A Royal Row

Henry III and Eleanor of Provence were married for 36 years until his death in 1272. There’s no evidence of infidelity on the part of either or of a relationship with someone prior to their wedding (he 28 at the time, she 12). Eleanor spent the 18 years of her widowhood in chaste and fond memory of her husband. But like all couples they had rows and one we can be sure of was the result of a quarrel between his brother Aymer, who was the bishop of Winchester, and her uncle Boniface, the archbishop of Canterbury. It was over a church appointment and it came to a head on this day of 3 November in 1252 when their men physically clashed. The archbishop excommunicated the bishop, who called his action ‘null, void and frivolous’. Henry ordered everyone at court to stay out of the unseemly affair, but apparently Eleanor didn’t and found herself under virtual house arrest at Guildford. She was released in time for Christmas court, hosted by Aymer in Winchester, and the customary exchange of gifts healed the rift for now. Henry and Eleanor certainly got over it. Within months she fell pregnant for the last time.

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