Ivan IV and Elizabeth I: The influence of the Tsar’s matrimonial endeavours on the development of Russo-English relations

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Abstract


Did Ivan the Terrible1 propose a marriage alliance with Elizabeth I of England? Did he ever seek an alternative English bride? Was the Tsar truly serious about an English match? Historians have long been divided on whether Ivan the Terrible ever formally sought out to marry the Queen of England - this article reveals that a marriage proposal may indeed have been proffered to Elizabeth I, but was not formally written down. The evidence for this is found by focussing on the contextual background of their relations, the long-term realpolitik of the Tsar with England, including his marriage attempts to a relation of the English Queen in the 1580s, and the work of the ambassador Anthony Jenkinson, as an intermediary between Ivan and Elizabeth. In investigating these points, the close diplomatic relations of the two countries in the late sixteenth century and the extraordinarily favourable trading terms offered by Ivan IV to English merchants in the form of the Muscovy Company will also be examined. In addition, the differences and similarities of the perceptions of the two monarchies will be touched upon2. Perhaps most intriguingly for the present, research in this period reveals a time in which the two countries experienced a ‘friendliness’ in diplomatic and trading relations that has never been repeated since and would seem unthinkable today.


About the authors

George W.C. Gross

King’s College London

Author for correspondence.
Email: george.gross@kcl.ac.uk
Virginia Woolf Building, 22 Kingsway, London WC2B 6LE, United Kingdom

PhD in Theology, Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College London University. He is a co-convener at ‘The Religious History of Britain, 1500-1800’ seminar held at the Institute of Historical Research in London.

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