Arguably the most powerful monarch in history, Queen Elizabeth I tops this list of Top 10 Real-Life Spinsters.

Why She Makes the List

Though not the first female ruler of England, Queen Elizabeth I was certainly the most famous. During a time when women were very commonly believed to be inherently feeble, lesser beings than men, Elizabeth’s ascension and successful reign set a precedent that was seen throughout the entire world. The impact that that visibility had is incalculable.

Her Life as a Single Woman

Elizabeth’s decision to remain a virgin (that is, an unmarried woman of good virtue without children) was controversial within her own court. But the young queen knew what she was doing. She had seen the difficulties and divided power that plagued her older sister’s marriage as well as her cousin Mary Queen of Scots. Elizabeth must have realized that the only way to remain both free and sovereign was to remain unmarried. And so she announced, shortly after her coronation, that she saw herself as already married – to the country of England.

Her Choice to Remain Childfree

It may be inaccurate to say that a maiden in Tudor times chose to be childfree, as no unmarried woman could have a child and claim to be virtuous. Elizabeth certainly could never have had a child out of wedlock (despite the fact that male rulers did it regularly). However, we can safely say that Elizabeth did not wish to have a child.

Her refusal to marry upset her advisers primarily because it meant that she would have no heir. The danger, chaos, and blood that surrounded the transfer of power through Henry VIII’s children left a deep mark on the country. No one wanted to risk creating such a situation again. So when Elizabeth insisted upon remaining a virgin, her advisers encouraged her to at least name an heir. She also refused this.

While her father had been desperate for an heir to his throne, Elizabeth saw this as a threat to her power. Even on her deathbed, she refused to name an heir for fear of them trying to kill or usurp her before her life had ended. Thus, Elizabeth I was truly a spinster.

Her Legacy

Queen Elizabeth I’s reign, much more than her older sister Mary’s, paved the way for future female monarchs of England. On a more individual note, Elizabeth’s bold decision to remain the sole ruler of her kingdom should be inspiration to us all.


What did you think of this Top 10 list? Leave a comment and let me know!

Top 10 Real-Life Spinsters: Queen Elizabeth I


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