Muscovy Company (mŭs´kəvē) or Russia Company, first major English joint-stock trading company. It began in 1553 as a group supporting exploration of a possible northeast passage to Asia. An expedition under Richard Chancellor reached the White Sea, and Chancellor himself continued overland to Moscow. The company was chartered in 1555, with a monopoly on the newly opened Russian trade, and between 1562 and 1579 it financed expeditions to establish overland trade routes to Persia. In 1646, English merchants were excluded from Russia, but trade reopened on the restoration (1660) of Charles II, and the company was reorganized as a regulated company. It lost its monopoly, long a subject of political opposition, in 1698 but continued in existence until 1917.
See T. S. Willan, The Early History of the Russia Company (1956, repr. 1968).