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Berengaria of Navarre
Queen consort of the English
Tenure 12 May 1191 – 6 April 1199
Coronation 12 May 1191
Spouse Richard I of England
House House of Jiménez (by birth)
House of Plantagenet (by marriage)
Father Sancho VI of Navarre
Mother Sancha of Castile
Born c. 1165-1170
Died 23 December 1230 (aged 59–65)

Berengaria of Navarre (Spanish: Berenguela, French: Bérengère; c. 1165-1170 – 23 December 1230) was Queen of the English as the wife of King Richard I of England. She was the eldest daughter of King Sancho VI of Navarre and Sancha of Castile.

Contents

Marriage

Berengaria married Richard I of England on 12 May 1191 and was crowned the same day by the Archbishop of Bordeaux and Bishops of Evreux and Bayonne. As is the case with many of the medieval queens consort of the Kingdom of England, relatively little is known of her life. It seems that she and Richard did in fact meet once, years before their marriage, and writers of the time liked to claim that there was an attraction between them at that time. Richard had been betrothed many years earlier to Princess Alys, sister of King Philip II of France. Alys, however, may have been the mistress of Richard's own father, King Henry II, and some said the mother of Henry's illegitimate child; a marriage between Richard and Alys would therefore be technically impossible for religious reasons of affinity. Richard terminated his betrothal to Alys in 1190 while at Messina.

He had Berengaria brought to him by his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Since Richard was already on the Third Crusade, having wasted no time in setting off after his coronation, the two women had a long and difficult journey to catch up with him. They arrived in Sicily during Lent (when the marriage could not take place) in 1191 and were joined by Richard's sister Joan, the widowed Queen of Sicily. En route to the Holy Land, the ship carrying Berengaria and Joan went aground off the coast of Cyprus, and they were threatened by the island's ruler, Isaac Comnenus. Richard came to their rescue, captured the island, overthrew Comnenus, and married Berengaria in the Chapel of St. George at Limassol.

Queen consort

Whether the marriage was ever even consummated is a matter for conjecture. In any case, Richard certainly took his new wife with him for the first part of the crusade. They returned separately, but Richard was captured and imprisoned. Berengaria remained in Europe, attempting to raise money for his ransom. After his release, Richard returned to England and was not joined by his wife. The marriage was childless, and Berengaria was thought to be barren.

When Richard returned to England, he had to regain all the territory that had either been lost by his brother John or taken by King Philip of France. His focus was on his kingdom, not his queen. Richard was ordered by Pope Celestine III to reunite with Berengaria and to show fidelity to her in future. Richard obeyed and took Berengaria to church every week thereafter. When he died in 1199, she was greatly distressed, perhaps more so at being deliberately overlooked as Queen of England and Cyprus. Some historians believe that Berengaria honestly loved her husband, while Richard's feelings for her were merely formal, as the marriage was a political rather than a romantic union.

Queen dowager

Tomb effigy of Berengaria of Navarre

Berengaria never visited England during King Richard's lifetime; during the entirety of their marriage, Richard spent less than six months in England. There is evidence, however, that she may have done so in the years following his death. The traditional description of her as "the only English queen never to set foot in the country" would still be literally true, as she did not visit England during the time she was Richard's consort. She certainly sent envoys to England several times, mainly to inquire about the pension she was due as dowager queen and Richard's widow, which King John failed to pay. Although Queen Eleanor intervened and Pope Innocent III threatened him with an interdict if he did not pay Berengaria what was due, King John still owed her more than £4000 when he died. During the reign of his son Henry III of England, however, her payments were made as they were supposed to be.

Berengaria eventually settled in Le Mans, one of her dower properties. She was a benefactress of the abbey of L'Epau, entered the conventual life, and was buried in the abbey. A skeleton thought to be hers was discovered in 1960 during the restoration of the abbey.

Ancestry

In Fiction

Novels featuring Berengaria include:

The 1935 film The Crusades starring Loretta Young and Henry Wilcoxon tells a fictionalized story of Richard and Berengaria's marriage. The 1960s British television series Richard the Lionheart prominently features their marriage. Both versions were highly romanticised and are not reliable sources of information about the queen.

References

English royalty
Preceded by
Eleanor of Aquitaine
Queen consort of the English
12 May 1191 – 6 April 1199
Succeeded by
Isabella of Angoulême
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Simple English

Berengaria of Navarre
Queen consort of the English (more...)
Consort 12 May 1191 – 6 April 1199
Consort to Richard I of England
Titles and styles
The Queen Dowager
The Queen
Infanta Berengaria of Navarre
Royal house House of Plantagenet
House of Jiménez
Father Sancho VI of Navarre
Mother Sancha of Castile
Born c. 1165-1170
Died 23 December 1230 (aged 59–65)

Berengaria (Spanish: Berenguela, French: Bérengère; c. 1165-1170 – 23 December 1230), was the oldest daughter of Sancho VI of Navarre and Sancha of Castile. Her mother's parents were Alfonso VII of León and Berenguela of Barcelona. She was the wife of Richard I of England. They had no children.

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