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Tudor Minute May 10, 1553: The first expedition of the Company of Merchant Adventurers

Hey, this is Heather from the Renaissance English History Podcast, and this is your Tudor Minute for May 10:

Today in 1553 the first expedition of the Company of Merchant Adventurers set sail looking for a NorthEast passage to Asia. Yes, they wanted to sale north and, instead of heading west, which was the most popular route, they wanted to sail above Russia, and then head down. Partially this was because there would be no competition from the Portuguese and Spanish, who had pretty much locked down the routes to the west.

The company ran into issues right away, getting stuck in storms in Norway, and then getting separated. One ship was found a year later with the men completely frozen. But one ship, captained by Richard Chancellor, did make it to Russia, where they negotiated a trading relationship with Tsar Ivan – also known as Ivan the Terrible, who would, incidentally, become one of Elizabeth’s suitors a few years later.  

The Muscovy Company grew trade and relationships between England and Russia for centuries. In 1994 the current Queen Elizabeth visited the original company headquarters, not far from the Kremlin.

That’s your Tudor Minute for today. Remember you can dive deeper into life in 16th century England through the Renaissance English History Podcast at englandcast.com where there is an episode on the Northeast passage expedition.


Episode 022 on the Northeast Passage