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Blanche of Castile
Queen consort of France
Tenure 14 July 1223 – 1 January 1234
Coronation 6 August 1223
Spouse Louis VIII of France
Issue
Princess Blanche of France
Princess Agnes of France
Prince Philippe of France
Prince Alphonse of France
Prince John of France
Louis IX of France
Robert I, Count of Artois
Prince Philippe of France
John Tristan, Count of Anjou and Maine
Alphonse, Count of Toulouse and Poitiers
Prince Philippe Dagobert of France
Saint Isabelle of France
Charles I of Sicily
House House of Burgundy
House of Capet
Father Alfonso VIII of Castile
Mother Eleanor of England
Born 4 March 1188(1188-03-04)
Palencia, Castile
Died 26 November 1252 (aged 64)
Paris, France

Blanche of Castile (Blanca de Castilla in Spanish; 4 March 1188 – 26 November 1252), wife of Louis VIII of France. She was born in Palencia, Spain, the third daughter of Alfonso VIII, king of Castile, and of Eleanor of England. Eleanor was a daughter of Henry II of England and his Queen consort Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Contents

Biography

In consequence of a treaty between Philip Augustus and John of England, Blanche's sister Urraca was betrothed to the former's son, Louis. Their grandmother Eleanor, upon getting acquainted with the two sisters, judged that Blanche's personality was more fit for a queen of France. In the spring of 1200 she brought her to France instead. On 22 May 1200 the treaty was finally signed, John ceding with his niece the fiefs of Issoudun and Graçay, together with those that André de Chauvigny, lord of Châteauroux, held in Berry, of the English crown. The marriage was celebrated the next day, at Portmort on the right bank of the Seine, in John's domains, as those of Philip lay under an interdict.

Blanche first displayed her great qualities in 1216, when Louis, who on the death of John claimed the English crown in her right, invaded England, only to find a united nation against him. Philip Augustus refused to help his son, and Blanche was his sole support. The queen established herself at Calais and organized two fleets, one of which was commanded by Eustace the Monk, and an army under Robert of Courtenay; but all her resolution and energy were in vain. Although it would seem that her masterful temper exercised a sensible influence upon her husband's gentler character, her role during his reign (1223–1226) is not well known.

Upon his death he left Blanche regent and guardian of his children. Of her twelve or thirteen children, six had died, and Louis, the heir — afterwards the sainted Louis IX — was but twelve years old.

The situation was critical, for the hard-won domains of the house of Capet seemed likely to fall to pieces during a minority. Blanche had to bear the whole burden of affairs alone, to break up a league of the barons (1226), and to repel the attack of the king of England (1230). But her energy and firmness overcame all dangers.

There was an end to the calumnies circulated against her, based on the poetical homage rendered her by Count Theobald IV of Champagne, a.k.a. King Theobald I of Navarre since 1234, and the prolonged stay in Paris of the papal legate, Romano Bonaventura, cardinal of Sant' Angelo. The nobles were awed by her warlike preparations or won over by adroit diplomacy, and their league was broken up. St Louis owed his realm to his mother, but he himself always remained somewhat under the spell of her imperious personality.

She did not have a good relationship with her daughter-in-law Margaret of Provence, perhaps due to the strong relationship she had with her son. Jean de Joinville tells of the time when Queen Margaret was giving birth and Blanche entered the room telling her son to leave saying "Come ye hence, ye do naught here". Queen Margaret then allegedly fainted out of distress. When Queen Margaret was present in the royal household she did not like Margaret and Louis to be together "except when he went to lie with her"[1].

After Louis came of age, in 1234, aged 20, her influence upon him may still be traced. The same year, he was married, and Blanche became Queen mother. Louis married Margaret of Provence, who was the eldest of four daughters of Ramon, count of Provence, and Beatrice of Savoy. In 1248 Blanche again became regent, during Louis IX's absence on the crusade, a project which she had strongly opposed. In the disasters which followed she maintained peace, while draining the land of men and money to aid her son in the East. At last her strength failed her. She fell ill at Melun in November 1252, and was taken to Paris, but lived only a few days. She was buried at Maubuisson.

Issue

  1. Blanche (1205–1206).
  2. Agnes (b. and d. 1207).
  3. Philippe (9 September 1209 – July 1218), married (or only betrothed) in 1217 to Agnes of Donzy.
  4. Alphonse (b. and d. Lorrez-le-Bocage, 23 January 1213).
  5. John (b. and d. Lorrez-le-Bocage, 23 January 1213), twin of Alphonse.
  6. Louis IX (Poissy, 25 April 1214 – 25 August 1270, Tunis), King of France as successor to his father.
  7. Robert (25 September 1216 – 9 February 1250, killed in battle, Manssurah, Egypt)
  8. Philippe (2 January 1218–1220).
  9. John Tristan (21 July 1219–1232), Count of Anjou and Maine.
  10. Alphonse (Poissy, 11 November 1220 – 21 August 1271, Corneto), Count of Poitou and Auvergne, and by marriage, of Toulouse.
  11. Philippe Dagobert (20 February 1222–1232).
  12. Isabel (14 April 1225 – 23 February 1269).
  13. Charles Etienne (21 March 1226 – 7 January 1285), Count of Anjou and Maine, by marriage Count of Provence and Folcalquier, and King of Sicily.

Literature

Besides the works of Joinville and William of Nangis, see Élie Berger, "Histoire de Blanche de Castille, reine de France", in Bibliothèque des écoles francaises d’Athènes et de Rome, vol. lxx. (Paris, 1895); Le Nain de Tillemont, "Vie de Saint Louis", ed. by J. de Gaulle for the Société de l'histoire de France (6 vols., 1847–1851); and Paulin Paris, "Nouvelles recherches sur les mœurs de la reine Blanche et de Thibaud", in Cabinet historique (1858).

In popular culture

An image of Blanche of Castille has been used on the home kit of French Rugby Union team Stade Francais since the 2008 season.[2]

Ancestry

References

  1. ^ Jean de Joinville, The History of Saint Louis trans. J.Evans 1938: p 184 (New York Press)
  2. ^ Hannah Wright (16 October 2008). "French rugby fans blanche at multi-coloured shirt". The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-union/club-rugby/french-rugby-fans-blanche-at-multicoloured-shirt-963709.html. Retrieved 21 October 2009. 
French royalty
Preceded by
Ingeborg of Denmark
Queen consort of France
1223 – 1226
Succeeded by
Margaret of Provence
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

BLANCHE OF CASTILE (1188-1252), wife of Louis VIII. of France, third daughter of Alphonso VIII., king of Castile, and of Eleanor of England, daughter of Henry II., was born at Valencia. In consequence of a treaty between Philip Augustus and John of England, she was betrothed to the former's son, Louis, and was brought to France, in the spring of 1200, by John's mother Eleanor. On the 22nd of May 1200 the treaty was finally signed, John ceding with his niece the fiefs of Issoudun and Gragay, together with those that Andre de Chavigny, lord of Chateauroux, held in Berry, of the English crown. The marriage was celebrated the next day, at Portmort on the right bank of the Seine, in John's domains, as those of Philip lay under an interdict.

Blanche first displayed her great qualities in 1216, when Louis, who on the death of John claimed the English crown in her right, invaded England, only to find a united nation against him. Philip Augustus refused to help his son, and Blanche was his sole support. The queen established herself at Calais and organized two fleets, one of which was commanded by Eustace the Monk, and an army under Robert of Courtenay; but all her resolution and energy were in vain. Although it would seem that her masterful temper exercised a sensible influence upon her husband's gentler character, her role during his reign (1223-1226) is not well known. Upon his death he left Blanche regent and guardian of his children. Of her twelve or thirteen children, six had died, and Louis, the heir - afterwards the sainted Louis IX., - was but twelve years old. The situation was critical, for the hard-won domains of the house of Capet seemed likely to fall to pieces during a minority. Blanche had to bear the whole burden of affairs alone, to break up a league of the barons (1226), and to repel the attack of the king of England (1230). But her energy and firmness overcame all dangers. There was an end to the calumnies circulated against her, based on the poetical homage rendered her by Theobald IV., count of Champagne, and the prolonged stay in Paris of the papal legate, Romano Bonaventura, cardinal of Sant' Angelo. The nobles were awed by her warlike preparations or won over by adroit diplomacy, and their league was broken up. St Louis owed his realm to his mother, but he himself always remained somewhat under the spell of her imperious personality. After he came of age (1236) her influence upon him may still be traced. In 1248 she again became regent, during Louis IX.'s absence on the crusade, a project which she had strongly opposed. In the disasters which followed she maintained peace, while draining the land of men and money to aid her son in the East. At last her strength failed her. She fell ill at Melun in November 1252, and was taken to Paris, but lived only a few days. She was buried at Maubuisson.

Besides the works of Joinville and William of Nangis, see Elie Berger, "Histoire de Blanche de Castille, reine de France," in Bibliotheque des ecoles francaises d'Athenes et de Rome, vol. lxx. (Paris, 1895); Le Nain de Tillemont, "Vie de Saint Louis," ed. by J. de Gaulle for the Societe de l'histoire de France (6 vols., 1847-1851); and Paulin Paris, "Nouvelles recherches sur les mceurs de la reine Blanche et de Thibaud," in Cabinet historique (1858).


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