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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ. Queens of England. Vol.1.

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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ.
Queens of England. Vol.1.
page 98



o8 BERENGARIA OF NAVARRE, proceeded to Rouen, where she witnessed the death of her daughter, Queen Joanna. It appears that the end of Joanna was hastened by grief for the misfortunes of her husband, Karl Raymond of Toulouse, who was bitterly persecuted by the clergy for affording protection to the sect of the Albigcnses, and by the unexpected loss of her brother, Richard the First. She died in September, 11.99, and was interred at the feet of her illustrious sire, Henry the Second, in the abbey of Fontevraud. From this period Eleanora of Aquitaine did not return to England again. Her base-hearted son, King John, much to his credit be it spoken, confirmed to her her continental dominions, which she governed greatly to the satisfaction of her subjects. She also appears to have held the Isle of Oleron,* for in 1200 she confirmed the liberties and ancient customs of Oleron by charter, which was also ratified by John. In the year following, she, after having brought about a reconciliation between King John and Philip of France, undertook her last journey to arrange the marriage of her grand-daughter, Blanche of Castile, to Prince Louis, the heir to the French crown. This mission successfully accomplished, she, fearing no danger, retired to her weakly-fortified summer castle of Mirabel, in Poitou, when her youthful grandson, Arthur, Duke of Brittany, who, instigated by Philip, was endeavouring to assert his right to the English crown by force of arms, suddenly laid siege to the castle, which being in an indefensive condition, the Queen retired to the tower, where she nobly resisted the besiegers. For once in his life John acted with promptitude, energy, and bravery. Quitting the couch of indolence, he hastened to the relief of his mother with powerful forces, and his arrival was so sudden and unexpected, and his onslaught so * Atthis period,the sea ports on the Baltic traded with France and England, and with the Mediterranean, by the staple of the Isle of Uleron, near the mouth of the Garonne, then possessed by the English. The commercial laws of uleron and Wisburg—on the Baltic—regulated for many ages the trade of Europe, fierce and terrible, that he completely routed the besiegers, and either slew or took prisoners most of the rebel nobles and knights. Amongst the prisoners was the hapless Arthur, who shortly afterwards was murdered either by the orders, or by the hands of his base uncle, John. In 1202, Eleanora of Aquitaine entered the convent of Fontevraud, where she died in March, 1204, and was interred by the side of Henry the Second. A beautiful tomb was erected to her memory, which was preserved in excellent condition till the French Revolution, when, in 1793, it was overturned by the fanatic republicans. There is little doubt that general tradition has grossly tarnished the character of Eleanora by misrepresentations. For gay, giddy, and volatile, as in youth she certainly was, her character so greatly improved with age, that before the withering breath of time had blighted the bloom of her womanhood, she became, if not a mirror of perfection, at least a truly virtuous and noble-minded princess. Already has the idle story of her having offered the murderous alternativo of the dagger or the poison cup to her rival, the Fair Rosamond, been expunged from the pages of history, and probably the other three gross, but illfounded charges against her memory, will, ere long, share the like fate. Tho first of these charges, her misconduct in the Holy Land, rests on very doubtful authority, and has all tho appearance of improbability. The second, that of inciting her sons to revolt against their sire, although not savouring of ultrachristian meekness, is just the treatment her selfish, tyrannical, neglectful, and inconstant royal Lord Henry might expect from his high-minded, spirited consort ; and, indeed, if we are not mistaken, many a fair lady of the nineteenth century would declare he most richly deserved it. For what right had he to expect domestic happiness from the woman who, in her heart-doating confidence, had freely resigned him all her princely possessions, only to too soon learn the bitter truth that it was for her wealth, and her wealth alone, that he


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