25 Comments

  1. Helen m

    Even in Roman times there were potions to prevent pregnancy or remove an unwanted pregnancy. Virgin queen I’m doubtful off a good physician I have faith on. I think she loved greatly but did not allow herself to fall into the trap of allowing a man to take control. A woman that was born to early and was so great

  2. MandaLynne

    Yes, I believe she remained a virgin all her life. She would not risk losing her throne.

    As for the relationship between her and Robert – there are ways of satisfying one another that do not include actual intercourse. I am sure they were both quite proficient at pleasing each other without risking pregnancy.

    • Anne Kearney Farrelly

      My 10th great uncle Thomas Butler (Thomas Dubh) the 10th Earl of Ormond who was a cousin of Elizabeth through her mother , and who grew up in the court of Henry the 8th, was a great friend of Elizabeth and there is a story that they had an illegitimate son.

  3. Anne

    Another story is that Elizabeth and my 10th Great Uncle Thomas Butler the 10th Earl of Ormond had a love child. She and Thomas were distant cousins. Through her mother Anne Boleyn. He was brought up at the court of Henry the 8th .

  4. First Child by Thomas Parr = Earle of Oxford
    2nd child byRobert Dudley 1561= Francis Bacon born while on tour at Lady Cook-Bacon’s residence.
    3rd Child by Robert Dudley 1563= Squire Thomas Dudley mercenary of Spain.
    4th child by Robert Dudley 1565 male son given to Sir John Perrot the Queens 1/2 Brother to raise as his own: My 8th ggfather John Peratt II grey’s in 1580 along with William Perrot, Thomas Perrot and Sir James Perrot. Mary Sidney Herbert born 1561 was Sir Robert’s daughter raised by his sister Mary Sidney, by Lettice Knolley’s the queens Lady in Waiting. Robert was determined to breed with all the eligible Tudor females he could find, and Lettice Knoley’s was the daughter/grand daughter of Henry VIII daughter, Catherine Carey. D. Charles Rice 2nd cousin x 12 removed to Elizabeth Tudor I

  5. Jennifer J June

    Apples and oranges. Catherine the Great was an autocrat firmly seated on her throne. Elizabeth the Canny was a woman centuries earlier whose hold on power was almost constantly challenged.

  6. Esther

    IIRC, Russia’s Catherine the Great didn’t have anyone in the position of Mary Queen of Scots, and she didn’t have the religious divide, so a scandal would not necessarily bring Catherine down the way it might hurt Elizabeth.
    Also, Elizabeth lost a grandmother and two stepmothers (one of whom at least she loved) due to childbirth. I think Elizabeth did stay virgin (at least technically). She was frightened to death of dying … and childbirth was a major cause of death. Also, she was frightened of being deposed in favor of a son.

    • Hans van Felius

      furthermore, 16th century England can not be compared with 18th century Russia, where Catharine ruled as an autocrat, something Elizabeth could not do. And there were not that many children as far as I know. A son and a daughter officially from her marriage to Peter. No real scandal there. And a later son and daughter; the daughter she did not officially acknowledge as hers. It was kept quiet officially, but the births were pretty widely known. Her son Paul made his half brother a count. Especially the son was treated as other illegal or morganetic offspring. Every one knew they were there, and how…

  7. Deb Vai

    Great article, the way you presented possible evidence, summed it up and then left it open to the dear reader.
    I think Elizabeth’s primary focus was always the throne. With the childhood she had – and the ever devolving example of Mary of Scots before her – I believe she was too self-disciplined to risk pregnancy. However, was certainly was VERY susceptable to the flattery and charms of men. As she matured and perhaps felt more confident of her position, it may be that she indulged in some risque behavior in her privy chamber. That said, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if she kept herself technically a virgin.

  8. Jennifer J Clark

    I’m a Tudor, too. Via Jasper. I haven’t done the work to figure out the precise relationship.

    There are some people who aren’t interested in sex, and they aren’t psychotic. From all accounts, Elizabeth was very interested in men. And there were women in her bedchamber every night. Lots of way to satisfy desires.

  9. John logan

    Queen Elizabeth is my 15 cousin, 3 times removed. And I dont give a Royal damn if she had sex. Sex is normal. Being celibate for your entire life is psychotic.

  10. Chris Breedt

    For all we know maybe she was a lesbian and is cackling at us from the grave for our foolish fancy. Who knows… It was too darn long ago and we can’t even tell whether our neighbours shag let alone some 16th century queen.

  11. Jennifer J Clark

    There is a another definition of virgin; an unmarried woman who controls her affairs and has no man who she must answer to. I know, I know, everyone knows when Elizabeth is called a virgin, it means she never had sex. But there is a lot of sex that doesn’t not include…well….you know what I mean. Were she and Dudley intimate? There no doubt in my mind. Did they do anything that might get her pregnant? Most probably not.

  12. Ryan Fitzpatrick

    I believe she was a virgin. Just the logistics alone of keeping a pregnancy quiet (let alone five pregnancies) would be near impossible to achieve. Let alone the fact that no one has ever laid claim to being Elizabeth’s child when during her grandfather’s reign you had pretenders like Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck springing up left and right. Plus, I don’t think Elizabeth was too thrilled at the idea of having James VI as her heir and probably would’ve prevented it if she could. Still, a great topic of discussion to have drinks over.

  13. Jennifer

    I don’t think there is much of a chance of Elizabeth having children. There were some serious traditions during this time period when it came to pregnancy & birth including confinement. I would also find it hard to believe that any woman could hide a 3rd trimester baby bump no matter how much clothing she wore. Propaganda and rumors were easily created back in this time period as well…..and just like murder, could have little to no proof before it wss circulated & believed by populations to be true.

  14. Tinkerbell

    Imo the Virgin Queen was her PR persona
    She was chosen and annointed by God to be Queen, as was Mary to carry the son of God
    This raised her above all others and normal human traits..with reglion being the crux of all politics and way of life what better way than this
    It showcased the sacrifices she made for her exalted position and subjects, and her strength in a world dominated by men.
    In the privacy of her own chambers, though this was never in the full context as we know it. I hope Elizabeth did enjoy the love and closeness of an intimate relationship with Dudley at some level.
    As for the rumours surrounding Seymour, we all know he was a charming chancer..but Elizabeth was in a risky situation at this time..all eyes were on her especially Marys, to my mind to succumb to his advances would have definitely been her end
    She also had a great love for Katherine Parr and I can’t imagine she would betray her even after death
    Walls had Ears and Elizabeth knew this more than anyone from a very young age so to presume that Elizabeth could give birth in secret is highly improbable
    Elizabeth had first hand experience when it came to seeing what happens to women when they get caught up in the game of marriage with her mother and 4 stepmothers ..
    All in all Elizabeth was too shrewd to give any reason for her enemies to destroy her…so rumours were invented to discredit a woman who would not conform to religious and political persuasions of those times…

  15. Sara

    I suspect that she was technically a virgin but did have sexual experiences. In other words, she could have done everything apart from ….to avoid pregnancy.

  16. Hans van Felius

    The Virgin Queen seems to have been a propaganda thing. Was she a virgin? We will never really know and I do not think it is that important. We know all the rumours, up to this day, where a certain nobleman claims to be her descendant (and a descendant of the “real” Shakespeare as well. I do not believe she had children, and certainly not five of them. She was one of the most watched persons in England at the time, and I just do not believe it could have been kept a secret.

  17. carrie

    Oh dear…this again. I believe she was a virgin but I also believe that Seymour was a charming ladies man and could eventually have seduced her. Perhaps that time the pregnant queen found them kissing may have led to just that. I don’t believe there was any children. It was in the Catholic best interest to discredit the queen and put Mary of Scots on the throne. Unless I am wrong that “sickness” you speak of was smallpox. Mary Sidney caught it from her and was scarred for life. Good article though, however your editor missed that thrown is spelled “Throne”

    • Tudors Dynasty

      The sickness from Small Pox actually occurred in 1562, I thought of that when I discovered the letter from 1561 as well and then realized it did not line up.

  18. Yes, I can accept that Elizabeth remained virgin.
    I think it highly improbable-maybe impossible-that she ever bore a child without this being known. At all times in her life she was either a candidate for power, or actually in power. She would have been under scrutiny by those who would wish to gain her favor, or extort her favor. There is no way she could have kept a full pregnancy and childbirth a real secret.

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