Eleanor of Provence

Eleanor of Provence was born around 1223 at Aix-en-Provence. She was the second daughter of Raymond Berenguer IV, Count of Provence and Beatrice of Savoy.

In her youth, she took pleasure in writing poetry and is renowned as a leader of fashion.

The marriage of Eleanor and Henry III of England was to take place even though they had never met, and she had never visited his kingdom.

They were married on 14 January 1236 at Canterbury Cathedral; she was then crowned Queen Consort of England at Westminster Abbey.

When Eleanor arrived in England, she brought many relatives ‘the Savoyards’ with her. These members of her family were given positions of power in England, influencing the government and this made Eleanor unpopular with the barons and the English people.

Eleanor however was committed to Henry’s cause. She became regent of England when her husband went to Gascony in 1253 and she also raised troops for Henry in France when his barons threatened to rise against him. Still she courted the dislike of the English people, but this was mirrored by her own dislike of them.

An incident took place where Eleanor was sailing by barge down the Thames, when her barge was attacked by Londoners. She was pelted with stones, mud, vegetables and rotten eggs, before being rescued by Thomas Fitzthomas, Mayor of London. She then sought refuge at the bishop of London’s home.

Henry III died in 1272 and was succeeded by his son Edward. Many may have assumed that Philippa would then return to France, however she decided to remain in England and help raise many of her grandchildren. When her grandson Henry died in her care, she founded the priory at Guildford in his memory.

Eleanor retired to a convent where she died in June 1291 in Amesbury, north of Salisbury. She was buried in the Abbey of St Mary and St Melor, Amesbury on 9 December 1291. Her heart was taken to London and buried at the Franciscan Priory.

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