Many people will only remember a time when England had a single Queen. However, at the time of the first Magna Carta, 1215 onwards, there were several queens. Some of them had retired having lost their husbands but were still hanging about as surplus to the country’s needs. All of these figures feature in the novels Berengaria – Books I & II and Henry III – Book I.
Eleanor of Aquitaine
First amongst many was Eleanor of Aquitaine, the wife of the dead King Henry II. She was still acting as though she was the Queen to her son, King Richard, well into her sixties.
Berengaria of Navarre
The reigning Queen to Richard was Princess Berengaria of Navarre. The Lionheart married her in Cyprus on the way to the third crusade in 1191. Then, when Richard died in 1199, he left England with three dowager queens.
Isabella of Angouleme
Upon Richard’s death, John became King as Richard and Berengaria’s marriage was childless. John’s second wife Isabella of Angouleme became Queen in 1200. John had eloped with Isabella before they finally married.
When John died in 1216, Isabella thought that she would take charge of her son Henry’s development. However, the barons of England thought differently and took charge of governing. In response, she sped off in a huff and married Hugh de Luisignan, the son of the man she had been betrothed to before marrying John.
Henry III, crowned King of England aged nine in 1216, was not to marry until he was twenty six. As a result there were several years when he did not have a Queen but the two previous Queens were all still alive.
At the time many people were wondering whether Isabella would return as Queen Mother. However, she quickly put herself out of the running by starting a family with her new husband. She would go on to have nine children with him.
At the same time, Berengaria was living in Maine County in France and there was a question of whether she would make a spectacular comeback to England. She would certainly have an involvement with the mess surrounding the Magna Carta – you can read about this in the Wars of the Magna Carta series. She would also meet young King Henry, although this may have been only to reclaim the lands which her feckless brother-by-law, John had stolen from her.
Read the stories
The full story of England’s time when it had a surfeit of queens can be read in the forthcoming novels by Austin Hernon:
These books are due out in 2021 – So watch for them on Amazon.
More information is also available here: www.history-reimagined.co.uk