“V.N. Lesin school”
My view on the role of Tudor dynasty in Great Britain
What is monarchy? Does it bring benefit, prosperity and advantages or disadvantages?
There are many opinions on this matter. Some consider that Monarchy is inalienable part of life. Of course, Monarchy has advantages. Every monarch makes a considerable contribution in the building of his or her nation. There is no civilization living today which did not originate in the work and effort of Monarchy. Thus, Monarchy is a force for civilization. Another point about the Monarchy in my view is that monarchs, by their very nature, are more patriotic than either Prime Ministers or Presidents. They hold great affection for their respective countries.
Others think that the monarchy is undemocratic. Expenditures on monarchs are enormous & even unfounded. It seems to me that surely, there are some weak points of Monarchy. Firstly, a single person rules in a state for a long time or even for life time, so peoples have no chance to remove him if he or she is not functioning properly or according to the will of people.
Then, when a person knows that is an authority for life time, he/she does not take any tension to work for the betterment of peoples as he/she knows that they are not answerable to anyone. At last, a huge amount of money is spent on king/queen and their family for nothing.
However, nowadays there are a lot of countries with monarchs at the head. For example, Great Britain, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Japan, etc.
As for me, I learn English as a foreign language at school, so I’m interested in the history of English-speaking countries, & especially, Great Britain. It is amazing & fantastic country. One of its peculiarities is political system which is presented by constitutional monarchy. So, the monarch is the official head of state & an integral part of Parliament in her constitutional role. I think the benefits of monarchy in Great Britain are truly very high.
I believe that the most interesting & prosperous time of ruling was Tudor period in British history.
As I learned, it occupies the period from 1485 till 1603 in England and Wales. The Tudor age was characterized by rapid inflation, Reformation and religious disagreements between Catholics and Protestants (fig. 1)
Fig.1. Steps of Reformation
It is known that England under the Tudors was economically healthier, more expansive and more optimistic than at any time in thousand years. What was the progress? First of all, population growth began to increase.
Secondly, Thomas Cromwell, who was Henry chief minister from 1532 to 1540, was the author of modern, bureaucratic government which replaced medieval, government-as-household-management.
Thirdly, the Tudor Government raised a huge amount of revenue from the dissolution of the monasteries. The clerical income from First and Tenths, which previously went to the Pope, now went to the King.
Precisely at that period there was improved financial system which worked with admirable precision.
The Reformation transformed English religion during the Tudor period. The Church of England broke away from Rome and came under royal control.
The five sovereigns of the Tudor dynasty are among the most well-known figures in Royal history (fig. 2). Of Welsh origin, Henry VII succeeded in ending the Wars of the Roses between the houses of Lancaster and York to found the highly successful Tudor house. Henry VII, his son Henry VIII and his three children Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I ruled for 118 eventful years.
Fig. 2 The House of Tudor
During this period, England developed into one of the leading European colonial powers, with great wish to take part in the conquest of the New World.
The brightest monarch of that epoch was, in my opinion, is Queen Elizabeth I (fig.3). She was the last ruler of Tudor. The period of her ruling was called the Elizabethan era & nowadays the historians have come to agreement that it was the Golden Age in English history.
Fig. 3 The last of the Tudor dynasty – Queen Elizabeth I
Elizabeth I was wise and a just Queen, she could choose the right advisors but never allowed them to dominate on her. She ruled for 45 years and during this time were the height of the English Renaissance and the time of the development of English poetry and literature. She had received an excellent humanistic education and gathered about her a circle of courtiers who became patrons of the new culture, especially in the fields of poetry and drama. Thus, the English Renaissance reached its peak during the reign of Elizabeth.
Many great men wrote poetry, drama was also famous. William Shakespeare's plays were written in the years of her reign. Elizabeth herself was a good musician. English music was then among the best in Europe.
Moreover, England succeeded in the Anglo-Spanish War. In 1588 an immense armada of Spanish warships was sent by the king of Spain, scattered by storms in the English Channel, marking the rise of English power on the continent and the beginning of a steady decline in the power of Spain (fig.4). The English defeated the naval expedition, the Armada, sent by Philip II of Spain to conquer England. As a result, England became powerful naval country.
Fig. 4 Battle of Gravelines Part of the Anglo-Spanish War
I decided to compare ruling of Elizabeth with Russian one coinciding in time.
Approximately at the same time we can see at the Russian throne Ivan IV (better known as Ivan the Terrible), who was the earliest ruler to call himself a tsar (fig. 5). He was rather controversial figure in the Russian history. Even Ivan’s nickname has left a controversial legacy. The English word “terrible” is usually used to translate the Russian word Grozny. Yet, Grozny’s meaning is closer to inspiring fear or terror, threatening or awesome rather than sinister or cruel. Some believe the original intended sense could have been Ivan the Fearsome or Ivan the Formidable.
The role of the man who spent 37 years on the Russian throne is still disputed. A ruthless monarch and skilled manipulator, he was also a prominent theologian, an accomplished public speaker and one of the most well-educated people of his time.
Being a child, Ivan started dreaming of unlimited power. In 1547, aged 16, he was finally crowned Tsar of all Russia, the first ruler to officially assume the title. The young ruler started out as a reformer, modernizing and centralizing the country. He revised the law code, created an elite standing army and introduced local self-management in rural regions. The first printing press was introduced in Russia and new trade routes opened up.
Fig. 5 Russian tsar, Ivan IV
In Russia it was the period of political crisis provoked by the rule of struggling boyar clans. Ivan’s IV reign is remarkable for the conquest of Kazan and Astrakhan (fig. 6), colonization of Siberia and unsuccessful Livonian war. He also convened the Land Assembly (Zemsky sobor), which included representatives of all classes. The tsar sought to centralize the government and to limit the power of the duma of boyars. In the early 1560s, Ivan dissolved the select assembly and persecuted the former members. In 1565, he introduced a form of dictatorship known as the oprichnina – a state within a state under his own personal control. This personal fiefdom was ruled by the oprichniki – an elite corps of lifeguards who wore black robes similar to monks’ habits. They tied dogs’ heads and brooms to their saddles, symbolizing their intention of brushing or tearing away their enemies.
Ivan’s reign of terror was a period of executions, plots and open gangsterism. In 1570, the oprichniki murdered almost the entire population of Novgorod, including all the infants. The total number of victims was more than fifteen thousand people.
Fig. 6 Kazan’s invansion
Ivan the Terrible was intelligent but prone to violent mood swings. He expanded his empire and opened trade routes with Europe. He was the first to establish diplomatic and trading links with Britain in 1553.
By doing so, he increased his wealth, centralized his government, and increased availability to natural resources. He was not popular among his people due to his ruthless nature. Although he was successful at his military campaigns, he spent much of his later life working to destroy boyar families (fig. 7).
Fig. 7 The boyars
I think that British Queen Elizabeth I & Russian Tsar Ivan IV the Terrible are two grandiose figures. I’ve got interested, what unites them? I learned that the history of the Russia-Britain relations goes back to the middle of the 16th century, when Britain & Russia were ruled by these brilliant personalities. Queen Elizabeth I ruled in 1558 – 1603 & Russian Tsar Ivan IV the Terrible ruled in 1533 – 1584.
So imperial relations between Britain and Russia started in the days of Queen Elizabeth I.
During Elizabeth's reign England sent its explorers to different lands. Elizabeth I considered trade to be the most important foreign policy matter. She encouraged English traders to settle abroad and to create colonies.
Moreover the English tried to find a quick way to India round the north of Russia. In 1553 Sir Hugh Willoughby took three ships to find the Northeast Passage. Two ships were lost, but the third captained by Richard Chancellor reached Archangel.
Chancellor went to Moscow, met Ivan the Terrible, and opened a new trade with Russia (fig. 8). As a result they found the Muscovy Company. No other country in Europe had a trading company with Russia that could compare with the Muscovy Company of London. “The poor is very innumerable, and live most miserably: for I have seen them eat the pickle of herring and other stinking fish: nor the fish cannot be so stinking or rotten, but they will eat it and praise it to be more wholesome than other fish or fresh meat. In mine opinion there be no such people under the sun for their hardness of living.”1
Fig. 8 Richard Chancellor & Ivan the Terrible
It seems to me, Elizabeth I and Ivan IV are similar in some ways, yet different in others. I read that it was much common in their characters. Thus, the execution of Elizabeth’s mother and two stepmothers had a negative impact on her psychology. These tragic events became the reason for her negative attitude towards marriage.
What about Ivan the Terrible? Sensitive and intelligent, Ivan became cruel, secretive, suspicious, shy, mistrustful and irritable. He always thought that he was surrounded by enemies and betrayers.
Besides, Elizabeth I and Ivan the Terrible were the best educated persons of their time. Elizabeth I was good at Latin, Greek, Spanish, French, History, Philosophy, Mathematics, Art. Ivan IV considered Reading, Writing, and the Bible to be the preferable affairs.
With the use of English merchants, Ivan engaged in a long correspondence with Queen Elizabeth. Each of their letters took about 5 weeks to be delivered and this was regarded as a miracle of communication at the time. While the queen focused on commerce, Ivan was more interested in a military alliance. During his troubled relations with the boyars, the tsar even asked her for a guarantee to be granted asylum in England should his rule is jeopardized.
A letter written by the tsar to Elizabeth I in 1570 suggests relations were not all plain sailing. He called the queen’s advisers “boors” who sought only “their own profit” and compared the Queen to an old maid. This letter has been discovered at the National Archives at Kew in London. Historians believe that the Tsar was miffed by Elizabeth's failure to take his marriage proposals seriously and railed against her "boorish" advisors in the letter. Dated Oct 28, 1570, the letter was doubly untimely since the ruler felt he might need to seek asylum in England if his subjects turned against him.
"We had thought that you had been ruler over your land, and had sought honor to your self and proffitt to your Countrie, and therefore we did pretend those weightie affairs between you and us," wrote the Tsar. "But now we perceive that there be other men that doe rule, and not men but bowers [boors] and marchaunts [merchants], the wich seeke not the wealth and honnor of our majesties, but they seeke there owne proffitt of marchandize. And you flowe [flourish] in your maydenlike estate like a maide"2. The letter backs claims that Elizabeth I rejected a secret marriage proposal from Ivan the Terrible. The historian Felix Pryor, author of “Elizabeth I – Her Life in Letters”, has called it “quite simply the rudest letter Elizabeth ever received”.
So, I can make a conclusion what were the results of the reigns of Elizabeth I and Ivan IV.
The Virgin Queen, Gloriana
The Terrible, tyrant and despot
England – a powerful trading empire
Russia – a multiethnic and multiconfessional state
The Tudors were important for their actions. They ruled England during the era when Western Europe moved from the medieval to the early modern, and they instituted changes in government administration, the relationship between crown and people, the image of the monarchy and the way people worshipped. They also oversaw a golden age for English writing and exploration. None of Henry VIII’s children had any offspring of their own, and when Elizabeth I died she was the last of the Tudor monarchs. She was followed by James Stuart from Scotland. Culturally and socially, the Tudor period saw many changes. The Tudor court played a prominent part in the cultural Renaissance taking place in Europe, nurturing all-round individuals such as William Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser and Cardinal Wolsey. The Tudor period also saw the turbulence of two changes of official religion, resulting in the martyrdom of many innocent believers of both Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. The fear of Roman Catholicism induced by the Reformation was to last for several centuries and to play an influential role in the history of the Succession. So, Elizabeth restored the Church of England and encouraged playwrights, musicians, and poets at her court. Talented men such as William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, and Ben Jonson flourished during the Elizabethan Age, when England was also home to a leading scientific philosopher, Sir Francis Bacon. During her reign England began to colonize North America, and the English captain Sir France Drake led the first voyage of English ships around the world.
Griffiths R. A. The making of the Tudor dynasty. Gloucester, 1985
Guy, John. The Tudors: A Very Short Introduction (2010)
Фрэнсис Бэкон. История правления короля Генриха VII. М., 1990
Mackie J. D. The earlier Tudors, 1485-1558. Oxford; New York, 1994
Лоудз Д. Генрих VIII и его королевы. Ростов-на-Дону, 1997
Хейг К. Елизавета I Английская. Ростов-на-Дону, 1997
The Tudor monarchy. London; New York, 1997
Дмитриева О. В. Елизавета I. М., 1998
Plowden A. The House of Tudor. Stroud, 1998
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Useful English dictionary
1 Richard Chancellor on the Muscovites (1553)
2 Orthography of the author is preserved
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