Queen Elizabeth I: Why She Never Married

Essay by katzman36High School, 10th gradeA+, March 2009

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"God's death! My lord I will not have but one mistress and no master." This quote displays what Elizabeth thought about the issue of marriage. Elizabeth never married during her 44-year reign (1558-1603). Elizabeth showed no enthusiasm for marriage and declared on a number of occasions she preferred the single life. Elizabeth would have been afraid of marriage from a young age, since her father had killed many of his wives, including Elizabeth's mother, Anne Boleyn, who was beheaded when Elizabeth was only three. The death of Catherine Howard, Elizabeth's stepmother, when the princess was eight, scarred Elizabeth greatly. Elizabeth enjoyed direct political governance, and did not want to share her power with a husband. The marriage of a Queen was a complicated affair, and could be disastrous for the country, as the case of Queen Mary had illustrated. Elizabeth did not want to repeat her sister's mistake by marrying a man that would not be popular with her people.

Any man Elizabeth married would expect a say in the governing of the country (as Philip had expected under Mary) and neither Elizabeth nor her ministers wanted to relinquish any power over English affairs. For this reason, it was in the best interests of the country for Elizabeth to marry a man who, although of suitable rank and status, was not a major European power. This effectively ruled out reigning monarchs, although the protestant Eric of Sweden was given serious consideration by Elizabeth's ministers. But Eric was far from a wealthy monarch, and marriage to him would have brought England little financial benefit, or provided her with a strong European ally. The Archduke Charles was also given serious consideration, and his suit remained a possibility for several years. But as well as the need to consider the demands for...