Blanche of Castile

Blanche of Castile

Eleanor, named after her mother, was the sixth child of King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. She was born in about 1161 but in 1170 she was married to Alfonso VIII of Castile. The aim was to secure the border with Aquitaine. One of Eleanor’s daughters born in 1188 was named Blanche. Initially a sister of Blanche’s was betrothed to Philip II of France’s heir but the girls’ grandmother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, decided that it was Blanche who would make a better queen of France.

In 1200, Blanche was escorted across the Pyrenees by her indomitable grandmother, the marriage being made to the benefit of King John of England and involving the dower of lordships held by the English Crown. There was only a year between the bride and groom.

In 1215, King John’s revolting barons offered the English throne to Louis because he was married to Henry II’s granddaughter – and who was going to turn down an entire realm? At one point two thirds of England’s barons recognised Louis as their king, he held London and one third of the country. In 1217 the tide turned in the aftermath of the Battle of Lincoln but Louis tried to regain the military imperative. It was Blanche who put the fleet together that would resupply her husband when Philip II of France refused to help. She gained cash from her father-in-law by threatening to offer her children as hostages. It was all to no avail. Following the Battle of Sandwich in the summer of 1217 Louis was forced to come to terms with King Henry III’s supporters and take himself home.

Philip died in 1223 but was followed three years later by Blanche’s husband. Louis IX was only 12 years old but unlike Henry III’s mother, Blanche had no intention of deserting her son and besides which Louis VIII left the regency in Blanche’s hands on his deathbed. She forced the French magnates to accept the young king and in the capacity of regent played both the military and diplomatic cards in a way that her grandmother would have applauded. In 1229 she forged the Treaty of Paris. She remained an influential political player throughout her life and in 1248 became regent of France for a second time when Louis went on the Seventh Crusade.

She died in 1252, perhaps to the relief of her daughter-in-law, Margaret of Province, who had a difficult relationship with Blanche who was jealous of any time that Louis spent with Margaret.

One thought on “Blanche of Castile

  1. Yes it all came unstuck and French King lost his grip of Englands mighty throne.Sadly I have stopped blogging as few supporters instead of many made my mind up I can spend my time more profitably with my guest room in 5 acres of garden business . Summers here will make it profitable as rural estate leading down track one mile to Europe larges longest beach at 73 miles of Riga bay blue sea .White sand and large sky .In week only me on it .At weekends Germany Latvia and Sweden occupy all available space. We do not wish for country to turn into tourist place but for my guests I can offer a real package of joy .
    Edwardian English gardens of tall hedged walls and garden rooms water falls statues long walk borders and a folly to rest in out of sun. Vine roof over dinning area with brick oven to cook for all friends and guests in summer garden party time .
    Taken me alone 6 years to craft a real English garden of 1860-1900 art and craft style in a far off corner of the world just 1200 miles from England .and 35 from Sweden. Flat vast lands of forest old and new .Lakes from pond to vast lakes all over this land. Ends at sea im just a mile and a bit from beach and in rural place of greenery just out of village with shop and manor house hotel 5 star Egon Ronay . Spring is not that far off and so start of season is May

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