Berengaria of Navarre (1164-1230)
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Berengaria of Navarre (1164-1230)

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After they were married, Berengaria and Richard did not spend much time together. There were times when force of circumstances gave them no choice in the matter, but there were times also when it is clear that Richard preferred to do without her.
John Gillingham, The Life and Times of Richard I, 1973.

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Berengaria of Navarre (1164-1230)

Richard I met Berengaria of Navarre, daughter of Sancho the Wise at a tournament as a boy in Pampeluna. Once he became King, Richard packed his bethrothed Alice of France (his father's mistress) off to imprisonment in Winchester Castle and sent his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, to get Berengaria's agreement to a marriage and to bring her back to England.

The arrangement was that his mother would accompany her to meet Richard on his way to the Holy Land for the Third Crusade. Richard dithered about the marriage until his mother lost patience and commanded him to marry Berengaria so he finally did so in Limassol in Cyprus on his way to the Crusade in 1190. Berengaria followed him out to the Holy Land but was left in France during his adventures on his way back to England.

Berengaria next saw Richard after he had become seriously ill in France and asked her to help nurse him to recovery. They then spent Christmas of 1198 together and she trailed round after him on his campaign in France, but was with him when he was fatally injured and died the next year. After a further series of tragic deaths to those close to her, Berengaria retired to Le Mans where she lived in comparative poverty, as King John was unwilling to provide for her unless pressed. When John died in 1216, Henry III paid the backlog, which amounted to thousands of pounds and looked after her thereafter. Berengaria founded an abbey at L'Epau, where she died and was buried in 1230 at the advanced age, for those days, of sixty five. She never had any children and although Richard had at least one bastard, he was rumoured to have been homosexual. Berengaria had never set foot in England and was never crowned.


All things considered, Berengaria was hardly the wife for Richard the Lion Heart.
- Philip Henderson, Richard Coeur-de-Lion, 1959. Advanced Category Search

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