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Knowledge of our past is our inheritance. What we do with that knowledge will shape our destinies...

Monday, June 17, 2013

Historical Tidbit: Ivan the Terrible and Elisabeth I

Did you know...

That Ivan the Terrible of Russia proposed marriage to Elizabeth I of England? This may not mean much to most Americans today, but it should. 

Ivan was one of the most violent and notorious rulers in Eastern Europe, and most especially in Russia. Like Vlad the Impaler, he liked to find new and more interesting (read: disgusting) ways to kill his own people and delighted in bloodshed. He ran his relationships, his  household, and ultimately his country into the ground, dragging everything and everyone around him into his own pit of madness. 

Now just imagine Elizabeth I had taken him up on that offer. What might an alliance with Russia have done to England. Elisabeth was on the throne for forty-five years and was the most progressive thinker of her era. She instituted the first law of freedom of religion in Europe and was a feminist before the word existed. Her reign brought a golden age for her country and her people, which came to (somewhat) of an end upon her death.

What does this have to do with America? 

Elizabeth, indirectly if not directly, affected the colonization of America. Many who'd been born during her reign were used to having religious freedom. When she died, James VI of Scotland became James I of England and reverted to the us-vs.-them, Catholic-vs.-Protestant mentality that existed before Elizabeth took the throne. Once you've known freedom, it's almost impossible to give it up. That was true of many English subjects and they came to America seeking the religious freedom they'd known under Elizabeth.

So, if she'd married Ivan, how would history have been different? Chances were he would have found a way to taint both England and its queen. What if he had killed Elizabeth or refused to respect her policies of religious freedom? It would have changed the way in which America was colonized and who knows where we would be today?

Luckily, anyone who knows anything about Elizabeth Tudor knows that would never have happened. She was far too independent to let any man rule over her and she probably knew exactly who and what Ivan was, which means she was entirely too smart to entangle herself with him. 

Under Elizabeth, England flourished and became one of the top powers in the world. Under Ivan, Russia slid into darkness, chaos, and brutality, falling even farther behind the rest of the world than it already was.

So, how do YOU think the world would have been different if Elizabeth had married Ivan?

Citadels of Fire, Book 1 of Kremlins will be available in September 2013, courtesy of Jolly Fish Press.

1 comment:

  1. We'd probably all be speaking Spanish or French.