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Tudor Minute November 10: RIP Richard Chancellor


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

Today in 1556 Richard Chancellor died. He was a navigator and explorer who is remembered for piloting the boats that were sent to find a northeast passage. Yes, northeast, not northwest. The idea was that the Spanish and Portuguese largely had a lock on the trade routes to the west, so it worth it to try heading east, over Russia, and to try to come down from that direction. The first ships set out in 1553, and while they didn’t discover a faster route to Asia, they did discover a trade route to Moscow. 

Trade relations quickly blossomed, with a company - the Muscovy Company - forming to fund exploration and trade. Ivan the Terrible even proposed marriage to Queen Elizabeth. In 1556 an ambassador was coming back to England and the ships hit a storm off the Scottish coast.

 Richard Chancellor, the captain, drowned while saving the life of the ambassador.

That’s your Tudor Minute for today. Remember you can dive deeper into life in 16th century England - I did an episode on the northeast passage - through the Renaissance English History Podcast at englandcast.com.


Richard Chancellor appears in my novel Sideways and Backwards, where a modern woman winds up stuck in 16th century Cambridge!

Episode 22: The Northeast Passage