the cathedral of toledo

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The Toledo Cathedral is considered by many the pinnacle of the Spanish Gothic style. Both its exterior and interior are stunning, and its visual appeal could only be surpassed by the cathedral’s interesting history. 

The temple was actually built on top of a Muslim mosque, and before that it had been a church in the sixth century during the reign of the Visigoth King Recaredo. King San Fernando and the archbishop began building the new church in 1226.

The Patronage of the Cult of St Thomas Becket by Henry II’s Daughters | Matilda of Saxony, Leonor of England, Joan of England 

«The Anglo-Castilian connection in this period is also represented by the queen’s efforts to  cleanse  her father’s  memory  after the murder of Thomas Becket. Leonor had  married  Alfonso [VIII of Castile] only a few months before the murder of the archbishop of Canterbury in his own cathedral, events that left Christian Europe in shock. News of his brutal assassination caused immediate reaction all over  Europe and must  have  soon reached  the  Castilian court  and Leonor’s ears.  Her  father was  blamed  for the  prelate’s  murder and the mighty king  of  the  English  was brought  to  his knees  through  public repentance  and  expiation. But  soon  after Becket’s horrid death, Henry II’s expiation turned into veneration and so the martyr of Canterbury – canonised in 1173 – having been a victim of Plantagenet wrath was then becoming an object of Plantagenet piety and devotion.

Kay Brainerd Slocum has studied the spread of the cult in Europe due to the patronage of Henry’s daughters and  has  suggested that  the  queen of Castile «departing from  the  usual  practice, wished to establish her own very close connection, and that of her natal family, to the Canterbury martyr». The wonderfully coloured prayerbook of Henry of Saxony and Bavaria, married to Matilda of England, and the stunning mosaics of Monreale in Sicily, commissioned during the  queenship of her youngest sister, Joan, bear witness to  the agency  of  Henry II’s daughters in the promotion of Becket’s cult across the continent.

Leonor paid her dues in Castile and her contribution to the cult was manifest and resolute. The queen joined her father’s cry for divine forgiveness in the dedication of altars at the cathedrals of Sigüenza and Toledo and perhaps in the commission of wall paintings at a church in Soria».


Cerda, José Manuel: The Marriage of Alfonso VIII of Castile and Leonor Plantagenet: the first bond between Spain and England in the Middle Ages, in: Aurell, Martin (ed.): Les Stratégies matrimoniales (IXe-XIIIe siècle), Turnhout, Brepols, 2013, pp. 143-153, pp. 146-147.


Or: my favourite sisterly alliance.

Kings and Queens of Castile | Leonor of England, Queen of Castile and Toledo

 Inspired by: 

“He didn’t marry you to become king. He became king because he wanted to marry you.” ― Megan Whalen Turner, The King of Attolia.


Eleanor of England
(Spanish: Leonor; 13 October 1162 – 31 October 1214), or Eleanor Plantaganet, was Queen of Castile and Toledo as wife of Alfonso VIII of Castile. She was the sixth child and second daughter of Henry II, King of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Eleanor was born in the castle at Domfront, Normandy on 13 October 1162, as the second daughter of Henry II, King of England and his wife Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine, and was baptised by Henry of Marcy. Her half-siblings were Marie and Alix of France, and her full siblings were Henry the Young, Duchess Matilda, King Richard, Duke Geoffrey, Queen Joan and King John.

In 1174, when she was 12 years old, Eleanor married King Alfonso VIII of Castile in Burgos. The couple had been betrothed in 1170, but due to the bride’s youth as well as the uproar in Europe regarding her father’s suspected involvement in the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket, the wedding was delayed. Her parents’ purpose in arranging the marriage was to secure Aquitaine’s Pyrenean border, while Alfonso was seeking an ally in his struggles with his uncle,Sancho VI of Navarre. In 1177, this led to Henry overseeing arbitration of the border dispute.

Around the year 1200, Alfonso began to claim that the duchy of Gascony was part of Eleanor’s dowry, but there is no documented foundation for that claim. It is highly unlikely that Henry II would have parted with so significant a portion of his domains. At most, Gascony may have been pledged as security for the full payment of his daughter’s dowry. Her husband went so far on this claim as to invade Gascony in her name in 1205. In 1206, her brother John, King of Englandgranted her safe passage to visit him, perhaps to try opening peace negotiations. In 1208, Alfonso yielded on the claim.Decades later, their great-grandson Alfonso X of Castile would claim the duchy on the grounds that her dowry had never been fully paid.

Of all Eleanor of Aquitaine’s daughters, her namesake was the only one who was enabled, by political circumstances, to wield the kind of influence her mother had exercised. In her own marriage treaty, and in the first marriage treaty for her daughter Berengaria, Eleanor was given direct control of many lands, towns, and castles throughout the kingdom.She was almost as powerful as Alfonso, who specified in his will in 1204 that she was to rule alongside their son in the event of his death, including taking responsibility for paying his debts and executing his will. It was she who persuaded him to marry their daughter Berengaria to Alfonso IX of León. Troubadours and sages were regularly present in Alfonso VIII’s court due to Eleanor’s patronage.

Eleanor took particular interest in supporting religious institutions. In 1179, she took responsibility to support and maintain a shrine to St. Thomas Becket in the cathedral of Toledo. She also created and supported the Abbey of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas, which served as a refuge and tomb for her family for generations, and its affiliated hospital.

When Alfonso died, Eleanor was reportedly so devastated with grief that she was unable to preside over the burial. Their eldest daughter Berengaria instead performed these honours. Eleanor then took sick and died only twenty-eight days after her husband, and was buried at Abbey of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas.

anonymous asked:

Can you tell me about the daughters of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II?

Hello, I’d love to write about them! These ladies are very interesting in my opinion and sadly under-appreciated. <3 Please forgive my long response as I wanted to give details for each.

The couple had three daughters. The eldest was named Matilda (sometimes referred to as Maud). The middle daughter is Eleanor (sometimes referred to as Leanor). The youngest daughter is Joan (sometimes referred to as Joanna). :)

Matilda (1156 – 1189) 
Born in the summer of 1156 at Windsor Castle, named after her paternal grandmother. She was known to be a sweet, radiant and reliant young girl. It appears she spent alot of her childhood around her mother whilst journeying through the Angevin empire and they remained close throughout her adulthood. She departed for Saxony late in September in 1167 to meet her future husband, taking the same route her paternal grandmother fifty years before her had done (when she moved to Germany to marry her first husband Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor). At the age of 12 (c.1168) she married Henry, Duke of Saxony and Bavaria to strengthen ties with the Holy Roman Empire. Matilda became Duchess of Saxony and Bavaria. When she was around age 17 (c.1172) she had her first child, a daughter. Around this time her husband left for the Holy Land and she governed his estates in his absence. When Henry returned in 1174 he found himself in conflict with Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor and around 1180 he and his family were forced to flee Saxony. The family would find refuge in Normandy at the court of Matilda’s father. Whilst residing here, she became captivated by a troubador named Bertran de Born, who would write about her. Soon after arriving, Henry left on pilgrimage, leaving pregnant Matilda behind. It’s thought that she gave birth to child who died young, around this date. Henry returned to his family in Normandy around 1182 Christmastide. Matilda watched as her family fought against each other and dealt with grief when her elder brother Henry died. Matilda and Henry were allowed to leave for Saxony in October 1185 (because King Henry II and the Pope persuaded Frederick). At this time the couple’s family had grown, they now had four sons. In 1189 the emperor forced Henry to go into exile once more. Matilda was unwilling to leave and did not leave with her husband, but stayed to defend his rights and interests as regent. Three months after Henry left, Matilda died at the young age of 33. She was a loving and loyal wife, who was known as ‘die Fromme’ / ‘Matilda the pious’. She was buried at Brunswick Cathedral.

Eleanor (1162 – 1214)
Born on October 13th, 1162 at the Château de Domfront in Normandy. She was named after her powerful mother. She was the only daughter enabled (by political circumstances) to exercise the sort of influence Eleanor of Aquitaine maintained. At the age of 12 (c.1174) Eleanor married King Alfonso VIII of Castile in Burgos, in way of securing Aquitaine’s Pyrenean border and for King Alfonso to make new allies. Eleanor was pious and loved supporting multiple religious institutions. In 1179, she took responsibility to support and maintain a shrine to St. Thomas Becket in the cathedral of Toledo. She also established the Abbey of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas, which served as a refuge and tomb for her family and descendants, and its affiliated hospital. In the beginning of the year 1180, Eleanor gave birth to her first child, a daughter. With her marriage treaty to Alfonso she had gained control of many castles, lands and towns, she was almost as powerful as her husband. Troubadors and mentors were often seen at court because of Eleanor’s patronage. In 1200 Alfonso started to claim that the duchy of Glascony was apart of her dowry, yet there is no documented evidence for the claim. Five years later in 1205 he invaded, but nothing came of it. At this time Eleanor had given birth to 7 more children (not including three who had died right after birth or in early infancy). A year later Eleanor was granted safe passage by her younger brother John (who was now king of England) to visit him and talk about peace negotiations. Around two years later Alfonso relented the claim. In October 1214, Alfonso died, leaving Eleanor grief-stricken. Filled with sadness Eleanor died three weeks after him at the age of 52. She left behind 6 of her children, four of her daughters became queens. They sat on the thrones of Castile, Portugal, Aragon and France. She was buried at the Abbey of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas.

Joan (1165 – 1199)
Born in October of 1165 in Anjou, France. Like her sisters, she was close with her mother and spent her childhood in her courts at Winchester and Poitiers. It’s noted that Joan grew up to be beautiful with blonde/red hair and ‘nice’ features. At the age of twelve (c.1177) she was married off to William II of Sicily and was crowned queen of Sicily at Palermo Cathedral. Joan became popular with the people. It’s said her husband grew very fond of her and that he let her help him with some of his duties. In 1181 it’s believed Joan gave birth to a boy called Bohemond, that lived very briefly. Eight years later, when she was only 24, William died, leaving behind no heir. Joan’s lands given to her by William were seized by the succeeded king, Tancred, she was then kept prisoner by him. In 1190 Joan’s elder brother Richard (who was king of England) arrived in Italy on his way to the Holy Land. Richard demanded Joan’s return and all money from her dowry. After being released Joan travelled for about year with Richard’s betrothed Berengaria, until they reached Acre. Whilst in the Holy Land some marriage plans were made for Joan, but they never came to pass. Back in France, in 1196 she agreed to marry Count Raymond VI of Toulouse. It’s thought that this marriage was not so pleasant as her first one. However, one year (c.1197) after marrying, Joan gave birth to a son, who would be Raymond’s heir and the following year she gave birth to a daughter. The next year (c.1199) whilst pregnant with her third child, Joan was left alone to face a rebellion in which the lords of Saint-Félix-de-Caraman were prominent. She laid siege to their castle, yet soon headed north to seek her brother, king Richard’s protection. Instead she found him dead at Château de Chalus-Chabrol. In distraught she fled to Rouen where her mother’s court was held. She made an unusual request to take the veil at Fontevrault Abbey and her request was accepted. Around September of the same year (c.1199) Joan died at the age of 33, giving birth. Her son, born by cesarean once she was dead, lived just long enough to be christened by the name Richard. She was buried at the same Abbey.  [You can find a gifset I made for her here.]