Beatrice of England

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Beatrice of England
Beatrix Engl.jpg
Countess of Richmond
Tenure1268–1275
Born24 June 1242
Bordeaux, France
Died24 March 1275 (aged 32)
London, England
Burial
Spouse
Issue Arthur II, Duke of Brittany
John, 1st Earl of Richmond
Marie, Countess of Saint Pol
Peter, Viscount of Leon
Blanche, Countess of Artois
Eleanor of Brittany, Abbess of Fontevrault
House Plantagenet
Father Henry III, King of England
Mother Eleanor of Provence

Beatrice of England (25 June 1242 – 24 March 1275) [1] was a member of the House of Plantagenet, the daughter of Henry III of England and Eleanor of Provence.

House of Plantagenet Royal dynasty in medieval England

The House of Plantagenet was a royal house which originated from the lands of Anjou in France. The name Plantagenet is used by modern historians to identify four distinct royal houses: the Angevins, who were also counts of Anjou; the main body of the Plantagenets following the loss of Anjou; and the Plantagenets' two cadet branches, the houses of Lancaster and York. The family held the English throne from 1154, with the accession of Henry II, until 1485, when Richard III died in battle.

Henry III of England 13th-century King of England and Duke of Aquitaine

Henry III, also known as Henry of Winchester, was King of England, Lord of Ireland, and Duke of Aquitaine from 1216 until his death. The son of King John and Isabella of Angoulême, Henry assumed the throne when he was only nine in the middle of the First Barons' War. Cardinal Guala declared the war against the rebel barons to be a religious crusade and Henry's forces, led by William Marshal, defeated the rebels at the battles of Lincoln and Sandwich in 1217. Henry promised to abide by the Great Charter of 1225, which limited royal power and protected the rights of the major barons. His early rule was dominated first by Hubert de Burgh and then Peter des Roches, who re-established royal authority after the war. In 1230, the King attempted to reconquer the provinces of France that had once belonged to his father, but the invasion was a debacle. A revolt led by William Marshal's son, Richard, broke out in 1232, ending in a peace settlement negotiated by the Church.

Eleanor of Provence 13th-century French noblewoman and Queen of England

Eleanor of Provence was Queen consort of England, as the spouse of King Henry III of England, from 1236 until his death in 1272. She served as regent of England during the absence of her spouse in 1253.

Contents

Childhood

Beatrice was the second eldest daughter of King Henry III of England and Eleanor of Provence. [1] Beatrice's childhood was plagued by tragedy, and the stresses of her father's reign coupled with her mother's unpopularity with the English people.

Her oldest brother Edward became dangerously ill when she was very young. Though he recovered, Beatrice's youngest sister Katharine died at a very young age leaving Beatrice's parents grief-stricken. Katharine, who possibly had a degenerative disease that had caused her to become deaf, died at the age of four.

The English were unhappy with King Henry III owing to the influence that Eleanor and her Savoyard kinsmen exercised on the monarchy, and the Barons demanded more power. In 1263, Eleanor was sailing on a barge that was attacked by London citizens. This harsh, bitter dislike created several problems for Henry III and his family. On the other hand, Eleanor and Henry enjoyed a happy marriage, and Beatrice grew up in a loving environment, close to her siblings.

Marriage and issue

At one point, Henry conducted negotiations for Beatrice to marry the king of France and also rejected a proposal that she should wed the son of the King of Norway. On 22 January 1260, when she was seventeen, she married John de Dreux, heir to the duchy of Brittany. [2] She and John II had six children:

John II, Duke of Brittany Duke of Brittany

John II reigned as Duke of Brittany from 1286 until his death, and was also Earl of Richmond in the Peerage of England. He took part in two crusades prior to his accession to the ducal throne. As a duke, John was involved in the conflicts between the kings of France and England. He was crushed to death in an accident during the celebrations of a papal coronation.

Arthur II, Duke of Brittany Duke of Brittany

Arthur II, of the House of Dreux, was Duke of Brittany from 1305 to his death. He was the first son of John II and Beatrice, daughter of Henry III of England and Eleanor of Provence.

John of Brittany, Earl of Richmond British Earl

John of Brittany, called in French Jean de Bretagne, 4th Earl of Richmond, was an English nobleman and a member of the Ducal house of Brittany, the House of Dreux. He entered royal service in England under his uncle Edward I, and also served Edward II. On 15 October 1306 he received his father's title of Earl of Richmond. He was named Guardian of Scotland in the midst of England's conflicts with Scotland and in 1311 Lord Ordainer during the baronial rebellion against Edward II.

Marie of Brittany (1268–1339) was the daughter of John II, Duke of Brittany, and Beatrice of England. She is also known as Marie de Dreux.

Beatrice Beatrice Plantagenet.JPG
Beatrice

Death

Beatrice died on 24 March 1275 in London, England. Her death was once said to have occurred in childbirth, but the dates do not bear out this theory, which has been disproved in several articles. John II honoured his wife with a chantry, an institutional chapel on private land or within a greater church, which was to be finished when he died, so that he and Beatrice would be together again. Beatrice was buried at Grey Friars Church in Greenwich, London. [4] Her husband succeeded as duke 11 years after her death, therefore Beatrice was never styled Duchess of Brittany.

A chantry or obiit was a form of trust fund established during the pre-Reformation medieval era in England for the purpose of employing one or more priests to sing a stipulated number of masses for the benefit of the soul of a specified deceased person, usually the donor who had established the chantry in his will, during a stipulated period of time immediately following his death. It was believed such masses would speed the deceased's soul through its undesirable and indeterminate period in Purgatory onwards to eternal rest in Heaven. Once the soul had reached Heaven the ideal state for the Christian human soul had been attained, and the saying of masses would serve no further function. Thus the concept of Purgatory was central to the perceived need for chantries. Chantries were commonly established in England and were endowed with lands, rents from specified properties and other assets by the donor, usually in his will. The income from these assets maintained the chantry priest.

Greyfriars, London Franciscan friary in London

In London, the Greyfriars was a Conventual Franciscan friary that existed from 1225 to 1538 on a site at the North-West of the City of London by Newgate in the parish of St Nicholas in the Shambles. It was the second Franciscan religious house to be founded in the country. The establishment included a conventual church that was one of the largest in London; a studium or regional university; and an extensive library of logical and theological texts. It was an important intellectual centre in the early fourteenth century, rivaled only by Oxford University in status. Members of the community at that time included William of Ockham, Walter Chatton and Adam Wodeham. It flourished in the fourteenth and fifteenth century, but was dissolved in 1538 at the instigation of Henry VIII as part of the dissolution of the monasteries. Christ's Hospital was founded in the old conventual buildings, and the church was rebuilt completely by Christopher Wren as Christ Church after the original church was almost completely destroyed in the Great Fire of London. The building currently standing on the site, designed by Arup, is currently occupied by Merrill Lynch International.

Greenwich town in south-east London, England

Greenwich is an area of south east London, England, located 5.5 miles (8.9 km) east-southeast of Charing Cross. It is located within the Royal Borough of Greenwich, to which it lends its name.

Historical overview

Though little information is available concerning Beatrice's activities, she was an important part of English history. Her marriage to John II helped forge an alliance with France, thus placing the Earldom of Richmond under the so-called shield of England.

During Henry's reign, there was much opposition to him in England. At a time when Simon de Montfort wanted to strip the king of some of his power to give more say to the barons, it was necessary for Henry to strengthen his rule via family marriages to useful people. His first daughter had married the King of Scotland, and Beatrice's marriage to John II, who controlled the Earldom of Richmond, gave Henry an additional source of power. Moreover, a substantial number of French nobles came to England and could be appointed to political positions.

When Henry was crowned, very few areas within the Angevin Empire (comprising Gascony, Béarn, Angoulême, Saintonge and Agenais), remained loyal to Henry.

The marriage of Beatrice and John II would prove to be useful for Henry III, if only to help Henry recover Poitou. Now Henry had English security and influence on the northern border, and the instance on English overlordship. Though Henry was planning on regaining Poitou, he was defeated after his campaign. Because he could not regain Poitou, his domains were small compared to the Angevin Empire. With his various strategies, Henry III reigned over England for 56 years until his death in 1272.

Ancestry

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References

  1. 1 2 Howell 1992, p. 57.
  2. Waugh 1988, p. 179.
  3. Golden 2002, p. 73.
  4. Her burial is recorded in the London Greyfriar's register: Kingsford, Charles Lethbridge (1915), "Register of the Grey Friars of London: Index of those buried in the church and cloister (A–K)", The Grey Friars of London, pp. 134–139

Bibliography