Saturday, February 9, 2013

Elizabethan Quote of the Day: Elizabeth Speaks on Marriage and Children

"And therefore I say again, I will marry as soon as I can conveniently, if God take not him away with whom I mind to marry, or myself, or else some other great let happen. I can say no more, except the party were present. And I hope to have children, otherwise I would never marry." 

(Quote taken from Elizabeth I and her Parliaments 1559-1581, by J.E. Neale).


A portrait of Queen Elizabeth I from 1570. By Hans Eworth. Picture acquired through Wikimedia Commons. Image public domain.

Queen Elizabeth I said this in a speech delivered in 1566 to a delegation made up of both houses of Parliament. The members of Parliament were pressing the Queen to declare her intentions concerning the proposed marriage between herself and the Archduke Charles of Austria. 

A portrait of Archduke Charles (and his dog!) from 1569. Unknown artist. Picture acquired through Wikimedia Commons. Image public domain.

Of course, Queen Elizabeth I never married Archduke Charles, or anyone else for that matter. Though Elizabeth did not marry for a variety of reasons, evidence from her life suggests that she may have wanted children of her own; she was always kind to the children she would meet while on progress, she helped support her godsons at university and found husbands or court positions for the younger women (some of them god-daughters) charged to her care, and she held genuine affection for the children of her cousins, Katherine Carey-Knollys and Henry Carey, Baron Hunsdon.

A portrait of Eleanor Verney, Mrs. William Palmer circa 1590. Eleanor Verney-Palmer was a god-daughter of Queen Elizabeth I. Attributed to William Segar. Parham Park. Picture acquired through Wikimedia Commons. Image public domain.

Archduke Charles later sought the hand of Elizabeth's cousin and rival, Mary, Queen of Scots, but eventually wed Maria Anna of Bavaria, with whom he had twelve children.

A portrait of Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria from 1577. By Cornelis Vermeyen. Picture acquired through Wikimedia Commons. Image public domain.


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