Beatrice of England
|Beatrice of England|
|Countess of Richmond|
|Born||24 June 1242|
|Died||24 March 1275 (aged 32)|
Grey Friars Church, London
John II, Duke of Brittany (m. 1260)
|Issue||Arthur II, Duke of Brittany|
John, 1st Earl of Richmond
Marie, Countess of Saint Pol
Peter, Viscount of Leon
Blanche, Countess of Artois
Eleanor of Brittany, Abbess of Fontevrault
|Father||Henry III, King of England|
|Mother||Eleanor of Provence|
Beatrice was 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 four.
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
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. On 22 January 1260, when she was seventeen, she married John de Dreux, heir to the duchy of Brittany. She and John II had six children:
- Arthur II, Duke of Brittany (1261–1312)
- John of Brittany, Earl of Richmond (1266–1334)
- Marie of Brittany, Countess of Saint-Pol, wife of Guy III of Châtillon (1268–1339)
- Pierre, Viscount de Leon (1269–1312)
- Blanche of Brittany, wife of Philip of Artois (1271–1327)
- Eleanor of Brittany, Abbess of Fontevrault (1275–1342)
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. Her husband succeeded as duke 11 years after her death, therefore Beatrice was never styled Duchess of Brittany.
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.
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.
|Ancestors of Beatrice of England|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Beatrice of England.|
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- Reeves and Turner, 1914. 138.
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