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|Berengaria of Navarre|
|Effigy of Berengaria in the chapter house of L'Abbaye de l'Epau, Le Mans|
|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|
|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. As is the case with many of the medieval queens consort of the Kingdom of England, relatively little is known of her life. The early 20th Century Cunard passenger liner RMS Berengaria was named in her honour, the first Cunard ship to be named for a British queen.
In 1185 Berengaria was given the fief of Monreal by her father. Eleanor of Aquitaine promoted the engagement of Berengaria to her son King Richard. An alliance with Navarre meant protection for the southern borders of Aquitaine. Also, Navarre had assimilated the troubadour culture of Aquitaine and Berengaria's reputation was unbesmirched. It seems that Berengaria and Richard did in fact meet once, years before their marriage, and writers have claimed that there was an attraction between them at that time.
In 1190, Eleanor met Sancho in Pamplona and he hosted a banquet in the Palacio Real de Olite in her honour. The betrothal could not be celebrated openly, for Richard had been betrothed for many years to Princess Alys, sister of King Philip II of France. Richard terminated his betrothal to Alys in 1190 while at Messina. It has been suggested that Alys had become the mistress of Richard's own father, King Henry II, and possibly the mother of an illegitimate child; a marriage between Richard and Alys would therefore be technically impossible for religious reasons of affinity.
Richard 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 at Messina 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. The two women became good friends and Berengaria was left in Joan's custody. 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, and overthrew Comnenus. Berengaria married Richard I of England on 12 May 1191 in the Chapel of St George at Limassol and was crowned the same day by the Archbishop of Bordeaux and Bishops of Évreux and Bayonne.
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.
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 the 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.
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'Épau in Le Mans, entered the conventual life, and was buried in the abbey. A skeleton thought to be hers was rediscovered in 1960 during the restoration of the abbey. These remains are preserved beneath the stone effigy of the queen, which is now to be found in the chapter house of the abbey.
|Ancestors of Berengaria of Navarre|
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.
Eleanor of Aquitaine
|Queen consort of the English
12 May 1191 – 6 April 1199
Isabella of Angoulême
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