Sigismund Herberstein

Sigismund Herberstein (1486-1566) - "Herberstein was an Austrian diplomat who was twice sent to Russia as Austrian ambassador, in 1517 and 1526. Born in Vipava (German Wippach), Slovenia, he was familiar with Slovene, a Slavic language, which became important later on his mission in Russia, when he was able to communicate with ordinary Russians in Russian, another Slavic language. These visits occurred at a time when very little was known about Russia outside the region. The few published descriptions of Russia were in some cases wildly inaccurate." (Wikipedia).