Beatrice of Provence

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Beatrice of Provence
BeatrixProvensalska.jpg
Queen Beatrice from the Bible of Naples
Countess of Provence and Forcalquier
Reign 19 August 1245 – 23 September 1267
Predecessor Raymond Berenguer IV
Successor Charles II
Queen consort of Sicily
Tenure 26 February 1266 – 23 September 1267
Spouse Charles I of Sicily
Issue Blanche, Countess of Flanders
Beatrice, Empress of Constantinople
Charles II of Naples
Philip, Prince of Achaïea
Elizabeth, Queen of Hungary
House House of Barcelona (by birth)
House of Anjou-Sicily (by marriage)
Father Raymond Berenguer IV, Count of Provence
Mother Beatrice of Savoy
Born 1231
Died 23 September 1267 (aged 35–36)

Beatrice of Provence (c. 1231 – 23 September 1267) was Countess of Provence and Forcalquier. She was also a Queen consort of Sicily by marriage to King Charles I of Sicily.

The youngest daughter of Raymond Berenguer IV of Provence and Beatrice of Savoy, Beatrice was married on 31 January 1246 to Charles of France, Count of Anjou and Maine, the youngest brother of King Louis IX of France.

In 1248, Beatrice accompanied her husband on the Seventh crusade, and gave birth to her first child in Nicosia. In 1266, Charles was crowned king, making her the Queen of Sicily.

Family[edit]

Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Provence and Forcalquier, had four daughters, but no sons. His eldest daughter, Margaret, was Queen of France as the wife of Louis IX; his second daughter, Eleanor, was Queen of England as the wife of Henry III, and his third, Sanchia, was titular Queen of Germany as the wife of Henry's brother Richard, Earl of Cornwall. King Louis IX's marriage to Margaret had been arranged by his mother, Blanche of Castile, with the hopes that he would inherit Provence and Forcalquier when Ramon Berenguer died. He, however, left everything to Beatrice, making her Countess of Provence in her own right. James I of Aragon, in the hopes of uniting Provence and Toulouse, had planned to marry Beatrice, but when her father died the French court intervened, by getting Pope Innocent IV to refuse the marriage.

Marriage[edit]

When Berenguer had died on 19 August 1245, Beatrice became one of the most attractive heiresses in medieval Europe. Various suitors had tried to seize her, so her mother, Beatrice of Savoy, placed the younger Beatrice in a safe fortress, secured the trust of its people then went to the Pope for his protection. In Cluny during December 1245, a secret discussion took place between Pope Innocent IV, Louis IX of France, his mother Blanche of Castile and his brother Charles of Anjou. It was decided that in return for Louis IX's supporting the Pope militarily, the Pope would allow Charles of Anjou, youngest brother to the French King, to marry Beatrice of Provence. Provence, however, was to never go to France outright through Charles. It was agreed that if Charles and Beatrice had children, the county would go to them; if there was no issue, then the county would go to Beatrice's sister Sanchia. If Sanchia died without an heir, Provence would go to the King of Aragon.

Beatrice of Savoy, who had been granted the usufruct of the county for her lifetime according to her husband's will, agreed to the marriage between Charles of Anjou and her youngest daughter, Beatrice. Charles, along with Philip of Savoy and five hundred knights, rode from Lyon to Provence. On their way, they ran into Raymond VII Count of Toulouse, who also had an army on the way to Provence. However, Raymond of Toulouse had been deceived by knights in favour of Charles and for that reason he had brought fewer men, and Charles and his army were quicker. When Charles got to Aix-en-Provence, James I of Aragon, who had been there all along but was not allowed to see Beatrice, had his soldiers surrounding the castle in which the young Beatrice and her mother were. There was a brief struggle, but the King of Aragon retreated with dignity. To the young Beatrice, Charles, who was described as "an admirable young man", was a satisfactory resolution to her problems. The marriage took place in 31 January 1246, in Aix-en-Provence. They had soldiers on guard and the bride was escorted down the aisle by her uncle, Thomas, count of Savoy.

As soon as Charles became Count of Provence, he brought in his own team of French lawyers and accountants. He excluded his mother-in-law Beatrice of Savoy from the running of the county and began taking castles, power and fees away from the nobles who had previously enjoyed a certain degree of independence in the running of their cities. Charles made himself very unpopular. Beatrice of Savoy moved herself to Forcalquier in protest, and in Marseille, Charles's officials were thrown out of the city. In the family conflict the younger Beatrice sided with her husband.

Engraving of a sealing of Beatrice: Beatrice holds the fleur-de-lis; on the reverse, the arms of Provence

Seventh crusade[edit]

In May 1247, Charles and Beatrice were recorded as being in Melun, where Charles was knighted by his brother Louis. Beatrice accompanied Charles on the seventh crusade in 1248. Led by Louis IX, the crusaders made an extended procession through France. Before they left, Charles and Beatrice met with her mother in Beaucaire to try to come to some terms of agreement concerning Provence. Whilst the more important matters were left until Charles and Beatrice returned, it was decided that Beatrice of Savoy would give up the rights to 'the castle at Aix in exchange for a percentage of the county's revenue.'

In Nicosia Beatrice gave birth to her first child, 'a very elegant and wellformed son', as her brother-in-law Robert of Artois wrote home to his mother the Queen.[citation needed] Beatrice stayed with her sister Margaret in Damietta, when they lost contact with the King and his army, here Beatrice gave birth to her second child; her sister Margaret too gave birth while in Damietta. Later in 1250, they were reunited with the rest of the crusade at Acre, where the King's ransom was paid. Charles and Beatrice, along with several other nobles, left soon after and journeyed to the court of Emperor Frederick II, to ask him to send the King of France more men for his crusade. However, Frederick, who had been excommunicated, needed his army to fight the Pope, and refused. Charles and Beatrice were then forced to go to Lyon to meet with the Pope.[citation needed]

By the time they returned to Provence in 1251, open rebellion had broken out, spurred on by Beatrice's mother, who felt Charles had failed to respect her claims in Provence. However, by July 1252 Charles had managed to defeat the revolt and was in the process of exercising his power as Count of Provence, when in November of the same year, Blanche of Castile died, and Charles and Beatrice had to go to Paris, where Charles co-ruled France with his brother, Alphonse. The Pope offered Charles the Kingdom of Sicily in 1252, but Charles had to turn the offer down, as he was preoccupied with other affairs and he also did not have sufficient funds.

The crusaders returned in 1254. Charles and Beatrice spent Christmas in Paris that year, where all of Beatrice's sisters and their mother were present; it was noted that the other four women treated the younger Beatrice coldly, due to Raymond Berenguer's will.

Queen of Sicily[edit]

Beatrice's sister Margaret, the new Queen of France, publicly offended her in 1259, by not seating her at the family table; she claimed because Beatrice was not a queen like her sisters, she could not sit with them. Margaret had hoped to provoke her sister in treacherous behaviour so she would have a valid reason to invade Provence. Beatrice "with great grief", went to Charles and he reportedly told her: "Be at peace, for I will shortly make thee a greater Queen than them".

When the new Pope granted Charles the Kingdom of Sicily, he had to defeat King Manfred, who had fallen out of papal favour. Another contender to win the throne of Sicily was Beatrice's nephew, Edmund Crouchback, but it soon became clear that Charles was the more promising candidate. In order to achieve his goal, Charles needed an army and Beatrice helped her husband raise one. She called on all her knights as well as the young men of France, and according to the later historian Angelo di Costanzo she pledged all her jewels, to make sure they joined her husband's army:

"Beatrice, to aid him (Charles) in the gratification of her ambition, sold all her jewels and personal ornaments, and expended her private treasure in collecting round her standard, not only her own vassals, but the chivalric youth of France, who were attracted to her service not less by her personal solicitations than by her rich gifts."

Charles went first to Rome, and Beatrice followed with the remaining army through the treacherous Alpine passes, during autumn. It took them nearly six weeks to reach Rome, but once both Charles and Beatrice were in Rome, they were crowned by the Pope King and Queen of Sicily, on 6 January 1266. As soon as the coronation festivities had ended, Beatrice stayed in Rome with a small force to hold the city, whilst Charles rode out to the battle of Benevento. After her husband's victory, she chose the castle of Melfi as their residence.

Issue[edit]

Charles and Beatrice had the following children:

Death[edit]

Beatrice died at Nocera Inferiore in 1267, a little over a year after becoming queen. The cause of her death was not recorded. She was initially buried at Nocera, but Charles later moved her body to Aix-en-Provence where she was laid to rest with her father.

Beatrice, like her sisters, mother and grandmother was known for her beauty. A description of Beatrice said she "set men's hearts thumping and the fingers of troubadours to fevered twanging of lyres. Two of the balladists at the Provencal court were temporarily deprived of reason for love of the entrancing Beatrice", and like her sister Sanchia, she would eventually become a queen before her death: Sanchia became 'Queen of the Romans' after the Earl of Cornwall was elected as King; Beatrice became Queen consort of Sicily, after that realm was bestowed upon Charles by the Pope.

Ancestry[edit]

Sources[edit]

Beatrice of Provence
Cadet branch of the Bellonids
Born: c. 1231 Died: 23 September 1267
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Ramon Berenguer IV
Countess of Provence and Forcalquier
19 August 1245 – 23 September 1267
with Charles I (1246–1267)
Succeeded by
Charles II
Royal titles
Preceded by
Helena Angelina Doukaina
Queen consort of Sicily
26 February 1266 – 23 September 1267
Succeeded by
Margaret of Burgundy