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BLOSS C.A. Heroines of the Crusades

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BLOSS C.A.
Heroines of the Crusades
page 266



Augustus despatched into Spain, to bring.home the fair Blanche of Castile, the bride of his son Prince Louis. During his absence the parents of Isabella sent messengers to the castle of Valence, to request their daughter's pres-ence on the occasion of a high festival in Angoulême. The beautiful fiancée of Count Hugh was required to recog-nize King John of England, as the sovereign of Aquitaine, and feudal lord of the province of Angonmois. Dressed in a simple robe of white, with her hair parted à la vierge upon the brow, and confined only by the golden coronet designating her rank, she advanced with a timid step through the assembly, and kneeling at the feet of the king, placed her tiny hands in his, while with a trembling voice she pronounced the oath of homage. The first peep which the fair child gained of the great world in this bril-liant assembly, where she was made to act so conspicuous a part, intoxicated her youthful imagination ; and the ef-fect of her artless simplicity on the heart of the dissolute monarch, already sated with the adulation of court beau-ties, was such as one feels in turning from a crowded vase of gaudy exotics, to contemplate the sweetness of the native violet. Hence was it that Isabella, though scarcely fifteen, entered into all the schemes of her parents, for preventing her return to the castle of her betrothed, and without op-position, gave her hand to a man who had been for ten years engaged in an ineffectual struggle against the canons of the church, for the possession of his beautiful cousin, Avisa, whom he had married on the day of Eichard's corona-tion. Now smitten with the charms of Isabella, John sub-mitted at once to his spiritual fathers, and the archbishop of Bordeaux having convoked a synod to consider the mat-ter with the assent of the bishops of Poitou, declared that no impediment existed to their marriage. The nuptials were, therefore, celebrated at Bordeaux, in August, 1200. Enraged at the loss of his bride, on his return from Castile, the valiant Count Hugh challenged the royal felon to mortal combat ; but the worthless king despising the re-sentment of the outraged lover, sailed with Isabella in 278 HEROINES OF THE CRUSADES.


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