Berengaria (DNB00)

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BERENGARIA (d. after 1230), queen of Richard I, was the daughter of Sancho VI of Navarre, and his queen Blanche of Castile. Remarkable for wisdom, beautiful in person, and of elegant manners, she had won the heart of Richard when he was count of Poitou (Itin. Ricardi, 176; Will. Newb. c. 19). Soon after he came to the throne he sent his mother, Eleanor, to bring her to him at Messina, whither he had gone on his way to the crusade, that he might make her his wife. Eleanor and Berengaria crossed into Italy by the Great St. Bernard, and in February 1191 came down to Naples, where they found ships sent by Richard to meet them. A large escort accompanied the ladies, and the servants of Tancred of Sicily forbade them to enter Messina (Benedict, ii. 157). They accordingly went on to Brindisi. While they were there, Richard had a dispute with Philip of France about the intended marriage, for he had long been under a contract to marry the French king's sister Alice. Philip demanded that Richard should sail with him at once, and then he said he might marry Berengaria at Acre; if not, then he should marry his sister. Richard said that he would not do either the one or the other (Rigord, 32). The story that he declared that Berengaria was already his wife (Guil. Armor. iv. 182) is manifestly untrue. After the dispute had been arranged, Richard went to Reggio, and brought his mother and Berengaria to Messina on 30 March, the very day Philip left. When Richard set sail from Messina on 10 April, he sent Berengaria and his sister Joanna, the widowed queen of Sicily, in advance of the fleet in a strongly built vessel called a dromond, or buss, under the charge of Robert of Tornham. A violent storm scattered the fleet. The king landed at Crete, and then at Rhodes, while the ship in which the ladies were came to anchor off Limasol on 1 May. Isaac, the emperor of Cyprus, tried to entice the ladies ashore, but they seem to have known the cruelty with which the Cypriots had treated the crews of the ships that had been wrecked, and refused to listen to his invitation. At last, on 6 May, they promised to disembark the next day. Scarcely had they made this promise, when Richard's ship came in sight. The next day the defeat of the Cypriots enabled Berengaria to enter Limasol. On 12 May she was married to Richard by his chaplain Nicolas, afterwards bishop of Le Mans, and on the same day was crowned queen by the Archbishop of Bordeaux and the Bishops of Evreux and Bayonne. When Richard completed the conquest of Cyprus, and forced the emperor to surrender on 31 May, he committed Isaac's daughter to the queen's care, that she might bring her up. On 1 June Berengaria, Joanna, and their suite sailed from Cyprus for Acre, and the king, who set out a few days later, joined them there on 8 June, When the city surrendered, it was parted between Richard and Philip, and as the palace happened to be in the share that fell to Richard, he lodged his queen, his sister, and Isaac's daughter there. When on 21 Aug. Richard marched southwards, Berengaria was left at Acre under the care of Stephen of Longchamp and Bertram of Verdun. She and the other ladies remained in Palestine until the return of Richard to Acre in September 1192. They then embarked on Michaelmas day, and, more fortunate than the king, arrived safely at Sicily (Diceto, 668; Will. Newb. c. 31). Thence they went to Rome, where they were honourably received by Celestine III. At Rome they stayed for six months, for they were glad of the pope's protection against the emperor. When they left, Celestine gave them in charge to a cardinal, who conducted them by Pisa and Genoa to Marseilles There they were met by Alfonso II of Aragon, who took them as far as the borders of his kingdom, Raymond of St. Gilles, count of Toulouse, next took charge of them, and conducted them to Poitou (Hoveden, iii. 228). Richard did not join his wife for some time after his release. He seems to have fallen into an uncleanly life, for in 1195 he was sharply reproved by a hermit, who warned him 'Esto memor subversionis Sodomæ, &c.' (Hoveden, iii. 288). After a severe illness he declared that he would take Berengaria back to him again, for he had not lived with her for some years, not probably since they parted at Acre. They doubtless met at Poitiers at Christmas 1195. It is possible that she may have been with the king when he received his death-wound (Hemingburgh, i. 228, implies that this was so, but his account of Richard's death is late and inaccurate). After Richard's death she lived much at Le Mans, for she had received that city and the county of Bigorre as her dower. John cheated her of her jointure. In 1201 she went to Chinon to meet him, and he there promised her Bayeux,two castles in Anjou, and 1,000 marks a year (Hoveden, iv. 173; Rymer, i. 40). He did not keep his word, and in January 1204 Innocent III wrote to him saying that her poverty forced her to live like a beggar with her sister Blanche, countess of Champagne (Recueil, xix. 447). Another urgent letter was written by the pope on the same subject in 1207 (Rymer, i. 143); and another demand was made in 1213 (Ann. Wav. 278), when John made his submission. Finally in 1215 a composition was made of which the pope approved {Recueil xix. 607). The king's death prevented the payment of the arrears. Early in the reign of Henry III she claimed 4,040l. The Templars became her agents, and secured her from further loss. She lived at Le Mans as countess, for on 23 Aug. 1216 she presided over a trial by combat (L'Art de Vérifier, xiii. 102). In 1226 she inherited a share in the estate of her distant kinsman William, bishop of Chalons (Alberic Trium Fontium, Recueil, xviii. 796). She founded the Cistercian monastery called 'Pietas Dei' at Espan in Maine in 1230. She died soon after, and was buried in the church she had built.

[Itinerarium Regis Ricaidi, Memorials of Richard I, vol. i. (Rolls Ser.); Roger of Hoveden, iii. (Rolls Ser.); Walter of Coventry (Rolls Ser.); William of Newburgh (Eng. Hist Soc.); Hemingburgh (Eng. Hist. Soc.); R. Diceto (Twysden); Annales de Waverleia in Ann. Monast. ii. (Rolls Ser.); Rigord, de Gestis Philippi Augusti, Guillelmi Britonis-Armorici Philippidos, both in Recueil des Historiens, xvii.; Rymer's Fœdera, ed. 1704; Miss Strickland's Lives of the Queens of England, vol. i. where an account is given of Berengaria's tomb at Espan.]

W. H.