The years leading up to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I were marked by contrasts. England was powerful and strong, yet also aggressive and in constant threat of war.
These were uncertain times, with Catholics and Protestants fighting and distrusting each other, and kings and queens coming and going.
Was the period with Queen Elizabeth I going to change any of this, or would she lead the country into yet another unstable period?
Elizabeth I’s early life was filled with uncertainties. Her father, Henry VIII, desired to become the father of a strong and healthy son, to whom he could pass the throne.
Only a couple of months after Elizabeth turned four years of age, one of Henry VIII’s wives succeeded to fulfil his dreams, as she gave birth to a baby boy. Having a half-brother (Edward), as well as a half-sister (Princess Mary), Elizabeth I was third in line.
Therefore, Elizabeth’s chances of succeeding to the throne were rather small, despite the fact she was very well educated and extremely intelligent.
However, both Edward and Mary passed away at a rather young age, causing Queen Elizabeth I to succeed to the throne.
Today however, due to her many romances during her period of reign, many doubt that she actually did stay a virgin her entire life.
Different sources give different reasons as to why Elizabeth chose not to marry.
Some argue that childhood memories of her dad’s cruelty to his in total six wives played a major part in her decision to remain unmarried, whereas others claim she was in love with Robert Dudley, a married man.
Elizabeth herself however, clearly stated that she could not marry a man, because she considered herself married to the Kingdom of England.
“Elizabeth chose never to marry. If she had chosen a foreign prince, he would have drawn England into foreign policies for his own advantages (as in her sister Mary's marriage to Philip of Spain); marrying a fellow countryman could have drawn the Queen into factional infighting. “
Regardless of what her actual reason not to marry was, her decision played an important role in preserving the peace in England.
Queen Elizabeth’s 45 years long reign is often referred to as “The Golden Age”, due to its peace, harmony and prosperity.