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Category: Women in History

  1. Desperately Seeking Sons: Alexander, Joan and Marie

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    Born in August 1198, Alexander II became King of Scotland at the age of 16. Two years later he attempted to take advantage of the chaos caused in England by the revolt against King John, but after John's death led to a change in English leadership the Scots were forced to return home. The Treaty of Kingston was signed in 1217, and in the following years diplomatic efforts led to the still unmarried Alexander being given the hand of the young English princess Joan.

  2. Desperately Seeking Sons: Manuel, Isabella, Maria and Eleanor

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    King Manuel I of Portugal is known as “Manuel the Fortunate” because he wasn't supposed to become King. He was the youngest of his parents nine children and the last of their six sons, but illness and murder conspired to leave him as the sole heir to both his parents lands and the family's claim to the Portuguese throne.

  3. Desperately Seeking Sons: Baldwin, Godehild, Arda and Adelaide

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    This month's “Desperately Seeking Sons” candidate is King Baldwin I of Jerusalem.

    Only the second King of Jerusalem, Baldwin was married three times during his life, and even courted controversy with his third marriage as his second wife was very much alive and very cross with how she had been treated. Historians have debated Baldwin's treatment of the women in his life, with some suggesting that he was homosexual (which may also explain why he doesn't appear to have fathered any children, legitimate or otherwise). But with so little information about his wives and their marriages, making a guess at his sexuality is difficult.

  4. Almost Queens: Caroline of Hesse-Darmstadt

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    When George William Frederick, Prince of Wales, became King George III of Great Britain in 1760, he instantly became the most eligible bachelor in Europe.

    However the field of candidates was somewhat narrower than it had been for his medieval predecessors. There could no longer be a glorious match with a wealthy French princess or a well-connected Spanish infanta, because the bride had to be a Protestant. As a result George was confined to looking to Scandinavian candidates, and the young women of the German principalities.

  5. Almost Queens: Joan of Valois

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    Most of our Almost Queens have been robbed of their prospective crown by death, either theirs or their husbands. In the case of Blanche of Burgundy, cousin of Margaret of Burgundy, it was divorce because of her adultery that stopped her getting the crown.

    Getting an annulment for a marriage could be quite tricky, especially if a Pope decided not to play along. Pity poor Joan of Valois then, who was not only completely blameless but couldn't even hope to be defended by the Holy Father.