Berengaria – The Lionheart’s Queen

Berengaria – daughter of Sancho the Good.

Born in Navarre, chosen by Eleanor of Aquitaine, married in Cyprus, ignored in Palestine, and abandoned in Aquitaine.

The Queen of England who never set foot in her realm.

The story of the unfortunate bride of Richard the Lionheart, a new novel by Austin Hernon. At present in writing and something to look forward to.

Pyrenean kingdom of Navarra – A brief history.

The old kingdom of Navarra encompassed the modern autonomous community and extended north into the modern French département (department) of Basses-Pyrénées. It was known as the kingdom of Pamplona until the last half of the 12th century.

The city of Pamplona was occupied by the Muslims after 711, but the Basque magnates of the region early achieved some autonomy, and about the year 798 one of them, Iñigo Arista, established himself as an independent ruler there and for a time accepted Frankish suzerainty. By the time of Garcia Iñiguez (c. 860–880), this dynasty was strong enough to assume regal titles and to establish diplomatic and dynastic ties with the neighbouring Christian kingdom of Asturias.

Under Sancho I Garcés (905–925), the rulers of Pamplona expanded their dominions south of the Ebro River, capturing Nájera and much of La Rioja. Under Sancho III Garcés (1000–35), the Navarrese established a brief hegemony over all of Christian Spain. Sancho’s empire proved short-lived, however, for at his death the kingdom was divided up into Navarra, Aragon, and Castile.

In 1076 Sancho Ramírez of Aragon occupied Pamplona. Navarra was then ruled by the Aragonese crown until 1134, when it recovered its independence under Garcia IV, who reigned until 1150. A succession of French dynasties ruled Navarra after 1234.

Though Navarra at an early date ceased to have a frontier with the Muslims, many Muslims continued to live there. They were allowed to serve in the army and also provided an important source of skilled artisans. Large Jewish congregations, aljamas, existed in the chief towns and were protected by the Navarrese kings when persecution became serious elsewhere. Despite its small size in the later Middle Ages, Navarra played an important part in international politics, partly because it controlled the main pass into Spain in the western Pyrenees and was a buffer state between Gascony, Castile, and Aragon. The chief pilgrim roads from the north to Santiago de Compostela also traversed the kingdom.