Eleonor Provence

Eleanor of Provence
C.1223 - 24.06.1272

Born in the city of Aix-en-Provence in southern France, she was the second daughter of Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Provence (1198–1245) and Beatrice of Savoy (1198–1267), the daughter of Thomas I of Savoy and his wife Margaret of Geneva.

Eleanor was married to King Henry III of England on 14 January 1236. She had never seen him prior to the wedding at Canterbury Cathedral and had never set foot in his kingdom. Edmund Rich, Archbishop of Canterbury, officiated. She was dressed in a shimmering golden dress that fitted tightly at the waist and flared out to wide pleats at her feet. The sleeves were long and lined with ermine. After riding to London the same day where a procession of citizens greeted the bridal pair, Eleanor was crowned queen consort of England in a ceremony at Westminster Abbey which was followed by a magnificent banquet with the entire nobility in full attendance. Her love for her husband grew significantly from 1236 onward.

Eleanor was a loyal and faithful consort to Henry, but she brought in her retinue a large number of uncles and cousins, "the Savoyards", and her influence with the King and her unpopularity with the English barons created friction during Henry's reign Her uncle William of Savoy became a close advisor of her husband, displacing and displeasing English barons.
Photo: Matthew Paris, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1272, Henry died, and her son Edward, who was 33 years old, became king of England. She remained in England as queen dowager and raised several of her grandchildren: Edward's son Henry and daughter Eleanor and Beatrice's son John. When her grandson Henry died in her care in 1274, Eleanor went into mourning and gave orders for his heart to be buried at the priory at Guildford, which she founded in his memory. In January 1275, she expelled the Jews from all of her lands. Eleanor's two remaining daughters died in 1275, Margaret on 26 February and Beatrice on 24 March.

She retired in 1286 to Amesbury Priory in Wiltshire, eight miles north of Salisbury, where she was visited by her son, King Edward. Two of her granddaughters – Mary of Woodstock (daughter of Edward) and Eleanor of Brittany – were already nuns there, each having entered the priory on reaching the age of seven. 

Eleanor died on 24 June 1291 at the priory and was buried there. The site of her grave is unknown, making her the only English queen without a marked grave. Her heart was taken to London where it was buried at the Franciscan priory of Greyfriars.
Eleanor of Provence's role in English history is notable for her influence on cultural and political matters during her time as queen consort. Her marriage to Henry III helped cement connections between the English monarchy and continental Europe, and her descendants played significant roles in English and European history.  Information partly from Wikimedia.

Henry and Eleanor had five children.

Edward I (b. 17/18 June 1239 – d. 7 July 1307)
Margaret (b. 29 September 1240 – d. 26 February 1275)
Beatrice (b. 25 June 1242 – d. 24 March 1275)
Edmund (16 January 1245 – d. 5 June 1296)
Katherine (b. 25 November 1253 – d. 3 May 1257)
Henry had no known illegitimate children.

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