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Berengaria of Navarre

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Dates:

Born 1163? 1165?
Married May 12, 1191 to Richard I of England
Died December 23, 1230

Occupation: Queen of England - Queen consort of Richard I of England, Richard the Lionhearted

Known for: the only Queen of England never to set foot on the soil of England

About Berengaria of Navarre:

Beregaria was the daughter of King Sancho VI of Navarre, called Sancho the wise, and Blanche of Castile.

Richard I of England had been betrothed to Princess Alice of France, sister of King Phillip IV. But Richard's father, Henry II, had made Alice his mistress, and church rules therefore forbid the marriage of Alice and Richard.

Berengaria was chosen as wife to Richard I by Richard's mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine. The marriage with Berengaria would bring a dowry that would help Richard finance his efforts in the Third Crusade.

Eleanor, though almost 70 years old, traveled over the Pyrenees to escort Berengaria to Sicily. In Sicily, Eleanor's daughter and Richard's sister, Joan of England, embarked with Berengaria to join Richard in the Holy Land.

But the ship carrying Joan and Berengaria was wrecked off the shore of Cyprus. The ruler, Isaac Comnenus, took them prisoner. Richard and part of his army landed in Cyprus to free them, and Isaac foolishly attacked. Richard freed his bride and his sister, defeated and captured Comnenus, and took control of Cyprus.

Berengaria and Richard were married on May 12, 1191, and set off together to Acre in Palestine. Berengaria left the Holy Land for Poitou, France, and when Richard was on his way back to Europe in 1192, he was captured and then held prisoner in Germany until 1194, when his mother arranged for his ransom.

Berengaria and Richard had no children. Richard is widely believed to have been a homosexual, and though he had at least one illegitimate child, it is believed that the marriage with Berengaria was little more than a formality. When he returned from captivity, their relationship was so bad that a priest went so far as to order Richard to reconcile with his wife.

After Richard's death, Berengaria as dowager queen retired to LeMans in Maine. King John, Richard's brother, seized much of her property and refused to repay her. Berengaria lived in virtual poverty during John's lifetime. She sent to England to complain that her pension was not being paid. Eleanor and Pope Innocent III each intervened, but John never did pay her most of what was owed to her. John's son, Henry III, finally did pay much of the overdue debts.

Berengaria died in 1230, soon after founding Pietas Dei at Espau, a Cistercian monastery.

Bibliography:

  • Ann Trindade. Berengaria: In Search of Richard's Queen. 1999. (compare prices) [1851824340]

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