Royal Flirt or Femme Fatale?: Elizabeth I
Only the second crowned regnant Queen of England, Elizabeth I’s love life was no private matter. From the day she was born, Elizabeth was a pawn in the royal marriage game. Surprisingly, she managed to get through her father’s, her half-brother’s, and her halfsister’s reigns without being married to form an advantageous foreign alliance. That meant that the topic of her marriage was a prime consideration when she came to the throne. Elizabeth I’s marital status was serious business. According to Count de Feria, the
Spanish Ambassador, “Everything depends upon the husband this woman may take.” Most people thought a leading candidate was Elizabeth’s long-time friend and suitor Robert Dudley. Their relationship was the cause of international speculation and gossip that likely dulled the interest of some foreign prospects. But Dudley wasn’t the only man trying to win the Queen’s heart and hand. With suitors from all over Europe, and plenty of willing candidates right at home, Elizabeth conducted domestic and international business by considering and gently declining marriage proposals.
Did she ever plan to marry? Or did she spend her reign winning the game of courtly love, deliberately playing the men against each other, and remaining the ever-unattainable object of desire? Scholar Carol Ann Lloyd looks at the men who tried to marry the Queen and explores Elizabeth’s possible motives for claiming and keeping her title of Virgin Queen.