15 April 2024

A King for England??

 What to do about a Queen Regnant who lacks a husband?

I am writing, of course about, a woman who in her own right holds the rights to the Crown of (let us say)  England. I am not writing about all those women who, simply by marrying or being married to a male who happened to be a lawful Sovereign, acquired what is is essentially a courtesy title of "Queen". Such women are commonly termed Queens Consort. (There may be intriguing ambiguities here: I think I read somewhere that the besotted Tudor VIII planned to use parliamentary jiggery pokery to confer upon La Bolena the status of Sovereign. And let us not get into Williamnmary.)

But, before the long 'reign' of Bloody Bess had habituated England to thinking of Virgin or Almost Virgin Queens, there was an assumption that if the person upon whom the English Crown lawfully devolved happened to be both female and unmarried ... she needed a husband. Accordingly, the early years (decades?) of the Second Tudoress were overshadowed by the question: whom will the Queen marry? Were the winner of this jackpot to be a foreign prince, there would be implications for international politics, as there had been in the time of Queen Mary I. If Elizabeth condescended to an English Spouse, our internal national politics would be likely to be engaged.

In the 1570s, Mediterranean politics were of interest to the Mediterranean powers. How safe were Cyprus and Malta from Islamic aggression ... Sicily ... elements of Spanish power in North Africa ...?

Further North, how real were the 'marriage negotiations' between Elizabeth and the youngest brother of Charles IX, the Dule of Alencon (the Duke of Anjou having been elected King of Poland in 1573)? In an age when Dukes were rarae aves and came into the international category of 'Princes', and when the English aristocracy had few enough dukedoms, the holder of the Dukedom of Norfolk was naturally a person of interest to some.

But was Boleyn's daughter the only woman whose marriage prospects or intentions engaged thoughtful Englishmen?

To be continued.

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