Philip II was born six years before Elizabeth I in 1527 and died five years before her in 1598. Between them 'el rey prudente' (the prudent king) and the virgin queen dominated the second half of the sixteenth century. Quite unusually for reigning monarchs of that period, they actually met. This occurred in May 1555 while Philip was king consort of England and when Elizabeth was brought to Hampton Court after her imprisonment at Woodstock. Neither has left any personal recollections of the meeting, but from the wariness with which they treated each other thereafter no great rapport seems to have been established.
The welfare of her people was of paramount importance to Elizabeth and she once remarked, 'I am already bound unto a husband which is the Kingdom of England.' But her reluctance to marry was to become one of her biggest headaches and would cause her ministers, particularly the anxious Lord Burghley, sleepless nights. Marriage was a political necessity and a way of forming a useful alliance with a European power. Children would secure the line of succession. This was Elizabeth's duty and she should get on with it.
The Elizabeth Files - Primary Sources
During the past twenty-five years Elizabethan history has been transformed by the work of Simon Adams. Famous for the unique depth and breadth of his research in libraries and archives throughout Britain, Western Europe and the USA, he has brought to life the most enigmatic of the greater Elizabethans: Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Together with his edition of Leicester's accounts and his reconstruction of Leicester's papers, Adams has published numerous essays and articles on Leicester's influence and activities. They have reshaped our knowledge of Elizabeth and her Court, Parliament, the localities from Wales to Warwickshire and such subjects of recent debate as the power of the nobility and the noble affinity, the politics of faction and the role of patronage.