Date of Award

January 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Hans Broedel


This thesis will explore how Queen Elizabeth I of England's use of interdynastic marriage negotiations as an essential component to the successful implementation of her foreign policy objectives. Many historians continue to debate whether a distinct foreign policy actually existed from the onset of Elizabeth's reign. While some contend that the queen had no policy in place, I suggest, that while it was not an active, aggressive policy, it did, in fact, exist. So the question becomes not whether she had a policy but how it was implemented. Using her unique role as an unwed female monarch, Elizabeth understood the importance of prospective marriage as a means through which she could accomplish her diplomatic goals. Thus, Elizabeth used the prospect of marriage to the Queen of England as an important aspect of international diplomacy for the first half of her reign.

Elizabeth skillfully maneuvered through courtships modifying both her words and actions to achieve the desired result. She personified herself as was necessary to appeal to a specific audience, altering her tone to suit the situation and the intended recipient. Essential to Elizabeth's approach was her understanding and use of gender. As both a female king and unwed queen, Elizabeth deftly varied the outward expression of each of her genders as a means to manipulate others and thus achieve favorable results. Elizabeth was not alone in either her use of marriage as a political tool or in the methodology employed. As the comparative analysis in the second chapter will show, Catherine de Medici, Queen Mother of France, was also a master manipulator of her words and personifications. Both she and Elizabeth carefully nuanced their words and actions to present themselves in the most favorable light.

This thesis will focus primarily on the extended negations between Elizabeth and Francis d'Alencon, later Anjou. Study of this important courtship provides the lens through which to examine Elizabeth's approach towards marriage negotiations leading us to an understanding of her both her methods and motives. The nature of these on again off again talks clearly exemplifies Elizabeth's prudent entwining of interdynastic marriage with international diplomacy.

This study utilizes a combination of primary and secondary sources. The primary sources consist of Elizabeth's correspondences and speeches, while secondary sources are essential to the historiographic discussion of Elizabethan foreign policy. Using secondary sources, this work begins with a historiography of scholarships on Elizabeth and her foreign policy, setting up the debate of weather a policy existed or not and developing my works place within the ongoing scholarship and debate. Primary sources are used to supplement the historiographic study of Elizabethan foreign policy and are essential to the comparative analysis of Elizabeth and Catherine de Medici and the study of Elizabeth's use of gender in her diplomacy.