||Eleanor (Provence) of England was a member of aristocracy in the British Isles.|
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Eleanor of Provence (c. 1223 – 24/25 June 1291) was Queen consort of England as the spouse of King Henry III of England from 1236 until his death in 1272.
Although she was completely devoted to her husband, and staunchly defended him against the rebel Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, she was very much hated by the Londoners. This was because she had brought a large number of relatives with her to England in her retinue; these were known as "the Savoyards", and they were given influential positions in the government and realm. On one occasion, Eleanor's barge was attacked by angry citizens who pelted her with stones, mud, pieces of paving, rotten eggs and vegetables.
Eleanor was the mother of five children including the future King Edward I of England. She also was renowned for her cleverness, skill at writing poetry, and as a leader of fashion.
Born in Aix-en-Provence, she was the second daughter of Ramon Berenguer V, Count of Provence (1198–1245) and Beatrice of Savoy (1205–1267), the daughter of Thomas I of Savoy and his second wife Margaret of Geneva. Her three sisters also married kings. Like her mother, grandmother, and sisters, Eleanor was renowned for her beauty. She was a dark-haired brunette with fine eyes. Piers Langtoft speaks of her as "The erle's daughter, the fairest may of life". On 22 June 1235, Eleanor was betrothed to King Henry III of England (1207–1272). Eleanor was probably born in 1223; Matthew Paris describes her as being "jamque duodennem" (already twelve) when she arrived in the Kingdom of England for her marriage.
Marriage and issue
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 gown which was tightly-fitted to the waist, and then flared out in wide pleats to 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.
Eleanor and Henry together had five children:
Four others are listed, but their existence is in doubt as there is no contemporary record of them. These are:
Eleanor was renowned for her learning, cleverness, and skill at writing poetry, as well as her beauty; she was also known as a leader of fashion, continually importing clothes from France. She often wore parti-coloured cottes (a type of tunic), gold or silver girdles into which a dagger was casually thrust, she favoured red silk damask, and decorations of gilt quatrefoil, and to cover her dark hair she wore jaunty pillbox caps. Eleanor introduced a new type of wimple to England, which was high, "into which the head receded until the face seemed like a flower in an enveloping spathe".
Eleanor seems to have been especially devoted to her eldest son, Edward; when he was deathly ill in 1246, she stayed with him at the abbey at Beaulieu in Hampshire for three weeks, long past the time allowed by monastic rules. It was because of her influence that King Henry granted the duchy of Gascony to Edward in 1249. Her youngest child, Katharine, seems to have had a degenerative disease that rendered her deaf. When the little girl died at the age of three, both her royal parents suffered overwhelming grief.
Eleanor was a loyal and faithful consort to Henry, but she brought in her retinue a large number of cousins, "the Savoyards," and her influence with the King and her unpopularity with the English barons created friction during Henry's reign. Eleanor was devoted to her husband's cause, stoutly contested Simon de Montfort, raising troops in France for Henry's cause. On 13 July 1263, she was sailing down the Thames when her barge was attacked by citizens of London. Eleanor stoutly hated the Londoners who returned her hatred; in revenge for their dislike Eleanor had demanded from the city all the back payments due on the monetary tribute known as queen-gold, by which she received a tenth of all fines which came to the Crown. In addition to the queen-gold other such fines were levied on the citizens by the Queen on the thinnest of pretexts. In fear for her life as she was pelted with stones, loose pieces of paving, dried mud, rotten eggs and vegetables, Eleanor was rescued by Thomas Fitzthomas, the Mayor of London, and took refuge at the bishop of London's home.
In 1272 Henry died, and her son Edward, who was 33 years old, became Edward I, King of England. She remained in England as Dowager Queen, 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.
She retired to a convent; however, remained in contact with her son, King Edward, and her sister, Queen Margaret of France. She became a nun at Amesbury Abbey in Wiltshire on July 7, 1284
Eleanor died on 24/25 June 1291 in Amesbury, eight miles north of Salisbury, England. She was buried on 11 September 1291 in the Abbey of St Mary and St Melor, Amesbury on 9 December. Her heart was taken to London where it was buried at the Franciscan priory.
(Royal Ancestry) Eleanor, Queen of England, died testate at Amesbury Priory 24 June 1291, and was buried in the Convent Church there 10 Sept. 1291.
Note: The formal name for the Amesbury Priory was The Abbey Church of St. Mary and St. Melor - also Amesbury Abbey Church - in and around Amesbury the abbey was referred to by those names or just "the parish church." The exact location of Queen Eleanor's burial is not known. Her heart was buried in the Franciscan church at Grey Friars Newgate, London, the year after her death. The heart-tomb appears on a list of Franciscan burials, which records it standing just south of the presbytery. There are no records of Amesbury tombs and none is mentioned in the Abbey's pre-Dissolution inventory of 1536. In 1540, the abbey was dissolved by Henry VIII and many of its buildings were destroyed.
Today part of what remained of the Abbey Church after Dissolution is supported by The Friends of Amesbury Abbey Church who maintain this lovely medieval church which is an intact cruciform church of the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries. Last renovated in 1853. The church celebrated its 1000th anniversary in 1995.
(Royal Tombs of Medieval England) She retired to Fontevrault sister-house at Amesbury in 1286, and died there on 24 June 1291. According to the Osney chronicler, the queen's body was embalmed and the choice of burial location delayed until Edward I returned from campaign in Scotland. Eleanor was buried at Amesbury on 8 September, the funeral coinciding with the feast of the Nativity of the Virgin. Most of the tombs (at Amesbury) were dismantled around 1547 and later sold off.
Eleanor is the protagonist of "The Queen From Provence", a historical romance by British novelist Jean Plaidy which was published in 1979.
in: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleanor_of_Provence>
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