Blanche of Navarre, Countess of Champagne
|Blanche of Navarre, Countess of Champagne|
Blanche of Navarre, Countess of Champagne
|Spouse(s)||Theobald III of Champagne|
|Noble family||House of Jiménez|
|Father||Sancho VI of Navarre|
|Mother||Sancha of Castile|
|Died||23 March 1229|
She was the youngest daughter of Sancho VI of Navarre (d. 1194) and Sancha of Castile, who died in 1179, about two years after Blanche's birth. Her maternal grandparents were Alfonso VII of Castile and Berenguela of Barcelona. Her eldest brother, Sancho VII of Navarre, succeeded their father as King of Navarre and was the last male descendant of the first dynasty of Kings of Navarre, the Pamplona dynasty, dying childless. Her brother, Ramiro of Navarre, was Bishop of Pamplona and her elder sister, Berengaria of Navarre, married Richard I of England and Aquitaine, the northern neighbour of their kingdom.
Blanche married Count Theobald III of Champagne on July 1, 1199 at Chartres, when she was 22 years old and he was 20 years old. However, Theobald III died young on May 24, 1201, leaving her pregnant. When she gave birth to a son (on May 30, 1201), he immediately became Count Theobald IV of Champagne (1201–53). Blanche ruled the county as regent until Theobald turned 21 years old in 1222. The regency was plagued by a number of difficulties. Blanche's brother-in-law, count Henry II had left behind a great deal of debt, which had not been paid off when Theobald III died.
Furthermore, their son Theobald IV's right to the succession of Champagne was challenged by Henry's daughter Philippa and her husband, Erard I of Brienne, Count of Ramerupt and one of the more powerful Champagne nobles. The conflict with the Briennes broke into open warfare in 1215, in what became known as the Champagne War of Succession, and was not resolved until after Theobald came of age in 1222. At that time Theobald and Blanche bought out their rights for a substantial monetary payment. Blanche had also arranged the dowry of Henry II's elder daughter Alice of Champagne, when she married the young Hugh I of Cyprus. In the 1230s, in order to settle with Alice, Theobald IV had to sell his overlordship over the counties of Blois, Sancerre, and Châteaudun to Louis IX of France.
With her regency completed, in 1222 Blanche withdrew to the Cistercian convent of Argensolles, whose foundation she had funded herself, for her retirement.
Since some barons suspected Theobald for having a hand in the death of Louis VIII (in November 1226), Blanche of Castile withdrew his invitation to the coronation of Louis IX and proffered it to Blanche instead.
Blanche died on March 13, 1229, seven years after the end of her regency, at the age of 52.
After Blanche's death, her brother in retirement remained as King of Navarre and her son Theobald continued as Count of Champagne. Their eldest sister, Berengaria of Navarre, Queen of England (widow of Richard the Lionheart), died without issue in 1232, leaving Sancho as the sole surviving child of Sancho VI. When he died in 1234, Blanca's son Theobald IV of Champagne was recognized as the next King of Navarre. Theobald had married twice during Blanche's lifetime and had one daughter by the time of her death, who was also named Blanche. However, he later had children by his third wife including Theobald II of Navarre and Henry I of Navarre, who became kings of Navarre.
Blanche had two children with Count Theobald III of Champagne:
- Marie – Blanch is noted as having borne an older daughter named Marie to Theobald III before his death in May 1201 during her second pregnancy. References to this Marie in documentation are scant, but as Blanche was married in July 1199, Marie would have been under two years old at the time of her father's death. One of the conditions of Blanche's treaty with King Philip II confirming her son's inheritance was that Marie had to be sent away to be raised in the royal court at Paris.
- Theobald IV – Born a week after his father's death, immediately inheriting the title of Count Palatine of Champagne, and later in 1234, King of Navarre.
- Abulafia, p. 284
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Blanca of Navarra (1177–1229).|
- Abulafia, David. The New Cambridge Medieval History: c. 1198-c. 1300, 1999.
- Royal Genealogies Website (ROYAL92.GED), online ftp://ftp.cac.psu.edu/genealogy/public_html/royal/index.html. Hereinafter cited as Royal Genealogies Website.
- Evergates, Theodore. The Aristocracy in the County of Champagne, 1100–1300. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press: 2007.