All in the family

1254
Henry III and Louis IX
Henry III and Louis IX

Modern historians tend to side with Henry in this affair, suggesting he had every reason to believe Alfonso was planning to invade. The king of Castile did in fact impose his terms on Henry, who in addition to providing a royal marriage, promised to join him in a war against the Moors. As with his crusading vow, Henry had no intention of fighting infidels anywhere. He was more concerned with installing Edward peacefully in Gascony before proceeding, with his wife and entourage, to Chartres for his first meeting ever with Louis, who was finally back from his miserable experience overseas. The occasion would be renowned for one of the most unique family reunions in history. Queen Eleanor, her sister Margaret, the queen of France, and their sister Sanchia, Richard’s wife, were joined by their youngest sister, Beatrice, who was the wife of Louis’ brother Charles of Anjou. Four sisters had married two sets of brothers, leading Louis to remark, perhaps innocently enough, that the children of each family would be more like brothers and sisters than cousins.

3 thoughts on “All in the family

  1. On his way to Paris, Henry stopped off at Fontevrault, where his grandparents Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine were interred inside the abbey. He found it disgraceful that his mother Isabella had been buried in the cemetery and ordered her remains moved to alongside theirs. Perhaps too conscious of Louis’ reputation as a saint, Henry put his piety on full display in Paris by kissing lepers and throwing an elaborate feast for the poor.

  2. Louis needed cheering up. His voyage home was marked by the same calamities that dogged him throughout his crusade. The ship caught fire, ran aground near Cyprus, and lost precious time after some of his men, sent ashore near Tunisia in search of nourishment, became actual lotus-eaters as they gorged on fruit and forgot all about the others.

  3. Ahead of the king’s return, London was ordered to receive Sancho, the bishop of Toledo and Edward’s new brother-in-law, with great pomp and ceremony. The people didn’t know what to make of so young a churchman, barely twenty years old, or all the mules in his train, and heaped scorn and insults on him. One oddity they did admire was the gift of an elephant Louis made to Henry, reportedly the first ever seen across the channel.

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