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  1. Born on 5 August 1103 William Adelin would have been the first Anglo-Norman King, reflecting the changes in English society since the Conquest. While his father was King Henry I of England, the youngest son of William the Conqueror, his mother was Matilda (formerly Edith) of Scotland. Her mother had been a granddaughter of the old Anglo-Saxon kings, and had married King Malcolm III of Scotland in 1070. William Adelin might even have had a claim on the Scottish throne if he had survived.

    William AdelinWilliam’s Anglo-Saxon credentials were further enhanced by his birthplace, the old capital of Winchester, and his epithet. “Adelin” was a Normanised version of the old Anglo-Saxon word “Aetheling”, the name given to the heir to the throne. However his first name still indicated his father’s Norman origins.

    At the time of his birth William had one older sister, also called Matilda. While King Henry had a large brood of illegitimate children, William and his sister were the only two legitimate children from his marriage. Whether this was by choice (some chroniclers claimed that the Queen was so pious she requested a celibate marriage after the birth of an heir) or through bad luck is unknown. But William seems to have been a healthy child so there was no need for his parents to worry too much.

    Queen Matilda had received an excellent education at the convents of Romsey and Wilton and led a cultured, sophisticated court with her husband. She would have ensured that both her children received a good education themselves, although Princess Matilda was sent off to Germany at the age of six to await the crown of Holy Roman Empress. Details on William’s education are unknown, but he would have been expected to learn Latin and French. One small glimpse of family life can be seen in 1114 when Queen Matilda took her son to visit the newly founded Merton Priory. When Henry left England to visit Normandy in 1116 he left his wife as Regent, and charters from this time were also witnessed by William, suggesting that Matilda was helping her son learn the ropes through her supervision.

    William’s mother Queen Matilda died in 1118. As William was now fifteen Henry appointed him regent, albeit with a council of advisors, during his absences. He also had a political role to play in alliances. Normandy’s long-term dispute with neighbouring Anjou frequently broke in to periods of war. In an attempt to secure Anjou’s loyalty William had been betrothed to Matilda of Anjou, the daughter of the Count, in 1113. The pair married six years later in 1119. Little is recorded of their relationship, but presumably they were happy together as after William’s early death Matilda refused to remarry, and joined a convent instead.

    Following his wedding William spent a year with his father, travelling around Normandy and learning how to keep the peace in a region known for discontent and rebellion. In 1120 he became the nominal Duke of Normandy in order to pay homage for the Duchy to King Louis VI of France (Henry felt that as King it was beneath him to pay homage for anything). However, he never formally wielded power in the Duchy. However he was starting to be named as “king designate”, suggesting that to the chroniclers at least he was being lined up for some kind of dual-kingship system similar to that in France. The French monarchy tended to crown the heir during the lifetime of the father, it might have been Henry's intention to do the same.

    Having lived a relatively healthy life until that point there was no reason to think that William would not become King William III. However the “White Ship Disaster” led to the death of William and several of his illegitimate half-siblings. William had managed to make it to the safety of the medieval equivalent of a lifeboat. But an attempt to rescue his drowning half-sister led to his boat being capsized and the heir to the throne drowned with the rest. His wife had been in a different ship otherwise she probably would have died too.

    William’s death left his father with no legitimate male heir. Henry married a second time, to Adeliza of Louvain, but they had no children together. When Henry I died in 1135 the country was up for grabs and was claimed by both William’s sister, Empress Matilda, and their cousin Stephen of Blois.


    Last month's Almost King was Frederick, Prince of Wales.

  2. Although her early life can classify her as an “Unlucky Princess”, in many ways Margaret of Austria’s life was better than other such royal women. Betrothed and married several times, she was not only eventually allowed to manage her own destiny, but she became ruler of the Netherlands as Regent for her nephew. Through this she joined the ranks of other strong women who managed the region on behalf of their menfolk.

    Born in 1480 Margaret was the daughter of Mary of Burgundy and Maximilian of Austria. Mary was the heiress to the wealthy Duchy of Burgundy while Maximilian was next in line to rule the Holy Roman Empire. Sadly Margaret’s mother died in a hunting accident when she was just two years old, leaving the little girl and her older brother Philip in the care of their father and their step-grandmother, Margaret of York (sister of King Edward IV of England).

    Months after Margaret lost her mother her life was upended again as Maximilian completed a treaty that sealed her future. France and Burgundy had been at war for years and Maximilian moved to find peace with the French. The Treaty of Arras was signed in December 1482 and included the clause that Margaret would be married to the French Dauphin, Charles. Margaret was promptly sent off to France to grow up in the French court. Her education was supervised by the Regent, Anne of France, and she grew up with a selection of other French noble children.

    But the French marriage, and the position of Queen of France, never went to Margaret. In 1491 Charles renounced the treaty and called off the betrothal so he could marry Anne, Duchess of Brittany. Anne herself was betrothed to Margaret’s father Maximilian, who failed to show up with an army to defend his would-be wife. Anne was forced to agree to marry Charles, and Margaret was left hanging at the French court. She was finally returned to Burgundy in 1493 where she resided with her step-grandmother and namesake.

    Margaret of Austria in a black dress with a white headdressMaximilian was quick to arrange a new marriage for his only daughter. Their Most Catholic Majesties, Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, had one son and four daughters. Their eldest, Infanta Isabella, was due to marry the Portuguese heir. Maximilian picked their second daughter Juana to marry his son Philip, and in return Margaret was sent to marry Prince Juan, swapping the position of Queen of France for future Queen of Spain. At the end of 1496 Margaret left Burgundy once more, this time for Spain. She and Juan were married on 3 April 1497. The pair reportedly fell in love, Juan was entranced by his beautiful, witty bride. But six months later he was dead, probably from tuberculosis, leaving Margaret in the early stages of her first pregnancy. A baby girl was stillborn in April 1498.

    Margaret remained at the Spanish court for over a year, finally leaving Spain in September 1499. By March 1500 she was taking part in Burgundian court life, Philip and Juana invited her to be the godmother of their son and heir Charles. Once again Maximilian arranged for her to marry, this time to Philibert the Duke of Savoy. They married in 1501 but Philibert died three years later after contracting pleurisy, he and Margaret had never had children. After three betrothals and two marriages to men who had died young she decided she was done. She vowed to never marry again and spent the rest of her life as a widow. At one point Maximilian and Philip suggested her as a potential bride for King Henry VII of England, after his wife Elizabeth of York died. But Margaret refused, despite pressure from her family. Although she spent the rest of her life dressed as a widow she eventually decided against taking religious vows.

    In 1506 Margaret’s brother Philip died in Spain. He and his wife Juana had inherited the Kingdom of Castile, and Philip had fallen ill while visiting his new Kingdom. His death left a power vacuum, he and Juana were parents to two sons and four daughters (their youngest daughter was born after he died). Their oldest son, Charles, had been left in Burgundy but was still only a child. Maximilian appointed Margaret as the new Regent of the Netherlands, ruling on behalf of her little nephew and helping arrange his education.

    In the time between Juan's death and her marriage to Philibert Margaret had lived with her step-grandmother. She had clearly learned a lot from the older woman. Her court, based at Malines, was modelled on that of the Dowager Duchess. She had inherited personal effects from the elder Margaret including tapestries and jewellery. She negotiated peace with France, negotiating the treaty that led to the League of Cambrai. Although she essentially worked to increase the power of her Habsburg family, keeping the peace allowed trade to flourish in the Low Countries. Her court gained a reputation for elegance and education, especially for young women. One of those women was Anne Boleyn, who spent several years living with Margaret before moving to the French court.

    As he grew up Charles originally seems to have resented some of her influence, led by his closest advisor Guillaume de Croy. Working behind Margaret's back, de Croy persuaded Maximilian to let Charles declare himself of age to rule when he turned fifteen. Charles then dismissed his aunt as Regent and set up a council. She was a member but had no vote, essentially she was resigned to the position of advisor without being able to make any decisions. De Croy was a French sympathiser and led Charles down a path that saw him acknowledge that he held Burgundy with permission from the French. It was a mistake that Margaret would have never let him make.

    When Charles' grandfather Ferdinand of Aragon died in 1516 Margaret saw her chance. Margaret helped negotiate Charles' accession to the Spanish throne and waved him off with De Croy in his train. Charles realised he would struggle to single-handedly rule both the Netherlands and Spain. Margaret was returned to her former role in 1518. Margaret worked hard for her nephew, even negotiating his becoming Holy Roman Emperor even before her father Maximilian had died. She also spent much of the 1520s helping gather money and men for Charles' various wars. She supported his attempts to stop the spread of Protestantism in the Netherlands. In 1529 she was one of the key figures in the “Ladies Peace”, a treaty between the Netherlands and France negotiated between Margaret and Louise of Savoy.

    There are two stories of Margaret's death. The first is that she stepped on a shard of glass, which cut her foot and developed an infection. The second is that she suffered from an abcess on her leg for a number of years, which eventually became infected. Whatever the truth she does appear to have developed gangrene from an open wound. She died on 1 December 1530 having tried to fight the infection for nearly two weeks. She left all her possessions to Charles, who followed her wish that she be buried next to Philibert at Brou.

    Although Margaret was an unlucky princess in her early life, in many ways she fared much better than other women in this series. She managed to carve out for herself a place as trusted advisor and beloved Aunt to Charles. She didn't die in povery or anonymity, but gained a reputation for diplomacy and education.


    Last month's Unlucky Princess was Blanche of Bourbon.

     

  3. Unless he thought about changing his name, as later Kings did on accession, then Britain could have had it's first King Fred in the 17th century. On his birth in 1707 the idea that the Electors of Hanover would become Kings of Great Britain was becoming more obvious. Queen Anne had no surviving children, and Frederick's great-grandmother Sophia was Anne's nearest Protestant relative. Frederick in a white wig with a tan coat and blue sash

    When Frederick's grandfather George became King in 1714 it signified the start of immense changes in the young prince's life. Not only did his grandfather travel to Britain to take up his place as King, but Frederick's parents (George, now Prince of Wales, and Caroline of Ansbach) were summoned to take up their place in court too. However Hanover still needed a figurehead, so Frederick was left behind in the care of his great-uncle Ernest Augustus. At this point Frederick was George and Caroline's only son, his three sisters all accompanied their parents to Britain. Separating a child from his family for fourteen years was not the best way to create positive family feeling.

    In many ways though it helped shelter Frederick from the worst actions of his grandfather. When Caroline gave birth to a second son, another George, an incident at the baby's baptism led to the King banishing his son and daughter-in-law from court, while simultaneously seizing custody of their children. Baby George only lived for three months, but the three princesses were handed over to the care of the Duchess of Portland. At least Frederick was spared the sight of his parents being forced from court, but the King also banned them from visiting their eldest son in Hanover. They were also refused any influence over his education or future. At the age of 16 he was the figure of the first serious marriage negotiations for his future Queen. King George had identified a Princess of Prussia as a suitable consort for his grandson, but again his parents were banned from having any influence in the choice or negotiations. The King also issued a series of new titles to his grandson, including Duke of Edinburgh, which made Prince George suspicious that his father would bypass him in the succession and elevate Frederick to King.

    When King George I died in 1727 it seemed to be time at last for a proper family reunion. Frederick was now 21 years old, still unmarried as the Prussian negotiations were trailing on (and ultimately failed). The geographical distance and lack of communication between parents and child meant that the new King and Queen were ambivalent, even hostile, to their eldest son. They preferred the son they had been allowed to keep, Prince William, and viewed Frederick with distrust. He was the enduring symbol of his grandfather's behaviour and actions, and all the anger they felt towards the dead King was now turned on their eldest son.

    Prince Frederick finally arrived in England in December 1727, having missed his father's coronation. Although he behaved impeccably in the company of his parents, at night he took up a variety of mistresses. He was reportedly part of a group of young courtiers who ran through London's streets, smashing the windows of houses. He quickly became good friends with Lord John Hervey, the pair spent a lot of time together and shared a mistress, Anne Vane. Hervey was bisexual, married to Mary Leppell, he had affairs with multiple women and had a ten year relationship with Lord Stephen “Ste” Fox. His relationship with Ste only ended when the other man married. How far Hervey and Frederick's relationship went is still debated, not helped by the fact that Hervey's grandson destroyed a series of letters between Hervey and Frederick. But ultimately the pair fell out over Anne Vane. Hervey instead became close friends with Queen Caroline and continued to encourage the family's hatred of their eldest son. Frederick in a blue and gold coat and a fur-lined red robe of state

    In 1736 Frederick's future was finally settled with a proposal to marry Princess Augusta of Saxe-Coburg. The choice was made by his father, and Frederick simply replied that he was content to marry as his father directed. In reality he was heavily in debt and hoped that a marriage would lead to Parliament granting him an additional allowance. Princess Augusta was seventeen, didn't speak English, and was was married to the Prince less than two weeks after she set foot in England. She reportedly spent the first weeks of her marriage still playing with her childhood dolls, which had been in her trousseau.

    Not only did Frederick struggle to get the extra money but his relationship with his parents grew worse. He consistently opposed his father's policies, encouraging his friends to vote against the bills that were favoured by the King. He also manipulated his wife in to snubbing his family. Caroline simply remarked that she pitied the poor woman. By 1737 Augusta was pregnant with her first child. The pair were staying at Hampton Court Palace when she went in to labour in July 1737. Determined to avoid his parents having any control over the birth, Frederick risked the life of his wife and child by carrying her to their carriage and having her driven back to St James' Palace. A baby girl, Princess Augusta, was born on a tablecloth. There wasn't even a bed ready for the labouring princess. Frederick also used the opporunity of his expanding family to go to the House of Commons requesting a greater allowance. The King was furious that his finances might be publically examined, and although Frederick ultimately lost the vote the couple were banned from court. They eventually set up their own establishment at Leicester House, causing huge problems for courtiers who wanted to keep the favour of the current King without risking the displeasure of the future one.

    Queen Caroline's death in November 1737 could have brought the family closer together. But she refused to see her eldest son one last time, or offer him any forgiveness. Instead father and son tended to try and avoid each other. Hostesses were careful to ensure that both men would not be present at the same party at the same time. At one point George appealed to Frederick to help save Robert Walpole from being dismissed in 1742, but the prince refused. He was also resentful that his father refused to call him to any military role during the Jacobite Rebellion. Instead Frederick was a devoted father and paid close attention to the education of his children. He personally drafted a work on good government for his eldest son, Prince George. The children were all granted space in the garden that they were expected to tend themselves, and they were encouraged to play various sports outdoors as well. The Prince of Wales was also known for his taste in art and patronage of both painters and writers. He is also credited with increasing the interest in cricket, a game that he played and supported financially. 

    Sadly though Frederick managed to maintain the Hanover family's dislike of the heir. Prince George was the eldest but his brother Edward was the favourite of both parents. George was naturally shy and lacked self confidence, but his parents seem to viewed it as laziness. Frederick in particular found his quiet eldest son quite exasperating. But the paper he wrote on good government for his son shows the concern that he had for the boy's future. Perhaps if he had become King he would have been keen to train his son in the role of Prince of Wales better than his own father.

    Frederick himself never got his chance to enact his ideas for governing a country. In March 1751 he suddenly fell ill, possibly with pneumonia. Although he appeared to be improving a sudden coughing fit one evening suddenly proved fatal. He died in the arms of one of his servants from what's now believed to be a pulmonary embolism. Princess Augusta was pregnant with their daughter, Princess Caroline Matilda, their ninth child. His dedicated wife burned his private papers shortly after his death, ensuring that any incriminating letters or writings were destroyed.

    Frederick's death led to only the second time in English history that a grandson inherited the throne, when Prince George finally became King George III in October 1760. The first of course had been King Richard II, who had been deposed. Although George faced huge problems during his reign he at least didn't face the same fate as Richard.


     

    Last month's Almost King was Edward, the Black Prince

    Unless he thought about changing his name, as later Kings did on accession, then Britain could have had it's first King Fred in the 17th century. On his birth in 1707 the idea that the Electors of Hanover would become Kings of Great Britain was becoming more obvious. Queen Anne had no surviving children, and Frederick's great-grandmother Sophia was Anne's nearest Protestant relative.

    When Frederick's grandfather George became King in 1714 it signified the start of immense changes in the young prince's life. Not only did his grandfather travel to Britain to take up his place as King, but Frederick's parents (George, now Prince of Wales, and Caroline of Ansbach) were summoned to take up their place in court too. However Hanover still needed a figurehead, so Frederick was left behind in the care of his great-uncle Ernest Augustus. At this point Frederick was George and Caroline's only son, his three sisters all accompanied their parents to Britain. Separating a child from his family for fourteen years was not the best way to create positive family feeling.

    In many ways though it helped shelter Frederick from the worst actions of his grandfather. When Caroline gave birth to a second son, another George, an incident at the baby's baptism led to the King banishing his son and daughter-in-law from court, while simultaneously seizing custody of their children. Baby George only lived for three months, but the three princesses were handed over to the care of the Duchess of Portland. At least Frederick was spared the sight of his parents being forced from court, but the King also banned them from visiting their eldest son in Hanover. They were also refused any influence over his education or future. At the age of 16 he was the figure of the first serious marriage negotiations for his future Queen. King George had identified a Princess of Prussia as a suitable consort for his grandson, but again his parents were banned from having any influence in the choice or negotiations. The King also issued a series of new titles to his grandson, including Duke of Edinburgh, which made Prince George suspicious that his father would bypass him in the succession and elevate Frederick to King.

    When King George I died in 1727 it seemed to be time at last for a proper family reunion. Frederick was now 21 years old, still unmarried as the Prussian negotiations were trailing on (and ultimately failed). The geographical distance and lack of communication between parents and child meant that the new King and Queen were ambivalent, even hostile, to their eldest son. They preferred the son they had been allowed to keep, Prince William, and viewed Frederick with distrust. He was the enduring symbol of his grandfather's behaviour and actions, and all the anger they felt towards the dead King was now turned on their eldest son.

    Prince Frederick finally arrived in England in December 1727, having missed his father's coronation. Although he behaved impeccably in the company of his parents, at night he took up a variety of mistresses. He was reportedly part of a group of young courtiers who ran through London's streets, smashing the windows of houses. He quickly became good friends with Lord John Hervey, the pair spent a lot of time together and shared a mistress, Anne Vane. Hervey was bisexual, married to Mary Leppell, he had affairs with multiple women and had a ten year relationship with Lord Stephen “Ste” Fox. His relationship with Ste only ended when the other man married. How far Hervey and Frederick's relationship went is still debated, not helped by the fact that Hervey's grandson destroyed a series of letters between Hervey and Frederick. But ultimately the pair fell out over Anne Vane. Hervey instead became close friends with Queen Caroline and continued to encourage the family's hatred of their eldest son.

    In 1736 Frederick's future was finally settled with a proposal to marry Princess Augusta of Saxe-Coburg. The choice was made by his father, and Frederick simply replied that he was content to marry as his father directed. In reality he was heavily in debt and hoped that a marriage would lead to Parliament granting him an additional allowance. Princess Augusta was seventeen, didn't speak English, and was was married to the Prince less than two weeks after she set foot in England. She reportedly spent the first weeks of her marriage still playing with her childhood dolls, which had been in her trousseau.

    Not only did Frederick struggle to get the extra money but his relationship with his parents grew worse. He consistently opposed his father's policies, encouraging his friends to vote against the bills that were favoured by the King. He also manipulated his wife in to snubbing his family. Caroline simply remarked that she pitied the poor woman. By 1737 Augusta was pregnant with her first child. The pair were staying at Hampton Court Palace when she went in to labour in July 1737. Determined to avoid his parents having any control over the birth, Frederick risked the life of his wife and child by carrying her to their carriage and having her driven back to St James' Palace. A baby girl, Princess Augusta, was born on a tablecloth. There wasn't even a bed ready for the labouring princess. Frederick also used the opporunity of his expanding family to go to the House of Commons requesting a greater allowance. The King was furious that his finances might be publically examined, and although Frederick ultimately lost the vote the couple were banned from court. They eventually set up their own establishment at Leicester House, causing huge problems for courtiers who wanted to keep the favour of the current King without risking the displeasure of the future one.

    Queen Caroline's death in November 1737 could have brought the family closer together. But she refused to see her eldest son one last time, or offer him any forgiveness. Instead father and son tended to try and avoid each other. Hostesses were careful to ensure that both men would not be present at the same party at the same time. At one point George appealed to Frederick to help save Robert Walpole from being dismissed in 1742, but the prince refused. He was also resentful that his father refused to call him to any military role during the Jacobite Rebellion. Instead Frederick was a devoted father and paid close attention to the education of his children. He personally drafted a work on good government for his eldest son, Prince George. The children were all granted space in the garden that they were expected to tend themselves, and they were encouraged to play various sports outdoors as well. The Prince of Wales was also known for his taste in art and patronage of both painters and writers. He is also credited with increasing the interest in cricket, a game that he played and supported financially.

    Sadly though Frederick managed to maintain the Hanover family's dislike of the heir. Prince George was the eldest but his brother Edward was the favourite of both parents. George was naturally shy and lacked self confidence, but his parents seem to viewed it as laziness. Frederick in particular found his quiet eldest son quite exasperating. But the paper he wrote on good government for his son shows the concern that he had for the boy's future. Perhaps if he had become King he would have been keen to train his son in the role of Prince of Wales better than his own father.

    Frederick himself never got his chance to enact his ideas for governing a country. In March 1751 he suddenly fell ill, possibly with pneumonia. Although he appeared to be improving a sudden coughing fit one evening suddenly proved fatal. He died in the arms of one of his servants from what's now believed to be a pulmonary embolism. Princess Augusta was pregnant with their daughter, Princess Caroline Matilda, their ninth child. His dedicated wife burned his private papers shortly after his death, which some historians have speculated could have included love letters to Lord Hervey, and plans for what to do in the event of the death of the King.

    Frederick's death led to only the second time in English history that a grandson inherited the throne, when Prince George finally became King George III in October 1760.


    Last month's Almost King was Edward, the Black Prince.

     

  4. You might have noticed so far that although the unlucky princesses have generally been unhappy in their marriages, none of them have specifically been murdered on the orders of their unpleasant spouse.

    Step forward Blanche of Bourbon. Isabella-of-Valois

    Born in 1339 in France, Blanche was descended from the French royal family on both sides. Her father Peter Duke of Bourbon was a great-grandson of Louis IX, while her mother Isabella (depicted on the right, there are no surviving images of Blanche) was a granddaughter of Philip III. Her half-brother Philip became King Philip VI of France and the first King from the House of Valois after Charles IV died without a direct male heir. Philip's claim was contested by King Edward III of England, who claimed the French throne through his mother, triggering the start of the Hundred Years War.

    In 1353 Blanche was dispatched to the Kingdom of Castile in Spain to marry King Pedro. He had not had much luck with brides so far. His first betrothal had been to Joan of England, a daughter of Edward III. On her journey to her bridegroom she had caught the plague shortly after landing in Gascony and died before she even met her future husband. Pedro was reportedly controlled by his mother Maria of Portugal, and it was she who organised this second match as part of an alliance with France.

    Pedro's feelings about Joan of England aren't known, but it's generally accepted that before Blanche arrived he had already moved on and fallen in love with Maria de Padilla. He may even have married her before Blanche arrived, but if so his mother soon put paid to it. He was forced to renounce any promise he might have made to Padilla and instead marry the French princess. The marriage was celebrated on 3 June 1353, Blanche was just fourteen years old and had had to endure the usual problems of a foreign princess. Saying goodbye to her family, travelling a great distance in various uncomfortable modes of transport, and now an arrival in a foreign land.

    It quickly got worse. Three days after the marriage Pedro abandoned his new bride, declaring that she wasn't a virgin and the marriage should be dissolved. Blanche had been escorted from France by Pedro's illegitimate half brother Fadrique. They may have struck up a friendship on the journey or it may have been a plan by Pedro all along to get out of a marriage he didn't want. Either way he accused Blanche of having slept with Fadrique on the journey. Blanche was imprisoned and Pedro returned to Maria de Padilla.

    Poor unhappy Blanche was locked up in the castle of Arevalo. In theory a foreign princess had a certain amount of protection from her birth family but the French seemed relatively helpless to assist her. An appeal to the Pope to excommunicate Pedro failed, in the end the French allied with the neighbouring country of Aragon. Pedro was faced with battles on the borders as well as rebellion from his illegitimate half brothers. He had Fadrique murdered in 1358 after he assisted another brother, Enrique, in his rebellion against Pedro.

    In 1361 the Aragonese forces and their French allies were edging closer to Arevalo. Blanche, a valuable hostage, was moved to Medina Sidonia, where she suddenly died. Some accounts blame her death on an outbreak of plague, but many were quick to blame Pedro. He was accused of ordering her murder, by either poison or shot by a crossbow bolt. In some ways there was no point in killing her as it only served to anger the French more. On the other hand Pedro may have hoped that her death would leave him free to officially Maria de Padilla so he could have their four children legitimised.

    Pedro himself was murdered in 1369 by Enrique, leading to the start of the House of Trastamara. His death wasn't mourned, he had betrayed every ally who had helped him over the years. Blanche was just another name to add to the list.


    If you like the Unlucky Princess series you might like my eBook series - 30 Women in History.

    Last month's Unlucky Princess was Caroline Matilda of Great Britain.

  5. One of the most famous losses to the English throne, Edward the Black Prince was extremely popular for most of his life, but ended it a sick, bitter man.

    Born in 1330 Prince Edward was just what the royal family needed. His father, King Edward III, was a puppet king controlled by his mother Isabella of France and her lover Roger Mortimer. Baby Edward was barely four months old before his father led a daring plot, arrested Roger Mortimer and had Isabella put under house arrest. Mortimer was executed and King Edward III now ruled in his own right. Edward the Black Prince

    His family were very close, a fact that is primarily attributed to his mother. Queen Philippa had her children all raised in the same royal nursery together, along with a selection of children and infants from noble families. Other children raised alongside the Royal family included Blanche of Lancaster, who married Edward's brother John of Gaunt, and Joan of Kent.

    At the age of thirteen Edward was officially named as Prince of Wales, and acted as a "symbolic regent" in England while his father was off on military campaigns. He was granted extensive estates in Cornwall, Wales and Chester, which gave him an income suitable for the household of the heir to the throne. As a teenager his father also began to include him in the numerous battles that were fought in France. He helped win victory at the Battle of Crécy, and was part of the naval Battle of Winchelsea, which helped him gain fame as a great leader and future warrior-king. He developed a reputation as a brave prince, talented military commander and a model of chivalry, as well as an excellent jouster taking part in tournaments as an adult. To many at the time he was the epitome of what one expected from a king-in-waiting, and the bonus was that it came without any of the family troubles that Henry II had faced with his brood of sons.

    But in 1361 Edward caused a bit of a scandal by marrying Joan of Kent. Not only did they reportedly not ask King Edward's permission to marry, but Joan was a widow with several children. As the heir to the throne Prince Edward was expected to marry a foreign princess, not an English lady with four children to her name. After a more public wedding ceremony the couple moved to Gascony, where Joan gave birth to Edward of Angouleme and Richard of Bordeaux.

    Sadly for Prince Edward his later years saw the shine of glory wear off as England lost numerous military campaigns, and he developed more of a reputation for brutality. He was persuaded to help King Pedro of Castile regain his throne in 1366, and left Gascony at the head of an army in early 1367. Although they were successful, and Pedro was back on his throne by April 1367, the Prince was ultimately betrayed by his ally. Pedro consistently evaded repaying the English their share of the costs of the campaign (Pedro himself had paid for very little, most of the financial burden had been taken on by the Prince). While waiting in Valladolid for the promised money the English soldiers contracted dysentery. The Prince himself fell dangerously ill and never fully recovered. Eventually they returned to Gascony and Aquitaine, having never been repaid by Pedro. Prince Edward had to raise taxes in Aquitaine as he was now facing serious financial problems. This led to problems in the area as the people saw no reason why they should pay the cost of Pedro's broken promises.

    Naturally the problems in Aquitaine meant that the French could take advantage of English weakness in the region, and they pressed their advantage. When the town of Limoges surrendered to the French after a siege, the Prince was furious. The English retook the town, and on Prince Edward's orders the people of Limoges were slaughtered. Although Edward had taken part in similar actions in the past, it was this in particular that permanently tainted the memory of him.

    Now a sick man who was unable to sit on a horse, Edward's shining reputation for chivalry and an unblemished military record was quickly being forgotten. The prince was in no fit state to try and bring Aquitaine back under control, and so he and Joan arranged to return to England. Their son and heir Edward of Angouleme died shortly before they left, there wasn't even time for the grieving parents to bury their own child.

    On his return to England the Black Prince was largely confined to his bed, occasionally being carried to parliament in a litter. He eventually died on 8 June 1376, a year before his own father, leaving his second son Richard of Bordeaux to become King Richard II in 1377.


    Last month's Almost King was Eustace of Boulogne!