Pioneering queen

Eleanor of Provence

Celebrating the life of Eleanor of Provence (1223-91) this International Women’s Day, the first woman in post-Conquest England to be named regent. On 3 July 1253, her husband Henry III declared in the patent rolls, “Mandate to all justices, sheriffs, constables and other bailiffs of England, Wales and Ireland to be intendant to Queen Eleanor during the king’s absence in Gascony, and if the lot of humanity befalls the king in Gascony, to deliver the castles, lands and bailiwicks in their keeping to the said queen for her to keep to the use of Edward the king’s son during his minority.” Eleanor was pregnant at the time, gave birth in November, and in January attended parliament as the first woman head of state to do so. Later in spring, she summoned another parliament, this one the first ever where local representatives were elected.

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