She was only two years old when her mother was taken from her and beheaded. Is that the real reason why the virgin queen, Elizabeth I, refused to marry?
- Elizabeth I was still two years old when her mother Anne Boleyn was executed
- But Anne seems to have had a huge influence on Elizabeth as Queen
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Although Elizabeth I was still a toddler when her mother was put to death by Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn seems to have had a major influence on her daughter’s reign – and may even have been responsible for her remaining bachelor.
Speaking at Hay’s literary festival, historian Tracey Borman suggested that the trauma of her mother’s execution likely had a profound effect.
Borman said:[Elizabeth] had nervous attacks, as they were described, and often upset stomach.
“She had migraines. It was abundantly clear that she was literally traumatized by her early history and if pressured on the issue of marriage, she would almost become hysterical.’
Although Queen Elizabeth I (pictured) was not yet three years old when her mother was executed, the impact of the event would remain with her for the rest of her life
Anne Boleyn (pictured), Henry VIII’s second wife, was executed on 19 May 1536 by order of her husband
Elizabeth witnessed her father, Henry VIII (pictured), undergo four more wives – each discarded wife served as a reminder of her mother’s tragic fate
According to a Guardian account of the event, Borman said the “popular myth” that Elizabeth I didn’t have much of her mother couldn’t be further from the truth.
Borman describes how Elizabeth secretly wore Anne’s iconic “A” pendant while sitting in front of a painting with her father and siblings, saying, “Elizabeth’s actions speak louder than words.”
Her refusal to marry “went beyond her politics,” Borman believes.
She added: “Anne had left an indelible impression on Elizabeth, both physically and emotionally.”
Both Elizabeth and Anne were strongly influenced by Marguerite of Navarre, the Princess of France, who introduced Boleyn to the feminist ideas of Christine de Pizan.
Christine de Pizan was a medieval writer who advocated for women’s equality. Her works include poetry and novels, as well as literary, political and religious commentary.
In her later years, Elizabeth was also introduced to the work of Marguerite of Navarre through her stepmother Catherine Parr.
Pictured: Anne Boleyn’s execution after she was found guilty of adultery and was to be beheaded at the Tower of London
The trauma of losing her mother at a young age is said to have affected Elizabeth psychologically
Through her translation of one of Marguerite’s most famous works, the poem Miroir de l’âme pécheresse, Borman sees this as ‘a real tribute to her deceased mother’.
She believes the so-called virgin queen was actually a virgin: “She had come to equate sex with death from an early age.”
Both women broke with the female pattern in Britain at the time, as Anne’s work in reforming the country’s religious traditions provided the perfect starting point for Elizabeth’s 45-year reign without a husband.