Thursday, January 22, 2009

Question from Alix - England and Russia in Elizabeth's reign

I remember reading in one of Alison Weir's books that one of Queen Elizabeth's ladies was apparently offered a hand in marriage by the Russian tsar Ivan the Terrible. I haven't read that book about Queen Elizabeth in a while, but I was wondering if anyone here knew if that marriage proposal actually happened.
Also, did England and Russia back then have any communication with each other? Ever since I heard about that marriage proposal, I've been wondering if England and Russia ever really communicated with each other in trade or anything.

[Ed note: The first part of this was addressed in the previous thread below:]


Bearded Lady said...

The older post answers your question about Ivan’s marriage proposal. As far as Russia’s relationship with England a letter from Feodor I (Ivan’s son) to Elizabeth offers a clue.

He says, “In former years there have been embassies between our father Ivan of blessed memory and your brother King Edward and King Philip and Queen Mary, and your merchants have trafficked freely in our dominions. Afterwards our father had embassies with you, loving sister, and of late you sent unto him Sir Jerome [Bowes], one of your chief courtiers, whom our father appointed should be met on his way and highly honoured, above other princes' ambassadors, and that he should have great allowance for his provision, such as had not been given to any heretofore. “

The letters goes on and on kissing up to Elizabeth. You can read it in its entirety at:

You can find this letter under: Miscellaneous 1584', Calendar of State Papers Foreign, Elizabeth, Volume 19: August 1584-August 1585 (1916), pp. 692-693.

Sorry, I can’t figure out how to get a direct link? I did a search under “Feodor” to find it.

Foose said...

To back up Bearded Lady's research, I've come across a note that says the first Russian ambassador was sent to England in 1557, during the reign of Mary Tudor. I can't find any reference to Edward VI's reign, but this might just mean a formal accredited ambassador was not sent, but there were informal contacts.

There are some intriguing references to "Muscovite" in the correspondence of Jane Seymour's brother Hertford in 1545, but it appears to be a reference to an Italian who commanded a mercenary company under Hertford.

kb said...

I'm sorry, but aren't we talking about the Muscovy Company? This band of London investors sent a group of ships to Russia starting in Edward's reign. It was under the leadership of Sir Henry Willoughby? But Willoughby got lost and froze to death. One ship made it back from this trip under the command of Richard Chancellor. (I think I'm remembering this right.)

The second trip under Chancellor's command was launched during Mary's reign. I believe the return of this voyage included an ambassador from the Russian court. I'm pretty sure Chancellor died before reaching England.

kb said...

Might have been Sir Hugh Willoughby...sorry my source are elsewhere for another week.

kb said...

For an adventurous and romantic account of England's early contact with Russia I highly recommend Dorothy Dunnett's "The Ringed Castle". While it is fiction all the historical facts check out, dates, main participants, background politics, everything except the main character and his cohorts. The book covers the second voyage of the Muscovy company to Russia under Richard Chancellor. It's the fifth book of the Lymond series. You can start in the middle of the series without too much angst.

And it's very fun fiction for the Tudor geek.

Anonymous said...

I have also read this in several books including Allison Wiers,but it was a preposal to elizabeth herself instead of one of her ladies. I will try to find some more of my sorces and get back to you.

Anonymous said...

The first Muscovite Ambassador to England was Osep Gregoriwich Napea and he arrived in England during the reign of Mary I and Phillip you can read about his arrival here:

Trade with the Rus seems to have been going on for a bit of time but, really got going under Edward and Mary there is a book on Googlebooks entitled: " England and the Baltic in the Elizabethan Era" pretty darn good read and deals exclusively with the trade and politics the two nations underwent.

P. Smith