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

RUDN Journal of Russian History. 2019;18(4):938-961 DOI 10.22363/2312-8674-2019-18-4-938-961


Journal Homepage

Journal Title: RUDN Journal of Russian History

ISSN: 2312-8674 (Print); 2312-8690 (Online)

Publisher: Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University)

Society/Institution: Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University)

LCC Subject Category: History (General) and history of Europe: History of Russia. Soviet Union. Former Soviet Republics

Country of publisher: Russian Federation

Language of fulltext: Russian

Full-text formats available: PDF



George W.C. Gross (King’s College London)


Double blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 12 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

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.