- For other people named Eleanor of Castile, see Eleanor of Castile (disambiguation)
Eleanor of England, Queen of Castile (Spanish: Leonor; 13 October 1162 – 31 October 1214) was Queen of Castile and Toledo as wife of Alfonso VIII of Castile. She was the sixth child and second daughter of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine.
Eleanor was born in the castle at Domfront, Normandy on 13 October 1161. She was baptized by Henry of Marcy.
She had five older siblings: William IX, Count of Poitiers (1153-1156), Henry the Young King (1155-1183), Matilda of England, Duchess of Saxony (1156-1189), Richard I of England (1157-1199), Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany (1158-1186), and two younger siblings: Joan of England, Queen of Sicily (1165-1199), John, King of England (1166-1216). Eleanor had several illegitimate siblings from her father: Geoffrey (1152-1212) and William Longespée, 3rd Earl of Salisbury (1176-1226). From her mother's first marriage, Eleanor had two older sisters: Marie of France, Countess of Champagne (1145-1198) and Alix of France (1150-1197 or 1198).
When she was 14 years old, before 17 September 1177, Eleanor was married to King Alfonso VIII of Castile in Burgos. The marriage had been arranged some years earlier; the couple were betrothed in 1170 but, because of Eleanor’s youth at that time, the wedding was delayed. Her parents' purpose in arranging the marriage was to secure Aquitaine's Pyrenean border, while Alfonso was seeking an ally in his struggles with his uncle, Sancho VI of Navarre. In 1177, this led to Henry overseeing arbitration of the border dispute.
Around 1200, Alfonso began to claim that the duchy of Gascony was part of Eleanor's dowry, but there is no documented foundation for that claim. It is highly unlikely that Henry II would have parted with so significant a portion of his domains. At most, Gascony may have been pledged as security for the full payment of his daughter's dowry. Alfonso went so far on this claim as to invade Gascony in Eleanor's name in 1205. In 1206, her brother, John, King of England, granted her safe passage to visit him, perhaps to try opening peace negotiations. In 1208, Alfonso yielded on the claim. Decades later, their great-grandson Alfonso X of Castile would claim the duchy on the grounds that her dowry had never been fully paid.
In her own marriage treaty, and in the first marriage treaty for her daughter Berengaria, Eleanor was given direct control of many lands, towns, and castles throughout the kingdom. She was almost as powerful as Alfonso, who specified in his will in 1204 that she was to rule alongside their son in the event of his death, including taking responsibility for paying his debts and executing his will. It was she who persuaded him to marry their daughter Berengaria to Alfonso IX of León. Troubadours and sages were regularly present in Alfonso VIII's court due to Eleanor’s patronage.
Eleanor took particular interest in supporting religious institutions. In 1179, she took responsibility to support and maintain a shrine to St. Thomas Becket in the cathedral of Toledo. She also created and supported the Abbey of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas, which served as a refuge and tomb for her family for generations, and its affiliated hospital.
When Alfonso died, Eleanor was reportedly so devastated with grief that she was unable to preside over the burial. Their eldest daughter Berengaria instead performed these honours.
Eleanor took sick and died on 31 October 1214, only twenty-eight days after her husband. She was buried at Abbey of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas.
Titles, Styles, Honors, & Arms
In popular culture
Eleanor was praised for her beauty and regal nature by the poet Ramón Vidal de Besalú after her death.
- 1919: played by Ida Norden The Jewess of Toledo.
References & External Links
Richeza of Poland, Queen of Castile
|Queen consort of Castile
Mafalda of Portugal
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