Reblogged from Medieval Wanderings:
A royal wedding in medieval times was all about sealing alliances and striking political deals, so emotional entanglements didn’t usually enter the equation. Consequently, it was common for husbands in royal and elite circles to play the field, often enjoying a string of dalliances or even find lasting extra-marital love. But occasionally there was a true success story, and in 1254 a diplomatic marriage between two teenagers began a lifelong devotion between one of our most powerful warrior kings and his Spanish queen that has left its mark on our landscape to this day.
It started with a squabble over Gascony, England’s last remnant of its former Angevin lands. A new and ambitious Spanish king, Alfonso X, was laying claim to this territory of the English King Henry III and the stage was set for a fight. Alfonso backed a Gascon rebellion, and the province began to fall to the Spanish. Eventually, however, both sides agreed that a diplomatic solution was the best way forward, and this would be sealed with a marriage between Henry’s eldest son, Prince Edward, and Alfonso’s little half-sister, Eleanor of Castile. Edward was 15 years old and Eleanor just shy of 13. Edward was keen to do his duty, praising the fiancée he’d never met as a girl “whose prudence and beauty we have heard by general report”. The two met and married on the same day in November 1254, and despite efforts to keep them apart owing to their tender ages, it quickly became apparent that the young royal couple were forming a close attachment.
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