Sunday, February 10, 2013

Elizabethan Quote of the Day: Elizabeth's Physician Shares Sensitive Information

"If the King marries her, I guarantee ten children; and no one in the world knows her constitution better than I do."

Queen Elizabeth I's physician made this bold claim to the French ambassador in 1566, when the French King Charles IX was considering marrying the Tudor queen. 

A portrait of King Charles IX of France, circa 1572 in the Palace of Versailles. By or after Francois Clouet. Picture acquired through Wikimedia Commons. Image public domain.

The marriage, had it gone through, would have certainly been a disaster; Charles IX, along with his mother Catherine de Medicis, would eventually permit the massacre of the French Protestant's, known as Huguenots, which began with the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre in 1572. When he died without legitimate issue, Charles IX was succeeded by his brother, who became King Henri III.

The St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre by Francois Dubois, circa 1572-84. Picture acquired through Wikimedia Commons. Image public domain.

Queen Elizabeth understood that her body was not her own; it belonged to the state and to her people. In fact, she allowed herself to be routinely examined well into her 40's to prove that she was still able to bear children. Yet imagine what Elizabeth would say if she knew that her physician's words concerning her fertility were being read hundreds of years later!