Royal wedding and firestorm

On 7 January 1238 Henry III gave his youngest sister Eleanor in marriage to Simon de Montfort. Rarely has a royal wedding created a firestorm as this one did, and rightly so. The twenty-three-year old Eleanor had taken a vow of celibacy after her first husband William Marshal II died nearly seven years earlier. If she was going to break that vow to marry anyone, it should be to create a useful foreign alliance, as what happened to her two older sisters (both of whom died early, lonely deaths). Instead Henry gives her to a thirty-year-old foreign upstart at court, a man who had already been rebuffed by two other highly-stationed if much older widows. Simon was clearly looking to marry well, while Eleanor, it was reported, desired to be a mother. Henry would later accuse Montfort of seducing his sister and so had forced his hand. Indeed, the ceremony was performed in secret, in the king’s private chapel, because he knew he would catch hell once the match became known, and that’s exactly what he got. It was seen as the most blatant example yet of the king squandering the wealth of the realm on aliens. A lot of money was needed to smooth things over, but the fury never really went away and nothing is more telling of Henry’s nature than his holding a grudge against people who cause him problems.

Temptation
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