The Crusader's Bride: The Life of Berengaria of Navarre, Queen of England

This was a Jeapordy question. Gareth Russell present us with a short biography of the only queen of England never to have set foot in England...

...We have no way of knowing when Princess Berengaria was born into Navarre's first family - she was named after her grandmother, Berengaria of Barcelona. Records are frustratingly vague and there is a five year margin of guesswork, between 1165 and 1170. Her father, Sancho the Wise, had ruled Navarre since succeeding to the throne in 1150, at the age of eighteen. He was a tenacious defender of Navarre's independence from the neighbouring kingdoms of Aragon and Castile. A patron of the arts, particularly architecture, he was also a talented diplomat who had not only outwitted the expansionist designs of Aragon and Castile, but also established friendly relations with Henry II's England - then, unquestionably, the dominant political force in western Europe. Henry II had an empire that stretched from the Pennines to the Pyrenees; his inheritance from his father had given him huge tracts of land in northern France; his marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine meant that he had de facto control of Navarre's closest neighbour and, around the time Berengaria was born, Ireland had fallen to Henry's seemingly-unstoppable taste for glory. It was therefore a very good idea to keep the English on-side in the 1170s and this policy of her father's would later shape Berengaria's entire adult life...more...


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