Elizabeth I

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Problems of not marrying

  • No heir to carry on the line.
  • All royal women were married.
  • Less alliances were created, meaning less money.
  • Made the country look weak.
  • Caused issues of loyalty.
  • Resulted in rivalry and factions.
  • A woman was considered weak without a man
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What did different groups want from the marriage?


The interests of the English people may not have been important for a foreign prince and so wanted Elizabeth to marry an English subject. There had been previous bad experiences of foreign kings e.g. Philip II of Spain.They wanted somebody Protestant.


Marrying would give her a protector. However he wuld look to her with help with his problems.It would make her less vunerable, but would give her more enimies. Didn't want to end up like her father, so wouldn't marry someone without seeing them first. It would demean her if she took a husband who wan't of royal blood. Wanted to appear strong, not in second place - "Your Majesty thinks if you were married, you would be but Queen of England, and now you are both King and Queen."


In 1559, the commons submitted a request for the Queen to marry. They all, apart from Cecil, wanted her to marry and Englishman. Parliament were keen to state that in marriage, the power would stay with Elizabeth. However, factions happened and everyone wanted different things.

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Candidates for marriage

Robert Dudley

Made most of his money through activities of the Elizabethan court. He was Protestant and English. He had known Elizabeth since childhood. Hiswife had died under suspicious circumstances.

Archduke Charles of Austria

He was very wealthy an powerful. However he was Catholic and promoted the counter-reformation. He was also the cousin of King Philip II of Spain and the 3rd son of the Holy Roman Emperor.

Philip II of Spain.

He was very rich, but again was Catholic and the Pope was keen for Spain to fall out with Protestant countries. However he owned a lot of other countries and had a large army, but had previously ruled England and the English didn't like him.

Francis, Duke of Anjou.

He came from a wealthy family and was the brother of the French King. However he was Catholic and the English didn't really like him, but he wasn't against Protestant England and Elizabeth liked him.

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Robert Dudley.

Elizabeth and Dudley wee close since childhood and spent a lot of time together. Many stated that they were in love,but Dudley was already married. 

Immediately after Elizabeth's succesion she made Dudley Master of the Horse and in all ceremonial duties he rode directly behind the Queen. He was given the title of Earl of Leicester and he took on the role of the official protector for the Queen.

Rumours started that Dudley was planning to kill his wife to be with Elizabeth. Then in September 1560, she was found dead at the bottom of some stairs. It was ruled an accident, but many believed it to be murder. This meant that Dudley and Elizabeth could never get married, and it would only back up the thoughts of the people who thought Dudley murdered his wife.

Some people say that Dudley was Elizabeth's one true love and because she couldn't marry him, she never married anyone else. She was distraught when he died, is death was sudden and she didn't have a chance to say goodbye. She kept his final letter to her until she died.

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Francis, Duke of Alencon (Anjou)

After years of correspondance, Elizabeth and Alencon finally met in 1579. They were immediately close friends, and a preliminary marriage contract was signed in November. However most people in England disliked the pairing, and the relationship began to cool in the following months. It dragged on for nearly 2 years, but in 1581 Alencon came secretly to England to ask for assistance, which Elizabeth granted.

The next year, when pressed for an answer by the French ambassador, she agreed to the marriage. However she wanted parliament to agree, but they didn't. She therefore called off the marriage and sent Alencon back to France.

In 1584 Alencon died and Elizabeth wept openly for 3 weeks and mourned his death every year.

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The Essex Rebellion?

Robert Devereux was a young cousin of Elizabeth, who was quite taken with him. He had a large ego, lacked discipline and was jealous. He quickly gained reputation and was in charge of Elizabeth's first campaign to support France.

He wanted to be the Queen's personal advisor, but the Cecil's got in the way and opposed him. Elizabeth wanted to keep the peace and so didn't give the position to anyone. Essex didn't gain any sympathy by being a nuisance and would often try to force his views on Elizabeth. She grew tired of him and sent him to Ireland where he disobeyed orders and secretly retured to England to plan to take over the throne. However the government anticipated this and after Essex failed to gather support, he was arrested and hanged.

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