Blanche of Castile (Blanca de Castilla in Spanish; 4 March 1188 – 26 November 1252), wife of Louis VIII of France.
She was born in Palencia, Spain, the third daughter of Alfonso VIII, king of Castile, and of Eleanor of England. Eleanor was a daughter of Henry II of England and his Queen consort Eleanor of Aquitaine.
In consequence of a dangerous treaty between Philip Augustus and John of England, Blanche's sister Urraca was betrothed to the former's son, Louis. Their grandmother Eleanor, upon getting acquainted with the two sisters, judged that Blanche's personality was more fit for a queen of France. In the spring of 1200 she brought her to France instead.
On 22 May 1200 the treaty was finally signed, John ceding with his niece the fiefs of Issoudun and Graçay, together with those that André de Chauvigny, lord of Châteauroux, held in Berry, of the English crown. The marriage was celebrated the next day, at Portmort on the right bank of the Seine, in John's domains, as those of Philip lay under an interdict.
During the English baron's rebellion 1215-16 against King John, it was Blanche's English ancestry as granddaughter to Henry II that led to Louis being offered the throne of England as Louis I. However, with the death of John in October 1216, the barons changed their allegiance to John's son, the nine-year-old Henry.
Louis continued to claim the English crown in her right, only to find a united nation against him. Philip Augustus refused to help his son, and Blanche was his sole support. The queen established herself at Calais and organized two fleets, one of which was commanded by Eustace the Monk, and an army under Robert of Courtenay; but all her resolution and energy were in vain. With French forces defeated at Lincoln in May 1217 and then routed on their way back to their London stronghold, Louis desperately needed the reinforcements from France. On 24 August, the English fleet destroyed the French fleet carrying those reinforcements off Sandwich and Louis was forced to sue for peace.
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