Friday 2nd June. 9 AM – The Lady Chapel, Ely Cathedral. The last part of the banquet for the Archduke today.
As I’m sure will be pointed out many times when Golden Age is released, Elizabeth’s last major royal suitor was not Charles II of Austria, as we have it, but the Francois, Duke of Alençon. Indeed by the time our movie is set Charles was already married (to Maria Anna of Bavaria) and had several children. So why the change? Partly it’s simply because we had a French wooing in ‘Elizabeth’ and didn’t want to repeat ourselves whilst still needing to show the Queen continuing to play the marriage game. It’s also an attempt to simplify the international power politics of the day using a character who was related to Philip of Spain (they were cousins) and who did hold extended marriage negotiations with Elizabeth. So we have taken elements from Alençon’s, in terms of our character’s age and the fact that he visited the Queen and transposed them onto the historical Charles.
Charles II was Archduke of Austria, Regent of Inner Austria and the brother of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximillian. He was a great patron of the arts and sciences and founding the University of Graz, so shared similar interests with Elizabeth. He was also however a Catholic, but having invited the Jesuits into Austria to pursue the Counter Reformation, he eventually relented and granted toleration to protestants. This too is just the sort of practical approach to government and religion that would have appealed to the Queen.
However the marriage of Charles and Elizabeth was not to be and after some ten years of prevarication and stalling, the Archduke eventually gave up. The parting comment of the Bishop de Quadra, who conducted the negotiations, was that Elizabeth “must have a hundred thousands devils in her body”.