A marriage of state is a diplomatic marriage or union between two members of different nation-states or internally, between two power blocs, usually in authoritarian societies and is a practice which dates back into ancient times, as far back as early Grecian cultures in western society, and of similar antiquity in other civilizations. The fable of Helen of Troy may be the best known classical tale reporting an incidence of surrendering a female member of a ruling line to gain peace or shore up alliances of state between nation-states headed by small oligarchies or acknowledged royalty.[ citation needed ]
Ancient Greece was a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Roughly three centuries after the Late Bronze Age collapse of Mycenaean Greece, Greek urban poleis began to form in the 8th century BC, ushering in the Archaic period and colonization of the Mediterranean Basin. This was followed by the period of Classical Greece, an era that began with the Greco-Persian Wars, lasting from the 5th to 4th centuries BC. Due to the conquests by Alexander the Great of Macedon, Hellenistic civilization flourished from Central Asia to the western end of the Mediterranean Sea. The Hellenistic period came to an end with the conquests and annexations of the eastern Mediterranean world by the Roman Republic, which established the Roman province of Macedonia in Roman Greece, and later the province of Achaea during the Roman Empire.
The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various regions, nations and states, depending on the context, most often including at least parts of Europe, Australasia, and the Americas. There are many accepted definitions, all closely interrelated. The Western world is also known as the Occident, in contrast to the Orient, or Eastern world. It is often correlated with the Northern half of the North-south divide.
In Greek mythology, Helen of Troy, also known as Helen of Sparta, was said to have been the most beautiful woman in the world. She was married to King Menelaus of Sparta but was abducted by Prince Paris of Troy after the goddess Aphrodite promised her to him in the Judgement of Paris. This resulted in the Trojan War when the Achaeans set out to reclaim her. She was believed to have been the daughter of Zeus and Leda, and was the sister of Clytemnestra, Castor and Polydeuces, Philonoe, Phoebe and Timandra.
While the contemporary Western ideal sees marriage as a unique bond between two people who are in love, families in which heredity is central to power or inheritance (such as royal families) often see marriage in a different light. There are often political or other non-romantic functions that must be served, and the relative wealth and power of the potential spouses are considered. Marriage for political, economic, or diplomatic reasons was the pattern for centuries among European rulers.
Careful selection of a spouse was important to maintain the royal status of a family: depending on the law of the land in question, if a prince or king was to marry a commoner who had no royal blood, even if the first-born was acknowledged as a son of a sovereign, he might not be able to claim any of the royal status of his father.
Traditionally, many factors were important in the arranging of royal marriages. One such factor was the size of the tracts of land that the other royal family governed or controlled.Another, related factor was the stability of the control exerted over that territory: when there is territorial instability in a royal family, other royals will be less inclined to marry into that family. Another factor was political alliance: marriage was an important way to bind together royal families and "their countries during peace and war" and could justify many important political decisions.
A political alliance, also known as a coalition or bloc, is cooperation by members of different political parties, in countries with a parliamentary system, on a common agenda of some kind. This usually involves formal agreements between two or more entire parties, and often takes place mainly for the purpose of contesting an election. An alliance is usually especially beneficial to the parties concerned during and immediately after elections – due to characteristics of the electoral systems concerned and/or allowing parties to participate in formation of a government after elections. These may break up quickly, or hold together for decades becoming the de facto norm, operating almost as a single unit.
Religion has always been closely tied to political affairs and continues to be today in many countries. Religious considerations were often important in marriages among royal families, particularly in lands where there was an established or official religion. When a royal family was prepared to negotiate or arrange the marriage of one of its children, it was extremely important to have a prospective spouse who followed the same religion or, at the very least, that the spouse be willing to convert before the wedding. In non-Catholic royal families, there were few things worse than marrying a person who was a Catholic.Some countries barred from accession to the throne any person who married a Catholic, as in the British Act of Settlement 1701. When a Protestant prince converted to Catholicism, he risked being disowned by his family, and often being barred from the throne himself. Some of these laws are still in force, centuries after the conclusion of Europe's Wars of Religion.
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.
The Act of Settlement is an Act of the Parliament of England that was passed in 1701 to settle the succession to the English and Irish crowns on Protestants only. The next Protestant in line to the throne was the Electress Sophia of Hanover, a granddaughter of James VI of Scotland, I of England and Ireland. After her the crowns would descend only to her non-Roman Catholic heirs.
Protestantism is the second largest form of Christianity with collectively between 800 million and more than 900 million adherents worldwide or nearly 40% of all Christians. It originated with the 16th century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be errors in the Roman Catholic Church. Protestants reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal supremacy and sacraments, but disagree among themselves regarding the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. They emphasize the priesthood of all believers, justification by faith alone rather than also by good works, and the highest authority of the Bible alone in faith and morals. The "five solae" summarise basic theological differences in opposition to the Roman Catholic Church.
Roman Catholic countries had similar laws and strictures. France, for example, effectively barred non-Catholics from the throne. Even if the law did not strictly prohibit marrying non-Catholic royalty, political situations and popular sentiment were frequently sufficient to dissuade princes from so doing.
The French Wars of Religion were a prolonged period of war and popular unrest between Catholics and Huguenots in the Kingdom of France between 1562 and 1598. It is estimated that three million people perished in this period from violence, famine, or disease in what is considered the second deadliest religious war in European history.
Contrary to what some historians have said about her elusiveness when in marriage negotiations with suitors or their representatives, Queen Elizabeth I was known to be straightforward in her various courtships.In 1565, when in the midst of the Habsburg matrimonial project, Elizabeth promptly dismissed the rival French suit of their fourteen-year-old king, stating she would have to be ten years younger to consider it. Furthermore, in addition to concerns about religion, financial arrangements, and security, Elizabeth also maintained that she could not marry anyone whom she had not seen in person, perhaps as a result of her father's own displeasure and divorce of Anne of Cleves. The emphasis on religion, national security, and securing the line of succession in all of Elizabeth's marriage negotiations demonstrate the emphasis placed on the political importance of marriages of state during this period. Although some of her contemporaries hoped she would find solace in marriage, procreation was still considered the primary purpose of royal marriage.
In March 1565, Elizabeth told her Spanish ambassador, Diego Guzmán de Silva:
Thus, Elizabeth appeared to personally believe that a woman should reasonably be able to remain single. However, she continued to engage in marriage negotiations for decades because of the expectations of her role as monarch. Although she herself had little inclination to marry, she understood the limitations of her power and therefore seriously considered marriage on numerous occasion at the behest of councillors.
The Habsburg marriage negotiations revolving around the marriage of Queen Elizabeth I to Archduke Charles show the way marriage was often negotiated in royal families. The first phase began in 1559, with the initiative for a matrimonial alliance between England and Austria.However, the first phase was a failure and, the people of England were relieved to the extent that they feared a foreign ruler coming into their country. Negotiations were re-opened with some difficulty in 1563 by the English. This was in part due to Charles' search for a wife elsewhere, the lack of permanent diplomatic links between Austria and England, and because of Emperor Ferdinand's distrust of Elizabeth for her refusal of his son's suit in 1559. However, Sir William Cecil was interested in the match and began work on a marriage negotiation. While the first set of negotiations were uncertain, the second round of negotiations gathered stronger support in England for the suit and went on for several years.
Both sides hoped to gain from a marital alliance. In England, the negotiations were a key element to Elizabeth's foreign policy and intended to protect the country's commercial interests and political security against the French-Scottish alliance.Austria also hoped to gain in similar ways from a political alliance and possibly bring Catholicism back to England. However, English support was partly due to the fact that the English had been deliberately misled to believe that Charles would be willing to convert to Protestantism and in the end, the archduke's Catholicism and refusal to come to England before finalizing a betrothal proved too difficult to overcome and the suit dissolved. These negotiations, nevertheless, illustrate how support and opposition ebbed and flowed over the course of time, and how issues like religion, which seemed to be resolvable at the outset, could ultimately doom an otherwise promising proposal.
Napoleon, as emperor, gave out kingdoms and female relatives with equal largesse to favored Marshals and general officers.
Through most of recorded history state marriages were also common at lesser levels of nobility, and many a lesser marriage of state was consummated and bargained over during all of the Middle Ages and through the middle of the twentieth-century in western society, and the old forms still hold sway in many other cultural contexts today. One famous example of a marriage of state for lesser reasons was that of George II of Great Britain's parents. The Princess Sophia's dowry included properties assuring an income of 100,000 thalers annually, which led to George Louis, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (the future George I of Great Britain), marrying his first cousin Sophia Dorothea of Celle —when both were pressed into the arrangement by his mother— and that German ducal dynastic move accidentally gave the couple the inside track on the Protestant thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland (and later, those of the United Kingdom and Ireland).
Elizabeth I was Queen of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death on 24 March 1603. Sometimes called the Virgin Queen, Gloriana or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the last of the five monarchs of the House of Tudor.
Mary I, also known as Mary Tudor, was the Queen of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death. She is best known for her aggressive attempt to reverse the English Reformation, which had begun during the reign of her father, Henry VIII. The executions that marked her pursuit of the restoration of Roman Catholicism in England and Ireland led to her denunciation as "Bloody Mary" by her Protestant opponents.
The House of Tudor was an English royal house of Welsh origin, descended in the female line from the Tudors of Penmynydd. Tudor monarchs ruled the Kingdom of England and its realms, including their ancestral Wales and the Lordship of Ireland from 1485 until 1603, with five monarchs in that period: Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I. The Tudors succeeded the House of Plantagenet as rulers of the Kingdom of England, and were succeeded by the House of Stuart. The first Tudor monarch, Henry VII of England, descended through his mother from a legitimised branch of the English royal House of Lancaster. The Tudor family rose to power in the wake of the Wars of the Roses (1455-1487), which left the House of Lancaster, to which the Tudors were aligned, extinct in the male line.
Elizabeth of York was the first queen consort of England of the Tudor dynasty from 18 January 1486 until her death, as the wife of Henry VII. She married Henry after being detained by him in 1485 following the latter's victory at the Battle of Bosworth Field, which started the last phase of the Wars of the Roses. Together, Elizabeth and Henry had eight children.
Henry II was King of France from 31 March 1547 until his death in 1559. The second son of Francis I, he became Dauphin of France upon the death of his elder brother Francis III, Duke of Brittany, in 1536.
Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk, was an English nobleman and politician. Although hailing from a family with strong Catholic leanings, he was raised a Protestant. He was a second cousin of Queen Elizabeth I through her maternal grandmother, and held many high offices during her reign.
The Catholic Monarchs is the joint title used in history for Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon. They were both from the House of Trastámara and were second cousins, being both descended from John I of Castile; on marriage they were given a papal dispensation to deal with consanguinity by Sixtus IV. They married on October 19, 1469, in the city of Valladolid; Isabella was eighteen years old and Ferdinand a year younger. It is generally accepted by most scholars that the unification of Spain can essentially be traced back to the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella. Some newer historical opinions propose that under their rule, what later became Spain was still a union of two crowns rather than a unitary state, as to a large degree Castile and Aragon remained separate kingdoms, with most of their own separate institutions, for decades to come. The court of Ferdinand and Isabella was constantly on the move, in order to bolster local support for the crown from local feudal lords.
Isabella of Austria, also known as Elizabeth, Archduchess of Austria and Infanta of Castile and Aragon, was Queen of Denmark, Sweden and Norway as the wife of King Christian II. She was the daughter of King Philip I and Queen Joanna of Castile and the sister of Emperor Charles V. She was born at Brussels. She served as regent of Denmark in 1520.
The Elizabethan Religious Settlement is the name given to the religious and political arrangements made for England during the reign of Elizabeth I (1558–1603) as part of the English Reformation. The Settlement shaped the theology and liturgy of the Church of England and was important to the development of Anglicanism as a distinct Christian tradition.
Isabella Clara Eugenia was sovereign of the Spanish Netherlands in the Low Countries and the north of modern France, together with her husband Albert VII, Archduke of Austria. In some sources, she is referred to as Clara Isabella Eugenia. By birth, she was an infanta of Spain and Portugal.
Succession to the British throne is determined by descent, sex, legitimacy, and religion. Under common law, the Crown is inherited by a sovereign's children or by a childless sovereign's nearest collateral line. The Bill of Rights 1689 and the Act of Settlement 1701 restrict succession to the throne to the legitimate Protestant descendants of Sophia of Hanover who are in "communion with the Church of England". Spouses of Roman Catholics were disqualified from 1689 until the law was amended in 2015. Protestant descendants of those excluded for being Roman Catholics are eligible.
Joséphine of Leuchtenberg or Joséphine de Beauharnais was Queen of Sweden and Norway as the wife of King Oscar I, as well as Princess of Bologna from birth and Duchess of Galliera from 1813. She was known as Queen Josefina, and was regarded to be politically active during the reign of her spouse. She acted as his political adviser and actively participated in state affairs. She was particularly active within the laws of religion in Sweden and Norway, and is attributed to have introduced more liberal laws regarding religion.
Elisabeth of France was Queen consort of Spain and Portugal as the first spouse of King Philip IV of Spain. She served as regent of Spain during the Catalan Revolt in 1640-42 and 1643-44. She was the eldest daughter of King Henry IV of France and his second spouse Marie de' Medici.
Isabella Jagiellon was the oldest child of Polish King Sigismund I the Old, the Grand Duke of Lithuania and his Italian wife Bona Sforza. In 1539, she married John Zápolya, Voivode of Transylvania and King of Hungary, becoming Queen consort of Hungary. At the time Hungary was contested between Archduke Ferdinand of Austria who wanted to add it to the Habsburg domains, local nobles who wanted to keep Hungary independent, and Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent who saw it as a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire. While Isabella's marriage lasted only a year and a half, it did produce a male heir – John Sigismund Zápolya born just two weeks before his father's death in July 1540. She spent the rest of her life embroiled in succession disputes on behalf of her son. Her husband's death sparked renewed hostilities but Sultan Suleiman established her as a regent of the eastern regions of the medieval Kingdom of Hungary on behalf of her infant son. The region developed as a semi-independent buffer state noted for its freedom of religion. Ferdinand, however, never renounced his claims to reunite Hungary and conspired with Bishop George Martinuzzi who forced Isabella to abdicate in 1551. She returned to her native Poland to live with her family. Sultan Suleiman retaliated and threatened to invade Hungary in 1555–56 forcing nobles to invite Isabella back to Transylvania. She returned in October 1556 and ruled as her son's regent until her death in September 1559.
Maria Josepha of Austria was the last Queen of Poland by marriage to Augustus III. From 1711 to 1717, she was heir presumptive to the Habsburg Empire. Her sister Maria Amalia became Electress of Bavaria.
Royal intermarriage is the practice of members of ruling dynasties marrying into other reigning families. It was more commonly done in the past as part of strategic diplomacy for national interest. Although sometimes enforced by legal requirement on persons of royal birth, more often it has been a matter of political policy or tradition in monarchies.
The term France–Habsburg rivalry describes the rivalry between the House of Habsburg and the Kingdom of France. The Habsburgs were the largest and most powerful royal house of the Holy Roman Empire from the Early Modern Period until the Napoleonic Wars, and survived with large possessions in the Austro-Hungarian region until the First World War. In addition to holding the Austrian hereditary lands, the Habsburg dynasty controlled the Habsburg Netherlands (1482-1794), Habsburg Spain (1504–1700) and the Holy Roman Empire (1438–1806). All these lands were notably in personal union under Charles V and formed the Habsburg ring around France. As the House of Habsburg expanded into western Europe, border friction began with the Kingdom of France, the lands of which extended to the west bank of the Rhine. The subsequent rivalry became a cause for several major wars, including the Italian Wars 1494–1559; the Thirty Years' War 1618–1648; the Nine Years' War 1688–1697; the War of Spanish Succession, the War of Austrian Succession, and the Napoleonic Wars.
The Treaty of Joinville was signed in secret on 31 December 1584 by the Catholic League, led by France's first family of Catholic nobles, the House of Guise, and Habsburg Spain.