The Japanese and Spanish did business in the Philippines from the 12th and 16th centuries respectively.

In Russia, Vasili III became aware that the Spanish had reached America after his envoys returned from Madrid in 1525. A few decades later Spain began the Manila galleon trade. Russian awareness of Japan itself began in the 17th century (George Lensen: The Russian Push Towards Japan, p. 22).

When did the Philippine archipelago and the Japanese and Spanish trade routes there become known in Russia?

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    I'm puzzled as to why someone downvoted this question. Perhaps he/she would care to explain. I'm no expert in this area, but it seems the author has done some initial research and the question itself seems clear enough. Nov 1, 2017 at 13:44

1 Answer 1


It appears to be the early 18th century. Peter the Great was the first Russian monarch to have a strong interest in naval affairs. According to Wikipedia,

"A strategy to 'explore the Far East via India and the Philippines to establish trade links.' was suggested to Peter the Great by the Siberia Governor Fydor I. Semyonov in 1722."

The Russians first reached Okhotsk in 1647 by land, and built a base there. But it was in 1714 that Peter the Great sent shipbuilders to the Pacific to build ships and explore the Pacific Ocean in order to support the fur trade from Kamchatka. This effort resulted in, or perhaps was inspired by, growing Russian knowledge of the Pacific.

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    I think this is more an answer to "When did the Pacific become important to the leadership in Russia?", but I also think that's a better form for this question, so upvote from me.
    – T.E.D.
    Nov 1, 2017 at 15:40
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    It would be interesting to know what Semyonov expected to find there. The galleon route had been operating for a century and a half by then. As you said, the expeditions eastward from Okhotsk had not yet begun, so news of the Philippines seem unlikely to have arrived in Siberia from the east. Nov 1, 2017 at 16:42

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