A History of Great Britain by Robert Balmain Mowat - CHAPTER XVI - The Expansion of England

September 6 2018

CHAPTER XVI - The Expansion of England

The introduction of the Greek language to academia, has brought with it a new outlook of the world.

The first English chartered joint stock ‘Muscovy’ company has started trading with Russia and in 1585, the English finally decided to start settling the New World.

Their attempt is through the Roanoke Colony, today North Carolina, and is a spectacular failure - however, it does result in the introduction of the tobacco plant and the potato to the kingdom.

Instead of trying to colonise again. England starts engaging in the unfortunate slave trade. ‘Negros’ are being traded to Hispaniola from West Africa.

In 1576, England also commences the first English polar expedition with explorer Martin Frobisher. He tries to find the north-west passage. He won’t.

Francis Drake , another English explorer, manages to open the Pacific ocean to England in 1585.

Previously, only the Spanish knew how to traverse this part of the world and are taken by surprise when Drake attacks them.

War breaks out. Besides the Pacific attack, the Spanish are also greatly upset about Elizabeth helping the Dutch revolt - they are under Spanish rule.

Phillip of Spain sets out to attack England with his Great Armada. While equal in number, the English ships are much faster and evidently, better captained, for by July 1588, the Spanish are outsmarted.

The English command has set eight of its small ships alight at the port in which the Spanish had anchored to refit their fleet. Panicked, the Armada retreats to open water unfitted; the remaining English ships attack.

In the end, the Spanish flee and a storm seals their fate. The result is the knighting of Drake, the command of the English over the channel and the eventual freedom of the Dutch.

The reality looks different for the Irish. Their are rather removed from the going-on’s in England and Elizabeth is staring to fear an Irish rebellion. He will be right and the Irish cause will be supported by the Spanish.

Ireland only prospers again once Elizabeth is dead.

The English for all their adventures, are not content either. For them, it is religion. Some don’t like being governed by bishops and some want independent congregations. Elizabeth has no interest in such complaints, her new system shall prevail.

Parliament has problems as well. Elizabeth I. has given monopolies on such valuable commodities as salt, leather and gold wire to her courtiers, and parliament tries to remove those patents.

On their second attempt, they succeed and Elizabeth abolishes all monopolies to keep the peace.

The same parliament also grants Poor Relief to maimed soldiers and those too old or too sick to work.

Queen Elizabeth I. dies in March 1603, childless and with her the Tudor dynasty. She is succeeded by James VI. of Scotland and James I. of Ireland and England (the same man, two successions), who will start the Stuart reign.

This concludes Robert Mowat’s A History of Great Britain, if I ever track down Part II, (1603-1918), I’ll update!