Politics and vineyards

Following the Anglo-French peace treaty of 1259, the wine-growing region of Bergerac was much disputed. As the newly created duke of Aquitaine, King Henry III claimed the castle for the duchy of Gascony, but the regional lord and his wife refused to vacate. In 1263 they all agreed to let Margaret of Provence, the queen of France, decide ownership. She came out against her brother-in-law Henry, but by that time he had his hands full with Simon de Montfort and his incorrigible crowd. When Simon triumphed, Henry’s wife Eleanor of Provence went to Gascony to rule as the duchess of Aquitaine and use it as a base of operations against the Montfortians. Her first act, however much she disagreed with it, was to accept her sister’s verdict. The loss of Bergerac was a blow. No king of England loved wine as much as Henry III. One of the last orders from his deathbed in 1272 was to pay off his wine merchant, to the tune of 1 million pounds in today’s money.

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