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We left off with the descendants Isabella of France, wife of Edward II, in our examination of the royal ancestry of Henry VII. Today we will begin with Eleanor of Castile the wife of Edward I, King of England and Lord of Ireland.

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Henry VII, King of England and Lord of Ireland.

Edward I (June 17/18, 1239 – July 7, 1307), also known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots (Latin: Malleus Scotorum), was King of England from 1272 to 1307. Before his accession to the throne, he was commonly referred to as The Lord Edward. Edward was born at the Palace of Westminster on the night of 17–18 June 1239, to King Henry III of England (1216-1272) and Eleanor of Provence. Edward is an Anglo-Saxon name, and was not commonly given among the aristocracy of England after the Norman conquest, but Henry was devoted to the veneration of Edward the Confessor (1042-1066), and decided to name his firstborn son after the saint.* Edward I was a tall man (6’2″) for his era, hence the nickname “Longshanks“. He was temperamental, and this, along with his height, made him an intimidating man, and he often instilled fear in his contemporaries.

Nevertheless, he held the respect of his subjects for the way he embodied the medieval ideal of kingship, as a soldier, an administrator and a man of faith. Edward I is credited with many accomplishments during his reign, including restoring royal authority after the reign of Henry III, establishing Parliament as a permanent institution and thereby also a functional system for raising taxes, and reforming the law through statutes. At the same time, he is also often criticised for other actions, such as his brutal conduct towards the Welsh and Scots, and issuing the Edict of Expulsion in 1290, by which the Jews were expelled from England.

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Edward I, King of England, Lord of Ireland and Duke of Aquitaine.

In 1252, Alfonso X of Castile and León (1252-1284) had resurrected another ancestral claim, this time to the duchy of Gascony, in the south of Aquitaine, last possession of the Kings of England in France, which he claimed had formed part of the dowry of Eleanor of England. Henry III of England swiftly countered Alfonso X’s claims with both diplomatic and military moves. Early in 1254 the two kings began to negotiate the marriage between his fifteen-year-old son and thirteen-year-old Eleanor, Alfonso X’s half-sister. After haggling over the financial provision for Eleanor, Henry III and Alfonso X agreed Eleanor would marry Henry’s son Edward, and Alfonso would transfer his Gascon claims to Edward. Eleanor and Edward were married on November 1, 1254 in the Abbey of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas in Castile. As part of the marriage agreement, the young prince received grants of land worth 15,000 marks a year.

Eleanor was born in Burgos, daughter of Ferdinand III of Castile León (1230-1252) and Joan, Countess of Ponthieu. Her Castilian name, Leonor, became Alienor or Alianor in England, and Eleanor in modern English. She was named after her paternal great-grandmother, Eleanor of England, the daughter of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine. This made Edward and Eleanor second cousins once removed.

Eleanor of Castile’s great-great grandfather was Louis VII of France (1137-1180) and his great-grandmother was Alice of Normandy the daughter of of Richard II, Duke of Normandy (972–1026) and Judith of Brittany. Richard II of Normandy was the the paternal grandfather of William the Conqueror (1066-1087) King of England, Duke of Normandy. This displays that Eleanor of Castile’s lineage descends not only from the Kings of England but from at least two lines from the Dukes of Normandy.

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Louis VII, King of France.

I will not pursue the descendants of the wives of Henry II, John or Henry III for they simply repeat descent from either the kings of France or other members of the French nobility. However, I do want to mention Henry VII’s descent from Henry I of England (1100-1135) specifically his spouse, Matilda of Scotland (c. 1080 – May 1, 1118) and her mother Margaret of Wessex.

Matilda, originally christened Edith, was Queen of England as the first wife of King Henry I. She acted as regent of England in the absence of her spouse on several occasions. Matilda was the daughter of Margaret of Wessex and Malcolm III, King of Scots. On November 11, 1100 Matilda married Henry I of England. Henry was now around 31 years old, Margaret was about 19/20 years of age but late marriages for noblemen such as Henry was not unusual in the 11th century. The pair had probably first met earlier the previous decade, possibly being introduced through Bishop Osmund of Salisbury.

Matilda’s mother was St. Margaret of Wessex (c. 1045 – November 1093), she was an English princess and a Scottish queen, sometimes called “The Pearl of Scotland.” Born in exile in the Kingdom of Hungary, was the daughter of the English prince Edward the Exile, and granddaughter of Edmund II Ironside, King of England (1016) Margaret and her family returned to the Kingdom of England in 1057, but fled to the Kingdom of Scotlandfollowing the Norman conquest of England in 1066. By the end of 1070, Margaret had married King Malcolm III of Scotland (1058-1093) becoming Queen of Scots.

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Malcolm III, King of Scots greets Margaret of Wessex.

Margaret was a descendant of Alfred The Great, King of Wessex from 871 to c. 886 and King of the Anglo-Saxons from c. 886 to 899. And further back she descends from Cerdic leader of the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain, being the founder and first king of Saxon Wessex, reigning from c.519 to c.534.

Margaret’s husband Malcolm III, king of Scots and their eldest son Edward, were killed in the Battle of Alnwick against the English on November 13, 1093. Her son Edgar was left with the task of informing his mother of their deaths. Not yet 50 years old, Margaret died on November 16, 1093, three days after the deaths of her husband and eldest son. The cause of death was reportedly grief. Pope Innocent IV (1243-1254) canonized St. Margaret in 1250 in recognition of her personal holiness, fidelity to the Roman Catholic Church, work for ecclesiastical reform, and charity.

* Since the use of ordinal numbers had not come into common usage during the reign of Edward Longshanks, he was simply known as King Edward or King Edward Longshanks. It wasn’t until the successive reigns of his son and grandson, also named Edward, that Edward Longshanks became known as Edward I. But this was not accurate for there were three Anglo-Saxon kings named Edward prior to the Norman conquest. Therefore, Edward I was in reality the fourth King of England by that name and should have been called King Edward IV.