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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 139



Eleanora of Castile, the first consort of our first Edward, was the only daughter of Ferdinand the Third, King' of Castile and Leon, and Joanna, Countess of Ponthieu—that lady with whom Π enry the Third had so heartlessly broken his marriage engagement. Ponthieu and Aumerle descended to the Countess Joanna from her mother, Alice of France, whose betrothmentwith the lion-hearted King, Kichard the First, led to an European war. The marriage preliminaries being settled, Prince Edward, accompanied by his mother, the Queen of England, set out from Bourdeaux, crossed the Pyrenees, and reaching Purges in safety, was married to the Infanta, Eleanora, with great pomp and rejoicing, in August, 1254, At the period of their marriage, the heir of England was just fifteen, and his girlish bride about three years younger. Tbe marriage festival was graced by the leading nobles of Spain, and King Alphonso celebrated the occasion by giving a tournament, at which he knighted Prince Edward. The marriage rejoicings ended, Edward, accompanied by his bride and his mother, returned to Bourdeaux, where King Henry received them with joyous feastings and pageantry, and settled on his heir Gascony, Ireland, "Wales, and the towns of Bristol, Stamford, and Grantham. From Bourdeaux the young Donna Eleanora was conducted by her husband and the other members of the royal family of England through France, on their route to Britain. At Paris, King Henry the Third presided at the " feast of kings," mentioned in the preceding memoirs. On this and the other festivals which he gave in honour of the marriage of his daughtei-in-law, Eleanora, he expended the enormous sum of three hundred thousand marks, which so annoyed his English nobles, that one of them censured his prodigality, when he answered with a penitent voice : " Oh, for the head of God ! say no more of it, lest the very relation thereof should make men stand amazed, and curse the hour that gave birth to royalty !" On landing in England, Eleanora was welcomed with great feasting and rejoicing. The most magnificent of these banquets was given by King Henry's secretary, John Manscl, to the royal families of England and Scotland, whose noble retinues were so numerous, that John Mansel'a house, at Tothill Fields, Westminster, was crowded with royal and distinguished persouages, whilst hundreds were lodgedin tents and booths erected for the occasion. Edward, by the sanction of his father, dowered his bride with the towns of Stamford and Grantham, the castle and village of Tickhill, and the village of Peak, with an understanding that the dower should be proportionately increased when she became Queen. For several years subsequent to her marriage, we find no important notice of Eleanora of Castile. Probably she spent much of her time with her mothcr-inlaw, Eleanora of Provence ; although she appears to have had a private residence, as, shortly after her marriage, Henry the Third ordered apartments to be fitted up for her in the castle of Guildford, with glass windows, a dais, a chimney, a wardrobe, and an adjoining oriel. In 1260, Eleanora accompanied her lord, Prince Edward, when he proceeded, along with John of Brittany and other illustrious nobles, to display his chivalric skill at a tournament, hem at Paris, in honour of tho nuptials of the French King's youngest son, Robert of Artois, with Amicìa De Courtcnay. Whilst tilting at this tournament Prince Edward heard of the violent dissensions which had burst forth between his father and the English barons ; and believing that his presence might possibly avert a civil war, he and his faithful consort hastily recrossed the channel, in the spring of 1261. On reaching England, Eleanora of Castile took up her residence with her mother-in-law, the English Queen, at Windsor Castle, which Prince Edward had strongly garrisoned with foreign troops, and where, a few weeks after her arrival—the precise date is not known—she was delivered of her eldest-born—a Princess— christened after herself, Eleanora. κ


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