The first Eleanor


The youngest of John’s children, Eleanor (1215 – 1275) had all the beauty of her mother Isabella of Angoulême. Only 16 at the time of her husband’s death, she would have made a splendid catch for any number of monarchs in Europe. But Eleanor was headstrong and emotional, and not only insisted on taking the veil but doing so in front of the archbishop of Canterbury. Thereafter, she retired to a little court of her own, supported by a dower income from her late husband’s estate, arranged by her guardian brother Henry in such a bungled manner that it would be the source of political recriminations for years to come.

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