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Eleanor de Montfort

Eleanor de Montfort

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Eleanor de Montfort, Princess of Wales and Lady of Snowdon (1258 – 19 June 1282) was a daughter of Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester
Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester
Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, 1st Earl of Chester , sometimes referred to as Simon V de Montfort to distinguish him from other Simon de Montforts, was an Anglo-Norman nobleman. He led the barons' rebellion against King Henry III of England during the Second Barons' War of 1263-4, and...

 and Eleanor of England. She was also the first woman who can be shown to have used the title Princess of Wales
Princess of Wales
Princess of Wales is a British courtesy title held by the wife of The Prince of Wales since the first "English" Prince of Wales in 1283.Although there have been considerably more than ten male heirs to the throne, there have been only ten Princesses of Wales. The majority of Princes of Wales...

.

Early life


Eleanor's maternal grandparents were John of England
John of England
John , also known as John Lackland , was King of England from 6 April 1199 until his death...

 and his queen consort
Queen consort
A queen consort is the wife of a reigning king. A queen consort usually shares her husband's rank and holds the feminine equivalent of the king's monarchical titles. Historically, queens consort do not share the king regnant's political and military powers. Most queens in history were queens consort...

 Isabella of Angoulême
Isabella of Angoulême
Isabella of Angoulême was queen consort of England as the second wife of King John from 1200 until John's death in 1216. They had five children by the king including his heir, later Henry III...

. Her maternal uncles included Henry III of England
Henry III of England
Henry III was the son and successor of John as King of England, reigning for 56 years from 1216 until his death. His contemporaries knew him as Henry of Winchester. He was the first child king in England since the reign of Æthelred the Unready...

 and Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall
Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall
Richard of Cornwall was Count of Poitou , 1st Earl of Cornwall and German King...

. Her maternal aunts included Joan of England, Queen of Scotland, and Isabella of England
Isabella of England
For Isabella of England, the daughter of Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault, see Isabella de Coucy.Isabella of England, also called Elizabeth was an English princess and, by marriage, Holy Roman Empress, German Queen, and Queen consort of Sicily.-Biography:She was the fourth child but...

, and Joan, Lady of Wales
Joan, Lady of Wales
Joan, Princess of Wales and Lady of Snowdon was the wife of Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Wales and Gwynedd and effective ruler of most of Wales.-Early life:...

.

When Eleanor was thirteen years old, her father Earl Simon and brother Lord Henry were killed at the Battle of Evesham
Battle of Evesham
The Battle of Evesham was one of the two main battles of 13th century England's Second Barons' War. It marked the defeat of Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, and the rebellious barons by Prince Edward – later King Edward I – who led the forces of his father, King Henry III...

 (4 August 1265). According to the chroniclers, Nicholas Trivet
Nicholas Trivet
Nicholas Trivet was an English Anglo-Norman chronicler.Trivet was born in Somerset and was the son of Sir Thomas Trevet , a judge who came of a Norfolk or Somerset family...

, William Rishanger
William Rishanger
William Rishanger , nicknamed "Chronigraphus", was an English annalist and Benedictine monk of St. Albans.-Writings:Rishanger quite likely wrote the Opus Chronicorum, a continuation from 1259 of Matthew Paris's Chronicle. In effect it is a history of his own times from 1259 to 1307, a spirited and...

 and others, Earl Simon had earlier made an alliance with Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, whereby it was agreed that Llywelyn and Eleanor would marry.
After Earl Simon's death, his family was forced to flee the Kingdom of England
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

: Countess Eleanor took her daughter to the safety of the Dominican nunnery at Montargis
Montargis
Montargis is a commune in the Loiret department in north-central France. The town is located about south of Paris and east of Orléans in the Gâtinais....

, France, a Montfort foundation.

Marriage to Llywelyn ap Gruffydd


Countess Eleanor died in Spring 1275, and shortly afterwards Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the Prince of Wales, and Eleanor de Montfort married by proxy, (per nuncios) per verba de presenti (Canon law endorsed a marital bond that was made in this way, with the full consent of both of the individuals, before witnesses).

Capture and imprisonment by Edward I


Eleanor began the sea voyage from France to north Wales, avoiding making a land passage through England. The two ships carrying Eleanor, her brother Amaury and their entourage, sailing off the south coast of England, were captured by sailors from the port of Bristol
Bristol
Bristol is a city, unitary authority area and ceremonial county in South West England, with an estimated population of 433,100 for the unitary authority in 2009, and a surrounding Larger Urban Zone with an estimated 1,070,000 residents in 2007...

, just off the Isles of Scilly
Isles of Scilly
The Isles of Scilly form an archipelago off the southwestern tip of the Cornish peninsula of Great Britain. The islands have had a unitary authority council since 1890, and are separate from the Cornwall unitary authority, but some services are combined with Cornwall and the islands are still part...

. Six named men together with the crews of four ships of Bristol were rewarded with a payment of 220 marks (Calendar Patent Rolls, 1272–81, 161; PRO Liberate Rolls C62).
'Thomas Larchdeacon', 'Thomas the Archdeacon', who masterminded the capture on behalf of her first cousin Edward I of England
Edward I of England
Edward I , also known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots, was King of England from 1272 to 1307. The first son of Henry III, Edward was involved early in the political intrigues of his father's reign, which included an outright rebellion by the English barons...

 was paid £20 in May 1276 by the king's orders, through the sheriff of Cornwall.
(Calendar of Close Rolls, 1272–79, 292).

Eleanor was taken by ship to Bristol, then held prisoner at Windsor
Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle is a medieval castle and royal residence in Windsor in the English county of Berkshire, notable for its long association with the British royal family and its architecture. The original castle was built after the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror. Since the time of Henry I it...

 for nearly three years (PRO: Liberate Rolls, C62/ 52). In 1278, following the signing of the Treaty of Aberconwy
Treaty of Aberconwy
The Treaty of Aberconwy was signed in 1277 by King Edward I of England and Llewelyn the Last of modern-day Wales, who had fought each other on and off for years over control of the Welsh countryside...

, she was released.

Married life


Eleanor and Llywelyn were formally married (secundum formam ecclesie) at the cathedral door, as was the custom, of the cathedral church at Worcester
Worcester
The City of Worcester, commonly known as Worcester, , is a city and county town of Worcestershire in the West Midlands of England. Worcester is situated some southwest of Birmingham and north of Gloucester, and has an approximate population of 94,000 people. The River Severn runs through the...

, on the Feast Day of St Edward, 1278; Edward gave the bride, his cousin, away and paid for the wedding feast. Before the wedding mass was celebrated, Edward insisted that Llywelyn should put his seal to an adjustment to the agreement that they had previously made. Llywelyn had no alternative but to comply, and he later stated that he did it under duress, 'moved by the fear that can grip a steadfast man' (see Registrum Epistolarum Fratis Johannis Peckham Archiepiscopi Cantuariensis, Lambeth Palace Archives).

Following the ceremony, Eleanor became officially known as Princess of Wales and Lady of Snowdon. (see Calendar of Patent Rolls, 1272–81, 306; CPR, 1281–92, 11; Calendar of Ancient Correspondence, 75-76; Foedera I, ii, 576, 584, 587).

Death and legacy


Eleanor died in childbirth on 19 June 1282 (see The chronicle of Bury St Edmunds, 74-76) at the royal home Abergwyngregyn
Abergwyngregyn
Abergwyngregyn is a village of historical note in Gwynedd, a county and principal area in Wales. Under its historic name of Aber Garth Celyn it was the seat of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd....

, on the north coast of Gwynedd; her body was carried across the Lafan Sands to the Franciscan Friary of Llanfaes, Anglesey (see Brut y Tywysogion, Peniarth MS20, 223; Peniarth MS20Tr, 117). The Friary, on the opposite shore of the Menai to Abergwyngregyn
Abergwyngregyn
Abergwyngregyn is a village of historical note in Gwynedd, a county and principal area in Wales. Under its historic name of Aber Garth Celyn it was the seat of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd....

, had been founded by Llywelyn Fawr, the grandfather of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, in memory of his wife Joan.

On 12 July 1282, members of Eleanor's personal household were given 'safe-conduct' to travel to England (see Calendar of Welsh Rolls, 234).

Llywelyn was killed on 11 December 1282. The child, Gwenllian of Wales
Gwenllian of Wales
Gwenllian ferch Llywelyn was the only child of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the last native Tywysog Cymru . She is sometimes confused with Gwenllian ferch Gruffudd, who lived two centuries earlier.- Lineage :...

, was captured the following year by the armies of King Edward I of England, and taken to be held at Sempringham Priory
Sempringham Priory
Sempringham Priory was a priory in Lincolnshire, England, located in the medieval hamlet of Sempringham, to the northwest of Pointon. Today, all that remains of the priory is a marking on the ground where the walls stood and a square, which are identifiable only in aerial photos of the vicinity...

 in Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire is a county in the east of England. It borders Norfolk to the south east, Cambridgeshire to the south, Rutland to the south west, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire to the west, South Yorkshire to the north west, and the East Riding of Yorkshire to the north. It also borders...

.

Ancestors