Beatrice of England

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Beatrice of England
Beatrix Engl.jpg
Countess of Richmond
Tenure 1268–1275
Spouse John II, Duke of Brittany
Issue
Arthur II, Duke of Brittany
John, 1st Earl of Richmond
Marie, Countess of Saint Pol
Blanche, Countess of Artois
House House of Plantagenet (by birth)
House of Dreux (by marriage)
Father Henry III of Winchester, King of England
Mother Eleanor of Provence
Born 25 June 1242
Bordeaux, France
Died 24 March 1275 (aged 32)
London, England
Burial Grey Friars Church, London

Beatrice of England (25 June 1242[1] – 24 March 1275), also known as Beatrice de Dreux, was a Princess of England as the daughter of King Henry III of England and Eleanor of Provence. Her siblings were Edward I of England, Margaret, Queen of Scotland, Edmund Crouchback, 1st Earl of Lancaster, Richard of England, John of England, Katherine of England, William of England, and Henry of England. She and her family were members of the Royal house of Plantagenet, which first ruled in the 12th century and was founded by Henry II of England.

Childhood[edit]

Beatrice was born in Bordeaux, France, the second eldest daughter of King Henry III of England and Eleanor of Provence. 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 three.

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[edit]

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. When she was eighteen she married John de Dreux, heir to the dukedom of Brittany. Beatrice later changed her name to Beatrice de Dreux, and she and John II had six children:

Beatrice

Death[edit]

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.[2] Her husband succeeded as duke 11 years after her death, therefore Beatrice was never styled Duchess of Brittany.

Historical overview[edit]

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.

Her descendants include queen consorts Elizabeth Woodville[3] and Anne of Cleves.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Boutell, Charles. The Handbook to English Heraldry. University of Michigan, Michigan:
  • Reeves and Turner, 1914. 138.
  • Cannon, John, and Ralph Griffiths. The Oxford Illustrated History of the British Monarchy. New York, New York: Oxford UP, 1988. 147.
  • Crawford, Anne. Letters of Medieval Women. Grand Rapids: Sutton, Limited, 2002. 35.
  • French, George R. Shakespeareana Genealogica. Boston, Massachusetts: Macmillian, 1869. 5-30.
  • Richardson, Douglas. Plantagenet Ancestry : A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families. Boston: Genealogical Company, Incorporated, 2004. 13-18.
  • The Yorkshire Archaeological Society. The Yorkshire Archaeological Journal. Yorkshire: Yorkshire Archaeological Society, 1905. 163.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Charles Cawley, Medieval Lands, Kings of England
  2. ^ 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 
  3. ^ Douglas Richardson. Plantagenet Ancestry: A Study In Colonial And Medieval Families, 2nd Edition, 2011. pg 533-42.