Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

MERCHANT ADVENTURERS: The Voyage of Discovery that Transformed Tudor England by James Evans

  • Written by  Jonathan Wright
  • Published in Books
MERCHANT ADVENTURERS: The Voyage of Discovery that Transformed Tudor England by James Evans
01 Feb
2014
In 1553, Hugh Willoughby and Richard Chancellor led an expedition in search of a northeastern passage to Asia. They never achieved their goal, of course, but their voyage still counts as ‘one of the boldest in English history’

At least according to James Evans. He’s not wrong. The ships were separated during a storm. Willoughby and his men became hopelessly lost, endured a harsh Arctic winter and perished. Chancellor fared rather better, making it to the imperial court of Ivan the Terrible. This resulted in one of the most fascinating cultural encounters that 16th-century Europe had to offer.

By far the most rewarding sections of Evans’s book trace how these two realms, which knew very little about one another, struck up an acquaintance. It’s great fun to watch Chancellor and his colleagues observing life in Russia with a mixture of puzzlement, admiration and revulsion.

This was a major economic and diplomatic turning point, too, so Evans is right when he states that the story should be better known. He also does a fine job of analysing the expedition’s context – this was a time when England was desperate to catch up with its Iberian rivals in the exploratory stakes.

Far too many popular history books about Tudor England rehash familiar tales. It’s therefore very pleasing to find one that reminds us of a neglected and profoundly significant episode.

MERCHANT ADVENTURERS: The Voyage of Discovery that Transformed Tudor England by James Evans, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, £25

Subscribe and Save!

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

Sign up for our weekly newsletter today and get a FREE eBook collection!

geo line break v3

University of Winchester

geo line break v3

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Derby

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...

Films

A brutal, hard-hitting coming-of-age tale that doesn’t hold its punches

Books

by Dan Richards • Canongate • £19.99 (paperback)

Books

by Jeremy Purseglove • Profile Books • £14.99 (hardback/eBook)

Books

by Peter Hessler • Profile Books • £25 (hardback/eBook)

Books

by Thomas Lockley and Geoffrey Girard • Little, Brown • £20 (hardback/eBook)

Books

by Robert Macfarlane • Hamish Hamilton • £20 (hardback/eBook)

Exhibitions

An exhibition at the V&A brings together innovations from across…

Books

Dead in the Water edited by Bruce Shoemakers and William…

Films

A brutally realistic film about a cruel and pointless confrontation

Books

by Mike Berners-Lee • Cambridge University Press • £9.99 (paperback)

Films

In our attempt to control the natural world, humans have…

Books

by Sudipta Sen • Yale University Press • £20 (hardback)

Books

by Jerry Brotton • Reaktion Books • £9.99 (paperback)

Books

by Colin Everard • IB Tauris • £30 (hardback)

Books

by Pete Brown • Particular Books • £16.99 (hardback)

Books

by Paul Dobraszczyk • Reaktion Books • £18 (hardback)

Books

by Parag Khanna • Weidenfeld & Nicolson • £20 (hardback)

Films

It makes you angry - extremely. It makes you sad…

Books

by Rory O’Grady • The Conrad Press • £18.99 (hardback)