Berengaria of Navarre

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Berengaria of Navarre (Spanish: Berenguela, French: Bérengère; c. 1165–1170 – 23 December 1230) was Queen of the English as the wife of King Richard I of England. She was the eldest daughter of King Sancho VI of Navarre and Sancha of Castile.



Berengaria married Richard I of England on 12 May 1191 and was crowned the same day by the Archbishop of Bordeaux and Bishops of Evreux and Bayonne. As is the case with many of the medieval queens consort of the Kingdom of England, relatively little is known of her life. It seems that she and Richard did in fact meet once, years before their marriage, and writers have claimed that there was an attraction between them at that time. Prior to his marriage, Richard had been betrothed for many years to Princess Alys, sister of King Philip II of France. Richard terminated his betrothal to Alys in 1190 while at Messina. It has been suggested that Alys had become the mistress of Richard's own father, King Henry II, and possibly the mother of an illegitimate child; a marriage between Richard and Alys would therefore be technically impossible for religious reasons of affinity.

He had Berengaria brought to him by his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Since Richard was already on the Third Crusade, having wasted no time in setting off after his coronation, the two women had a long and difficult journey to catch up with him. They arrived at Messina in Sicily during Lent (when the marriage could not take place) in 1191 and were joined by Richard's sister Joan, the widowed Queen of Sicily. En route to the Holy Land, the ship carrying Berengaria and Joan went aground off the coast of Cyprus, and they were threatened by the island's ruler, Isaac Comnenus. Richard came to their rescue, captured the island, overthrew Comnenus, and married Berengaria in the Chapel of St. George at Limassol.

Queen consort

Whether the marriage was ever even consummated is a matter for conjecture. In any case, Richard certainly took his new wife with him for the first part of the crusade. They returned separately, but Richard was captured and imprisoned. Berengaria remained in Europe, attempting to raise money for his ransom. After his release, Richard returned to England and was not joined by his wife.

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