Foreign Affairs

Marriage: Impact on Foreign Relations

Elizabeth's Suitors:

1534 Duke of Angoulme (third son of Francis I)
c1542 A Prince of Portugal
1543  Son of the Earl of Arran
1544  Prince Philip (Philip II)
1547  Sir Thomas Seymour
1552  Prince of Denmark
1553  Courtenay, Earl of Devonshire
1554  Philibert Emanuel, Duke of Savoy
1554  Prince of Denmark
1556  Prince Eric of Sweden
1556  Don Carlos (son of Philip II)
1559  Philip II
1559  Prince Eric of Sweden
1559  Son of John Frederic, Duke of Saxony
1559  Sir William Pickering
1559  Earl of Arran
1559  Henry Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel
1559  Robert Dudley
1560  King Eric of Sweden
1560  Adolphus, Duke of Holstein
1560  King Charles IX
1560  Henry, Duke of Anjou
1566  Robert Dudley
1568  Archduke Charles
1570  Henry Duke of Anjou
1572- 1584 Francis, Duke of Alencon, later Anjou. 


At the beginning of her reign, an obvious candidate for Elizabeth to marry was her half sister's widow, Phillip of Spain. Their union had brought peace between Spain and England, and Elizabeth's Privy Council hoped to maintain this. They were also fearful that France would rekindle their loyalty to Scotland and threaten England from the north and south together. If this union between Scotland and France became something, Spain could help England by attacking France from below. However this union was appalling because he was Catholic was married to the previous queen, and a foreigner. Many people did not want a foreigner influencing England policy. 


Another serious contender was Francis, Duke of Alencon, later Duke of Anjou. He was younger than Elizabeth but their union was based on a mutual need for France and England to form an alliance. The traditional bonds between England and Spain were deteriorating and England needed the support of France for protection from Spain. The French were Catholic but did not have the same hostility to English Protestantism as Spain was. This was one of the more serious courtships of Elizabeth's reign. He even came to England to meet Elizabeth and she even announced before some of her courtiers that she would marry him. This pleased those eager for her to marry, but made many unhappy because they did not want her to marry a French Catholic. 


Another suitor for Elizabeth was Prince Eric of Sweden, later King Eric of Sweden. He was a protestant and head of his country; however England viewed Sweden as a mediocre power and not a nation to be linked with in marriage. 

Holy Roman Empire

In 1565 the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire proposed that Elizabeth marry Archduke Charles of Austria. The negotiations dragged on for four years with Elizabeth never giving a firm answer and Charles refusing to give up his Catholic faith. 

Spanish Armada

Many reasons led to discontent between Spain and England. The first being Elizabeth's refusal of marriage to Phillip if Spain. Another being the English sympathy to the protestant rebels on the Netherlands. Also, the activities of English ‘pirates', who looted Spanish ships, caused problems between Spain and England. In 1568, a final blow came when some Spanish ships were blown off course into English waters, and the English seized them. The Spanish responded by doing the same to the English.

Seeing Spain as a threat, Elizabeth tried to form an alliance with France. France however, thought her intention was to create war between France and Spain while England looked on.

The Spanish Armada sailed in 1588 and was completely defeated by the English. Phillip was warned against this mission but believed he was on a mission from God. Their complete failure effectively ended any threat Spain posed to the English. 

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