Berengaria of Navarre, Queen consort of England

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Berenguela de Navarra, Reina consorte de Inglaterra

Lithuanian: Berengarija Navarietė, Anglijos Karalienė
Birthdate: (63)
Birthplace: Pampeluna, Navarra, Spain
Death: December 23, 1230 (59-67)
Abbey de Espans, Sarthe, France
Place of Burial: Abbey de Espans, Sarthe, France
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Sancho VI el Sabio, rey de Navarra and Sancha, Reina consorte de Navarra
Wife of Richard "the Lionheart", king of England
Sister of Sancho VII el Fuerte, rey de Navarra; Fernando, infante de Navarra; Constanza, infanta de Navarra; Blanche de Navarre, comtesse consort de Champagne and Sancho III rey de Castilla

Occupation: Queen consort of England, Queen of England (without ever visited England)
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Berengaria of Navarre, Queen consort of England

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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 of the time liked to claim that there was an attraction between them at that time. Richard had been betrothed many years earlier to Princess Alys, sister of King Philip II of France. Alys, however, may have been the mistress of Richard's own father, King Henry II, and some said the mother of Henry's illegitimate child; a marriage between Richard and Alys would therefore be technically impossible for religious reasons of affinity. Richard terminated his betrothal to Alys in 1190 while at Messina.

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 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. The marriage was childless, and Berengaria was thought to be barren.

When Richard returned to England, he had to regain all the territory that had either been lost by his brother John or taken by King Philip of France. His focus was on his kingdom, not his queen. Richard was ordered by Pope Celestine III to reunite with Berengaria and to show fidelity to her in future. Richard obeyed and took Berengaria to church every week thereafter. When he died in 1199, she was greatly distressed, perhaps more so at being deliberately overlooked as Queen of England and Cyprus. Some historians believe that Berengaria honestly loved her husband, while Richard's feelings for her were merely formal, as the marriage was a political rather than a romantic union.

Queen dowager

Berengaria never visited England during King Richard's lifetime; during the entirety of their marriage, Richard spent less than six months in England. There is evidence, however, that she may have done so in the years following his death. The traditional description of her as "the only English queen never to set foot in the country" would still be literally true, as she did not visit England during the time she was Richard's consort. She certainly sent envoys to England several times, mainly to inquire about the pension she was due as dowager queen and Richard's widow, which King John failed to pay. Although Queen Eleanor intervened and Pope Innocent III threatened him with an interdict if he did not pay Berengaria what was due, King John still owed her more than £4000 when he died. During the reign of his son Henry III of England, however, her payments were made as they were supposed to be.

Berengaria eventually settled in Le Mans, one of her dower properties. She was a benefactress of the abbey of L'Epau, entered the conventual life, and was buried in the abbey. A skeleton thought to be hers was discovered in 1960 during the restoration of the abbey.

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Berengaria of Navarre, Queen consort of England's Timeline

Pampeluna, Navarra, Spain
December 23, 1230
Age 63
Abbey de Espans, Sarthe, France
Age 63
Abbey de Espans, Sarthe, France