The past few days have been spent touring around Scotland and getting myself out of the depressing rut. Money is not unlimited unfortunately and my traveling comes with a very strict budget. I went first to Inverness which is far north of Scotland. A rather pretty town, but there is not much to do apart from the drink and walking around.
However, the bus trip from Edinburgh to Inverness is spectacular. The Highlands are incredibly beautiful, serene and yet rugged in the same breath. The roads seem to flow with the landscape rather than against it. The next day I went to Stirling, which is where I am currently. The town is rather pretty as well, and it is where William Wallace is from and his monument is. I am currently sitting in the hostel with Iron Man in the background and a man who always wears a kilt. Today we talk about one of the other Provençal sisters. In alphabetical order, we are on to Eleanor of England.
Eleanor of Provence, Queen of England (1223-1291)
Eleanor was the second daughter of Beatrice of Savoy and Raymond Berenguer of Provence. When she was growing up, she was very close to her sister, Marguerite of Provence. She was considered very pretty by contemporary standards and was a leader of fashion. She was regarded as fairly learned, and skilled at poetry and writing.
She married Henry III of England at the age of about 12, and intially was greeted fairly well by the kingdom. However, due to her nepotism and favour towards her Savoyard family she grew to be very unpopular, especially amongst Londoners. One incident had the Londoners attack her barge on Thames as she was traveling. In return, Eleanor punished the Londoners by levying higher taxes. Another time she was pelted with stones, mud and rotten food and was rescued by the Mayor of London. While an apparently very loving father and brother, Henry III was seen as a very weak ruler. Often, he appeased his unruly relatives rather than punishing them as their due. His French half-brothers de Lusignans were a constant thorn in the side of the English crown as they were constantly grasping and begging for privileges but had no talent for politics.
Henry had also angered his subjects by sending back gifts that his citizens had sent at the birth of his son, Edward I. Due to this and his favouritism of foreigners, he became unpopular. Once he was challenged for his crown by his brother-in-law, Simon de Montfort and Eleanor stoutly defended her crown and her husbands rights. While Eleanor’s nepotism was seen as something of a weakness, her uncles were men of considerable intellect and talent, her uncle Tomasso became the Archbishop of Canterbury (the highest church position in England). However, Tomasso proved to be very beneficial as he got Henry III and his son to come to a peace.
When Henry III died in 1272, Eleanor remained in England and took care of her grandchildren. Eventually she retired to a convent, and died in 1291.She was survived by her two sons, her two daughters both dying in 1275.