The Tudor Society
  • Richard Chancellor (d.1556)

    Richard Chancellor is a Tudor explorer famous for his interactions with Russia. His origins and childhood are mostly unknown, and as such, there is a lot of speculation. We believe he was born in 1521 and lived near Bristol. It is claimed that he was raised by Sir Henry Sidney, Lord Deputy of Ireland.

    In the 1550s, Chancellor sailed with Roger Bodenham as an apprentice pilot in the voyage of the Bark Aucher to the Levant. This trip was intended to provide English mariners with the experience of longer voyages, something that they were less experienced in than their French and Spanish counterparts. By 1553, English markets were becoming more diverse, and there was increased demand for cloth from the Far East. As such, merchants, courtiers, and noblemen funded an expedition to the East, which consisted of three ships – the Bona Esperanza, Edward Bonaventure, and the Bona Confidentia. Richard Chancellor was appointed as the pilot general of the voyage and as captain of the Edward Bonaventure, the largest ship in the expedition. The voyage departed on 22nd May 1553 but was delayed for several weeks in Harwich due to faulty casking. Eventually, they set sail on 23rd June, and the ships progressed towards the Norwegian coast. The leaders of the expedition agreed to meet at Vardö should they become separated; however, they were all scattered by a vicious storm. Chancellor arrived at the town and waited seven days for the others to come, but no one did. Richard set sail from Vardö and arrived at the Russian port town of St Nicholas towards the end of August 1553.

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  • Tudor Explorers Quiz

    How much do you know about Tudor explorers? Grab your favourite beverage and get those little grey cells working with this fun quiz.

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  • 27 January 1596 – The death of Sir Francis Drake

    A miniature of Francis Drake by Nicholas Hilliard

    On the 27th January 1596, Sir Francis Drake, explorer, sea captain and pirate, died of dysentery in Portobelo harbour, Panama. When he realised that death was near, he asked to be dressed in his armour. Although he requested burial on land, Drake was buried at sea in a lead coffin, along with his second cousin, Admiral Sir John Hawkins.

    Drake made his first voyage to the New World at the age of around twenty-three, with Hawkins, whose family owned a fleet of ships based in Plymouth. Another voyage saw the fleet trapped by Spaniards in the Mexican port of San Juan de Ulua in 1568. Fortunately, the two men managed to escape, but they lost all but two of their fleet. In 1570 and 1571, Drake undertook two trading voyages to the West Indies, and in 1572 took two ships on a marauding campaign against the Caribbean’s Spanish ports. Drake was able to capture the port of Nombre de Dios and return to England, his ships laden with Spanish booty. In 1573 Drake attacked a mule train with the help of Guillaume Le Testu, the French buccaneer, capturing around 20 tons of gold and silver.

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