Was Elizabeth I a virgin?

This is such a tough question and there are many different schools of thought on it. Some historians point out that there was no evidence that Elizabeth slept with Robert Dudley or any of her favourites and that when spies (from ambassadors) questioned her ladies and investigated the rumours about Elizabeth's behaviour all they found was rumour and scandal, no proof of any sexual misconduct.

Some people also point out that Elizabeth would surely have become pregnant if she had slept with Dudley, but then there was basic contraception around or Elizabeth could have been barren, but would she really have taken this risk? Plus she was never really alone, she was constantly supervised by advisers and her ladies - how could she have got away with it.

Other people believe that there was just too much rumour for nothing to have gone on!

But I for one believe that Elizabeth died a virgin. I believe that she was a passionate woman and that she fell in love a few times but that she always put her country first and saw herself as married to England, she could not risk her country for a man.

Weir points out that Elizabeth "may have made the equation that sexual involvement was inextricably linked with death" - after all, her mother had been executed for adultery, her stepmother Catherine Howard had been executed for adultery, her stepmother Catherine Parr died after giving birth, and her first love Thomas Seymour (or abuser!) was executed. That might put your off sex! The idea of childbirth may also have scared her and put her off the idea of sexual involvement - Her grandmother Elizabeth of York had died of puerperal fever, as had Jane Seymour and Catherine Parr. Sex inevitably could lead to childbirth and, in those days, childbirth was a risky business.

Elizabeth may also have had physical problems that could have stopped her having sex. Weir, in her book "Elizabeth the Queen", writes of how the playwright Ben Jonson had talked of Elizabeth having "a membrane on her which made her incapable of man", meaning either an abnormally thick hymen or perhaps Elizabeth may have suffered from Vaginismus, a condition which affects a woman's ability to have sex because of a tightness of the vaginal muscles. Weir also makes the point that although there were scandals and rumours because of Elizabeth's fondness of men and flirting, "Elizabeth was too much mistress of herself and too great a stateswoman to succumb to the temptations of illicit sex". She just would not have risked her status, reputation or throne in that way.

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39 thoughts on “Was Elizabeth I a virgin?

  1. The more I peruse and observe comments, films and books about her the more I am convinced that “she” was a “he” ! Start with the Bisley Boy by John Dillon if you will but so much that I have witnessed lead me to believe that “she” was a raging gay. The truth will ultimately come out only when “her” bones are examined and the sex/gender established. Sorry to have upset so many people but this is my firm belief.Thank yo. J.C.

  2. I think she died a virgin (unless of course she was raped. Just because you have a healthy libido doesn’t always mean you will “act” on it. She may have done other things to pleasure herself without having any intercourse. I’ve talked to people who stayed as virgins throughout their life. Some people find it hard to believe but those kind of people really do exist. Usually they find it scary and their mind and heart doesn’t really agree with doing it.

  3. She almost certainly was abused by her father, and most probably sexually–at least from the many accounts of he and sometimes he and his partner/wife including Elizabeth in their times of ‘relaxation’. She seems to exhibit some of the classic signs of abuse as far as some of the records go.

  4. There is a big possibility that Queen Elizabeth had a condition called guevedoces. Wherein girls who reach puberty will grow penis, but born with a vagina. I know this is wierd but there are real stories about girls having this conditions which Elizabeth might had and ordered the people to never examine her body. Also, caused her to not marry, though she is a girl and having an emotions of a girl. (although this is only my wild guess) We are not % sure why she is unmarried.

  5. i don’t know about the abuse but giving into the sex would have given the “man” the power and that was not Elizabeth 1

  6. I don’t know if Elizabeth I was a virgin or not. She was wise. She lost her Mother before
    she was 3 years old. Her father was a wimp and a womanizer. Jane Seymour died
    after giving birth to a son. Katherine Howard was young and foolish. The wimp Henry
    VIII could have sent her and Anne Boleyn both into exile. Catherine Parr survived, and
    was childless until she married her old love Thomas Seymour. The Dirty old man was
    unfaithful to her. Catherine got pregnant, and he was fool enough to start messing
    around teenage Elizabeth. I don’t know if he raped Elizabeth or not. The Dirty old man
    was no husband. Sadly he left his young daughter Mary after Catherine’s death.

    He was power hungry. He later lost his head.

    I think Elizabeth was wise. Her priority was ruling England. So she left England no heir.
    She had been exposed to death all her life. Her Dad, the old goat, thought of himself.
    Katherine Howard was too young to be a wife and a step – mother, much less a Mother
    to the king’s son or daughter had she had any children.

    Elizabeth had seen what being married and having any children cost. England and the
    people were Elizabeth’s priority.

  7. There are tales of Elizabeth I having illegitimate children or that she was really a man or was gay, also various reasons given for why she never married. We can’t know the answers for sure. However, it’s hard to believe that given her status and all the suitors that entailed that she never once had a sexual relationship, whether as Princess or Queen. Given her status and authority, I’m sure she could have somehow arranged discreet encounters with only her closest and most trusted associates in the know. Also, I know the most common definition of ‘virgin’ is one who has never engaged in sexual intercourse, but a less common definition is simply ‘an unmarried girl or woman.’ Since she never married, this definition of virgin would be applicable to her whether she was actually sexually pure or not. Her reign lasted so long and didn’t produce an heir, so naturally people have a lot of questions about her. Just makes her all the more intriguing.

  8. I think she was abused by thomas seymore and got pregnant at a young age, I think she went on to have other lovers a fall pregnant numerous times, but had to place those children with modest familys ie shakespear, I’ve heard she paid for his education.

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