. Fur was a major Russian export as trade developed in the Early Middle Ages ( 500-1000 AD/CE ), first through the Baltic and Black Seas. The main trading destination was the German city of Leipzig.
Originally, Russia exported a majority in raw furs of the pelts of martens, beavers, wolves, foxes, squirrels and hares. Between the 16th and 18th centuries, Russians tamed Siberia, a region rich in many mammal species, such as Arctic fox, lynx, sable, sea otter and stoat (ermine). In the search for the prized sea otter (pelts first used in China), and, later the northern fur seal, the Russian Empire expanded into North America, notably Alaska. Between the 17th and second half of the 19th century, Russia was the largest supplier of fur in the world. The fur trade played a vital role in the development of Siberia, the Russian Far East and the Russian colonization of the Americas. To this day sable is a regional symbol of Ural Sverdlovsk oblast and Siberian Novosibirsk, Tyumen and Irkutsk oblasts of Russia.
The European discovery of North America, with its vast forests and wildlife, particularly the beaver, led to the continent becoming a major supplier in the 17th century of fur pelts for the fur-felt hat and fur trimming and garment trades of Europe. Fur was a major source of warmth in clothing, critical prior to the organization of coal distribution. Portugal and Spain played major roles in fur trading after 1400s with their business in fur hats.
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... Merchants and boyars of Novgorod had exploited the fur resources “beyond the portage”, a watershed at the White Lake that represents the door to the entire northwestern part of Eurasia, from ... and requiring the Komi people they encountered to give them furs as tribute ... more power in the fifteenth century and proceeded in the “gathering of the Russian lands”, the Muscovite state began to rival the Novgorodians in the Far East ...
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