A cannon from the Mary Rose

A bigger picture

England was the minor player in the politics of Europe in the mid-1500s AD. The two major powers were the Holy Roman Empire under its Hapsburg ruler Charles V and France under Francis I. However, the struggles for power in Europe were not confined to its western regions. Hapsburg territories in eastern Europe were under constant pressure from the might of the Turkish Ottoman Empire which Charles tried to counter by negotiating an alliance with the Safavid shah of Persia, Tahmasp I. In 1536, Francis forged an alliance with the Ottoman emperor Suleiman the Magnificent against their common enemy.

Henry VIII of England


Gold medal of Henry VIII as head of the Church of England; AD 1545.

See more See more: https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/asset/gold-medal-of-henry-viii-as-head-of-the-church-of-england/NAEm1T00XuEO5g

Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor


Print showing the titles of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain; AD 1530 – 1550.

See more See more: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1503202&partId=1&searchText=charles+v&images=true&place=41618&from=ad&fromDate=1500&to=ad&toDate=1550&page=1

Francis I of France


Cameo medallion of Francis I; AD 1500s

See more See more: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=42213&partId=1&images=true&people=87252&page=1

Tahmasp I of Persia


Gold coin of Shah Tahmasp I (ruled AD 1524 – 1576). Tahmasp I was the longest ruling member of the Safavid dynasty.

See more See more: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=3151759&partId=1&searchText=tahmasp&images=true&page=1

Suleiman the Magnificent, Ottoman Emperor


The tughra or monogram of Suleiman the Magnificent; AD 1520 – 1566; includes link to radio programme and transcript.

See more See more: https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/asset/tughra-of-suleiman-the-magnificent/jAGuZjp7J7Yqsw
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A cannon from the Mary Rose