Richard 1

Chasing Richard the Lionheart – Eleanor of Aquitaine

When Eleanor went to collect Berengaria from Navarre, her intention was to meet up with Richard and his fleet at Marseilles – purpose, a marriage between the Basque princess and Eleanor’s favourite son Richard, the King of England.

Unfortunately when they got to Marseilles Richard had left already. As a result they spent some time chasing along the Mediterranean coast trying to catch up with him. Richard was high-tailing it down to Sicily, where his sister, Queen Joan was in some bother after her philandering husband had died leaving her in the hands of a grotesque usurper named Tancredi.

Eleanor and Berengaria had many an adventure along the way. For instance they had a diversion to Lodi to meet a papal legate. Here they became enmeshed in pan-European politics as the church and the Holy Roman Emperor designate engaged in some power play maneuvering.

As Eleanor was probably the most powerful woman in northern Europe at the time, and Berengaria was trying to marry the most powerful king, the Pope needed them on his side. What was to transpire in Lodi?

The answer lies in the book, to be published soon.

The women eventually caught Richard in the Straits of Messina, where Richard’s sister Joan made an appearance – rescued! But is she still the queen of Sicily?

The map below is the long route they would have taken.

 

Below is an English ship of the period of the first crusade – but have they altered over the years?

We will return to our naval theme in a later post.