Eleanor of England, Queen of Castile

Eleanor of England (Spanish: Leonor; c.1161[1] – 31 October 1214[2]), was Queen of Castile and Toledo[3] as wife of Alfonso VIII of Castile.[4][5] She was the sixth child and second daughter of Henry II, King of England, and Eleanor of Aquitaine.[6][7]

Eleanor of England
Queen consort of Castile
TenureSeptember 1170 – 5 October 1214
Born13 October 1161
Domfront Castle, Normandy
Died31 October 1214 (aged 53)
Burgos, Castile
SpouseAlfonso VIII, King of Castile
Berengaria, Queen of Castile
Urraca, Queen of Portugal
Blanche, Queen of France
Eleanor, Queen of Aragon
Henry I, King of Castile
HousePlantagenet / Angevin[a]
FatherHenry II, King of England
MotherEleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine

Early life and family

Eleanor was born in the castle at Domfront, Normandy c.1161,[1] 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 Countess Marie and Countess Alix, and her full siblings were Henry the Young, Duchess Matilda, King Richard, Duke Geoffrey, Queen Joan and King John. Eleanor had an older brother, William (17 August 1153- April 1156) the first son of Henry II, and Eleanor of Aquitaine. He died of a seizure at Wallingford Castle, and he was buried in Reading Abbey at the feet of his great-grandfather Henry I.


The betrothal of Alphonso of Castile and Eleanor Plantagenet
The betrothal of Alfonso VIII of Castille and Eleanor of England.

In 1170 Eleanor married King Alfonso VIII of Castile in Burgos.[1] Her parents' purpose in arranging the marriage was to secure Aquitaine's Pyrenean border, while Alfonso was seeking an ally in his struggles with Sancho VI of Navarre. In 1177, this led to Henry overseeing arbitration of the border dispute.[8]

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 granted her safe passage to visit him, perhaps to try opening peace negotiations. In 1208, Alfonso yielded on the claim.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11] 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.[12] 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.[13]

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.[14]

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 went sick and died only twenty-six days after her husband, and was buried at Abbey of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas.[15]


Name Birth Death Notes
Berengaria Burgos,
1 January/
June 1180
Las Huelgas near Burgos,
8 November 1246
Married firstly in Seligenstadt on 23 April 1188 with Duke Conrad II of Swabia, but the union (only by contract and never solemnized) was later annulled. Married in Valladolid between 1/16 December 1197 with King Alfonso IX of León as his second wife.[16] After their marriage was dissolved on grounds of consanguinity in 1204, she returned to her homeland and became regent of her minor brother King Henry I. Queen of Castile in her own right after the death of Henry I in 1217, quickly abdicated in favour of her son Ferdinand III of Castile who would re-unite the kingdoms of Castile and León.
Sancho Burgos,
5 April 1181
26 July 1181 Robert of Torigny records the birth "circa Pascha" in 1181 of "filium Sancius" to "Alienor filia regis Anglorum uxor Anfulsi regis de Castella".[17] "Aldefonsus...Rex Castellæ et Toleti...cum uxore mea Alienor Regina et cum filio meo Rege Sancio" donated property to the bishop of Segovia by charter dated 31 May 1181.[18] "Adefonsus...Rex Castellæ et Toleti...cum uxore mea Alienor Regina et cum filio meo Rege Sancio" donated property to the monastery of Rocamador by charter dated 13 July 1181.[19]
Sancha 20/28 March 1182 3 February 1184/
16 October 1185
King Alfonso VIII "cum uxore mea Alionor regina et cum filiabus meis Berengaria et Sancia Infantissis" exchanged property with the Templars by charter dated 26 January 1183.[20]
Henry before July 1182 before January 1184 The dating clause of a charter dated July 1182 records "regnante el Rey D. Alfonso...con su mugier Doña Lionor, con su fijo D. Anric".[21] The dating of the document in which his sister Sancha is named suggests that they may have been twins.
Ferdinand before January 1184 Died young, ca. 1184? The dating clause of a charter dated January 1184 ("V Kal Feb Era 1222") records "regnante rege Alfonso cum uxore sua regina Eleonor et filio suo Fernando".[22]
Urraca 1186/
28 May 1187
3 November 1220
Married in 1206 to Infante dom Afonso of Portugal, who succeeded his father as King Afonso II on 26 March 1212.
Blanche Palencia,
4 March 1188
27 November 1252
Married on 23 May 1200 to Prince Louis of France, who succeeded his father as King Louis VIII on 14 July 1223. Crowned Queen at Saint-Denis with her husband on 6 August 1223. Regent of the Kingdom of France during 1226–1234 (minority of her son) and during 1248–1252 (absence of her son on Crusade).
Ferdinand Cuenca,
29 September 1189
14 October 1211
Heir of the throne since his birth. On whose behalf Diego of Acebo and the future Saint Dominic travelled to Denmark in 1203 to secure a bride.[23] Ferdinand was returning through the San Vicente mountains from a campaign against the Muslims when he contracted a fever and died.[24]
Mafalda Plasencia,
Szabolcs de Vajay says that she "died at the point of becoming the fiancée of the Infante Fernando of León" (without citing the primary source on which this information is based) and refers to her burial at Salamanca Cathedral.[25] Betrothed in 1204 to Infante Ferdinand of Leon, eldest son of Alfonso IX and stepson of her oldest sister.
Eleanor 1200[26] Las Huelgas,
Married on 6 February 1221 with King James I of Aragon. They became separated on April 1229 on grounds of consanguinity.
Constance c. 1202[26] Las Huelgas,
A nun at the Cistercian monastery of Santa María la Real at Las Huelgas in 1217, she became known as the Lady of Las Huelgas, a title shared with later royal family members who joined the community.[26]
Henry Valladolid,
14 April 1204
6 June 1217
Only surviving son, he succeeded his father in 1214 aged ten under the regency firstly of his mother and later his oldest sister. He was killed when he was struck by a tile falling from a roof.

Later Depictions

Eleanor was praised for her beauty and regal nature by the poet Ramón Vidal de Besalú after her death.[27] Her great-grandson Alfonso X referred to her as "noble and much loved".[28]

Eleanor was played by Ida Norden in the silent film The Jewess of Toledo.[29]


Ancestors of Eleanor of England, Queen of Castile
16. Fulk IV, Count of Anjou
8. Fulk of Jerusalem
17. Bertrade de Montfort
4. Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou
18. Elias I, Count of Maine
9. Ermengarde of Maine
19. Matilda de Château-du-Loir
2. Henry II of England
20. William I of England
10. Henry I of England
21. Matilda of Flanders
5. Matilda of England
22. Malcolm III of Scotland
11. Matilda of Scotland
23. Margaret of Wessex
1. Eleanor of England, Queen of Castile
24. William VIII, Duke of Aquitaine
12. William IX, Duke of Aquitaine
25. Hildegarde of Burgundy
6. William X, Duke of Aquitaine
26. William IV, Count of Toulouse
13. Philippa of Toulouse
27. Emma of Mortain
3. Eleanor of Aquitaine
28. Boson II, Viscount of Châtellerault
14. Aimery I, Viscount of Châtellerault
29. Alienor de Thouars
7. Aenor de Châtellerault
30. Barthelemy, Seigneur de L'Isle Bouchard
15. Dangerose de l'Isle Bouchard
31. Gerberge de Blaison


  1. ^ Historians are divided in their use of the terms "Plantagenet" and "Angevin" for Henry II and his sons. Some classify Henry II as the first Plantagenet King of England; others place Henry, Richard and John in the Angevin dynasty, and consider Henry III to be the first Plantagenet ruler.


  1. ^ a b c Vann 1993, p. 128.
  2. ^ Annales Compostellani
  3. ^ Fraser 2000.
  4. ^ Crónica Latina, Anales Toledanos
  5. ^ Cerda 2012.
  6. ^ José Manuel Cerda, The marriage of Alfonso VIII of Castile and Leonor Plantagenet: the first bond between Spain and England in the Middle Ages
  7. ^ Gillingham 2005.
  8. ^ Shadis 2010, p. 25-31.
  9. ^ Shadis 2010, p. 31-32.
  10. ^ Wheeler & Parsons 2002.
  11. ^ Shadis 2010, p. 27-30.
  12. ^ Shadis 2010, p. 38-39.
  13. ^ Mila y Fontanels 1966, p. 112.
  14. ^ Shadis 2010, p. 35-41.
  15. ^ Arco y Garay, Ricardo (1954): Sepulcros de la Casa Real de Castilla. Madrid: Instituto Jerónimo Zurita. Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, p. 248.
  16. ^ New International Encyclopedia, Vol.13, (Dodd, Mead and Company, 1915), 782.
  17. ^ Robert de Torigny, Vol. II, pp. 103–4.
  18. ^ Colmenares, D. de (1846): Historia de Segovia (Segovia), Tomo I, p. 268.
  19. ^ Berganza, F. de: Antiguedades de España (1721) Secunda parte, Appendice CLIII, p. 466.
  20. ^ Castan Lanaspa, G. (1984): San Nicolás del Real Camino, un Hospital de Leprosos Castellano-Leones en la Edad Media (Siglos XII-XIV), Publicaciones de la Institución Tello Téllez de Meneses, no. 2, p. 136.
  21. ^ Berganza, F. de: Antiguedades de España (1721) Secunda parte, Appendice CLVI, p. 468.
  22. ^ Florez, H. (1770): Memorias de las reynas cathólicas, 2nd edn. Tomo I, p. 409, quoting Archivo de Arlanza letra S. n. 428, and Nuñez Alfonso VIII, p. 140.
  23. ^ Vicaire, pp. 89–98.
  24. ^ Osma 1997, p. 55-56, vol.20.
  25. ^ Szabolcs de Vajay (1989): From Alfonso VII to Alfonso X, the first two centuries of the Burgundian dynasty in Castile and Leon – a prosopographical catalogue in social genealogy, 1100–1300, Studies in Genealogy and Family History in tribute to Charles Evans, edited Lindsay L Brook (Association for the Promotion of Scholarship in Genealogy Ltd, Occasional Publication no 2), pp. 379 and 406, note 72, quoting Arco y Garay (1954), p. 246.
  26. ^ a b c Shadis 2010, p. 4.
  27. ^ Mila y Fontanels 1966, p. 126.
  28. ^ Shadis 2010, p. 48.
  29. ^ Eleanor of England, Queen of Castile on IMDb


  • Cerda, José Manuel (2011), La dot gasconne d'Aliénor d'Angleterre. Entre royaume de Castille, royaume de France et royaume d'Angleterre, Cahiers de civilisation médiévale, ISSN 0007-9731, Vol. 54, Nº 215, 2011.
  • Cerda, José Manuel (2012). "Leonor Plantagenet y la consolidación castellana en el reinado de Alfonso VIII". Anuario de Estudios Medievales. 42.2. ISSN 0066-5061.
  • Cerda, José Manuel (2016), Matrimonio y patrimonio. La carta de arras de Leonor Plantagenet, reina consorte de Castilla, Anuario de Estudios Medievales, vol. 2.
  • Cerda, José Manuel (2016), Leonor Plantagenet and the cult of Thomas Becket in Castile, The cult of St Thomas Becket in the Plantagenet World, ed. P. Webster and M.P. Gelin, Boydell Press.
  • Cerda, José Manue (2013), The marriage of Alfonso VIII of Castile and Leonor Plantagenet : the first bond between Spain and England in the Middle Ages, Les stratégies matrimoniales dans l’aristocratie (xe-xiiie siècles), ed. Martin Aurell.
  • Fraser, Antonia (2000). The Middle Ages, A Royal History of England. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-22799-9.
  • Gillingham, John (2005). "Events and Opinions: Norman and English Views of Aquitaine, c.1152–c.1204". In Bull, Marcus; Léglu, Catherine. The World of Eleanor of Aquitaine: Literature and Society in Southern France between the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries. Woodbridge: Boydell Press. ISBN 1-84383-114-7.
  • Mila y Fontanels, Manuel (1966). "De los trovadores en España". In Martinez, C.; Manrique, F. R. Obras de Manuel Mila y Fontanels. 2. CSIC, Barcelona.
  • Osma, Juan (1997). "Chronica latina regum Castellae". In Brea, Luis Charlo. Chronica Hispana Saeculi XIII. Turnhout: Brepols.
  • Rada Jiménez, Rodrigo. Historia de los hechos de España.
  • Shadis, Miriam (2010). Berenguela of Castile (1180–1246) and Political Women in the High Middle Ages. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-312-23473-7.
  • Vann, Theresa M., ed. (1993). Queens, Regents and Potentates. Vol. I. Boydell Press.
  • Wheeler, Bonnie; Parsons, John Carmi (2002). Eleanor of Aquitaine: Lord and Lady. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0-230-60236-3.

External links

Spanish royalty
Preceded by
Richeza of Poland
Queen consort of Castile
Succeeded by
Mafalda of Portugal

Year 1162 (MCLXII) was a common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.


Year 1214 (MCCXIV) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.

Anne of Gloucester

Anne of Gloucester, Countess of Stafford (30 April 1383 – 16 October 1438) was the eldest daughter of Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester, and Eleanor de Bohun.

Astudillo, Palencia

Astudillo is a Spanish municipality in the autonomous community of Castilla y León belonging to the province of Palencia. It is located 29 km northeast of the provincial capital, and has 1,106 inhabitants (2011) with an area of 122.95 km².

Beatrice of England

Beatrice of England (25 June 1242 – 24 March 1275) was a member of the House of Plantagenet, the daughter of Henry III of England and Eleanor of Provence.


Eleanor (usually pronounced in North America but elsewhere; short form Leonor and variants) is a feminine given name. It was the name of a number of women of the high nobility in Western Europe during the High Middle Ages, originally from a Provençal name Aliénor.

In modern times, the name was popularly given in the United States in the 1910s to 1920s, peaking at rank 25 in 1920. It declined below rank 600 by the 1970s, but has again risen above rank 150 in the early 2010s.Common hypocorisms include Ella, Ellie, Elly, Leonor, Leonora, Leonore, Nell, Nella, Nellie, Nelly, Nora (name), etc.

Eleanor of Castile (disambiguation)

Leonora of Castile or Eleanor of Castile may refer to:

Eleanor of England, Queen of Castile (1162–1214), wife of Alfonso VIII, who brought the name into the Castilian Royal Dynasty

Eleanor of Castile (died 1244), queen consort of Aragon, wife of James I of Aragon

Eleanor of Castile (1241–1290), queen consort England, wife of Edward I, daughter of Ferdinand III of Castile and Joan, Countess of Ponthieu

Eleanor of Castile (1307–1359), queen consort of Aragon, wife of Alfonso IV of Aragon, daughter of Ferdinand IV of Castile

Eleanor of Aragon, Queen of Castile (1358–1382), wife of John I of Castile, daughter of Peter IV of Aragon and Eleanor of Sicily

Eleanor of Castile, Queen of Navarre (fl. 1363–1416), queen consort of Navarre, wife of Charles III, daughter of Henry II of Castile, mother of Blanche of Navarre

Eleanor of Austria (1498–1558), wife of Manuel I of Portugal and Francis I of France, daughter of Joanna of Castile and Philip the Handsome of Austria-Burgundy

Eleanor of England, Countess of Leicester

Eleanor of England (also called Eleanor Plantagenet and Eleanor of Leicester) (1215 – 13 April 1275) was the youngest child of John, King of England and Isabella of Angoulême.

Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany

Geoffrey II (Breton: Jafrez; Latin: Galfridus, Anglo-Norman: Geoffroy; 23 September 1158 – 19 August 1186) was Duke of Brittany and 3rd Earl of Richmond between 1181 and 1186, through his marriage with the heiress Constance. Geoffrey was the fourth of five sons of Henry II, King of England and Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine.

Henry I of Castile

Henry I of Castile (14 April 1204 – 6 June 1217) was king of Castile. He was the son of Alfonso VIII of Castile and Eleanor of England, Queen of Castile (daughter of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine).In 1211 Henry became heir to the throne when his older brother Ferdinand suddenly died.

When his father died in 1214 Henry was just 10 years old so the regency was assumed by Henry's older sister Berengaria of Castile, wife of Alfonso IX of Leon.

In 1215 Henry married Mafalda of Portugal, daughter of Sancho I of Portugal. As he was very young, the marriage was not consummated, and it was dissolved in 1216 by Pope Innocent III on grounds of consanguinity. In the same year, Henry became betrothed to his second cousin Sancha, heiress of León.Henry died in Palencia in 1217 at the age of 13, killed by a tile coming off a roof. His sister Berengaria succeeded him, before renouncing the throne in favour of her son Ferdinand III. His body was interred at Las Huelgas monastery in Burgos.

Joan of England, Queen of Scotland

Joan of England (22 July 1210 – 4 March 1238), was Queen consort of Scotland from 1221 until her death. She was the third child of John, King of England and Isabella of Angoulême.

John of Eltham, Earl of Cornwall

John of Eltham, 1st Earl of Cornwall (15 August 1316 – 13 September 1336) was the second son of Edward II of England and Isabella of France. He was heir apparent to the English throne until the birth of his nephew Edward, the Black Prince.

John of Gloucester

John of Gloucester (or John of Pontefract) (died 1499?) was a son of King Richard III of England. John is so called because his father was Duke of Gloucester at the time of his birth. His father appointed him Captain of Calais, a position he lost after his father's death. He seems to have been held in custody at some point during the reign of Henry VII and may have been executed around 1499.

Louis I, Duke of Bourbon

Louis I, called the Lame (1279 – 22 January 1341) was Count of Clermont-en-Beauvaisis and La Marche and the first Duke of Bourbon.

Margaret Wake, 3rd Baroness Wake of Liddell

Margaret Wake, suo jure 3rd Baroness Wake of Liddell and Countess of Kent (c. 1297 – 19 September 1349) was the wife of Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent, the youngest surviving son of Edward I of England and Margaret of France.

Philip of Cognac

Philip of Cognac (early 1180s – after 1201) was an illegitimate son of Richard the Lionheart, King of England, by an unidentified mother.

Philip had reached adulthood by the end of the 1190s. His father married him to his ward, Amelia, the heiress of Cognac, France, in Charente. However, when she died without issue, Richard kept the castle, and handed it over to his seneschal, Robert of Thornham.

The king was mortally wounded during the suppression of a revolt by Viscount Aimar V of Limoges in 1199, and died without legitimate heirs. The chronicler Roger of Howden claimed that later that same year,Philip, illegitimate son of King Richard of England, to whom the aforesaid king his father had granted the castle and honour of Cognac, slew the previously mentioned Viscount of Limoges in vengeance for his father."

No other source corroborates this, or explicitly indicates that Aimar of Limoges's death was a violent one. However, Guiraut de Bornelh's planh (lament) for him, Planc e sospir, does suggest his death was unexpected.

A further reference to Philip is found in the Pipe Rolls for 1201 of his uncle, John, King of England: "Et Philippo f. R. Ricardi 1 m. de dono R." ("And to Philip, son of King Richard, one mark as a gift"), but nothing later. It seems likely that he died early in the 13th century.

Philippa, 5th Countess of Ulster

Philippa of Clarence (16 August 1355 – 5 January 1382) was the suo jure Countess of Ulster.

The Jewess of Toledo (film)

The Jewess of Toledo (German:Die Jüdin von Toledo) is a 1919 Austrian silent historical drama film directed by Otto Kreisler and starring Franz Höbling, Ida Norden and Thea Rosenquist. It is an adaptation of the 1872 play The Jewess of Toledo by Franz Grillparzer which was based on the relationship between Alfonso VIII of Castile and Rahel la Fermosa in 12th Century Spain.

William IX, Count of Poitiers

William (17 August 1153 – April 1156) was the first son of Henry II, King of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine. He was born in Normandy on the same day that his father's rival, Eustace IV of Boulogne, died.

William died in April 1156, aged two. This was due to a seizure at Wallingford Castle, and he was buried in Reading Abbey at the feet of his great-grandfather Henry I.

At the time of his death, William was reigning as Count of Poitiers, as his mother had ceded the county to him. For centuries, the dukes of Aquitaine had held this as one of their minor titles, so it had passed to Eleanor from her father; giving it to her son was effectively a revival of the title, separating it from the duchy. Some authorities say he also held the title of "Archbishop of York", but this is probably an error. His half-brother Geoffrey (died 1212), who was born a year before William, later held that office, causing the confusion.

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