Berengaria (Castilian: Berenguela) (1 June 1180 – 8 November 1246) was Queen regnant of Castile in 1217 and Queen consort of León from 1197 to 1204.

The eldest daughter of King Alfonso VIII of Castile and his wife, Eleanor of England, she was the great-granddaughter of another Berengaria, the wife of Alfonso VII of León and sister of Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Barcelona. In the maternal line she was the granddaughter of King Henry II of England and another important woman of the age, Eleanor of Aquitaine.

At the time of her birth, Berengaria was the only child of the king and queen, as those born earlier had not survived. Therefore she was the heir apparent to the throne of Castile, and hence a greatly desired party in all of Europe.

Berengaria’s first engagement was agreed in 1187 when her hand was sought by Conrad, Duke of Rothenburg and fifth child of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa. The next year, in Seligenstadt, Germany, the marriage contract was signed. Conrad then marched to Castile, where in Carrión the engagement was celebrated and the young count was knighted.

The marriage was not consummated, at first due to Berengaria’s age and later because the king and queen, in 1189, had a son, Ferdinand, who was then designated heir to the throne. At this, Emperor Frederick, seeing his aspirations in Castile frustrated, lost all interest in continuing with his son’s wedding in spite of the princess’s dowry of 42,000 aureos. Conrad and Berengaria never saw each other again. Berengaria requested an annulment of the engagement from the Pope, influenced, no doubt, by third parties such as her grandmother Eleanor of Aquitaine, who was not interested in having a Hohenstaufen as a neighbor to her French fiefdoms. But those fears would later be neutralized when the duke was assassinated in 1196.

Two years later, Berengaria married King Alfonso IX of León, her first cousin once removed, in Valladolid. They had five children:

 Berengaria (1198–1235), married John of Brienne, King of Jerusalem;
 Constance (1200–1242), a nun in the Abbey of las Huelgas;
 Ferdinand III (1201–1252), King of Castile and León;
 Eleanor (1202);
 Alfonso (1203–1272), Lord of Molina and Mesa by his first marriage. He married, first, Mafalda de Lara, heiress of Molina and Mesa, second, Teresa Núñez, and third, Mayor Téllez de Meneses, Lady of Montealegre and Tiedra, by whom he was the father of María of Molina, wife of King Sancho IV of León and Castile.

But in 1204, Pope Innocent III annulled the marriage on the grounds of consanguinity, despite the fact that Celestine III had permitted it at the time. This was the second annulment for Berengaria as well as for Alfonso, and they vehemently sought a dispensation in order to stay together. But this pope was one of the harshest on matrimonial issues and denied their request, although they succeeded in having their children considered legitimate. Her marriage dissolved, Berengaria returned to Castile and to her parents, where she dedicated herself to the care of her children.

On the death of Alfonso VIII in 1214, the crown passed to his heir prince Henry (third and sole surviving son of the late king), who was only ten years old. Thus began a period of regency, first under the young king’s mother, lasting 24 days until her own death, and then under his sister and heir presumptive Berengaria.

At this point internal strife began, instigated by the nobility, primarily the House of Lara. This forced Berengaria to cede guardianship of the king and the regency of the realm to Count Álvaro Núñez de Lara in order to avoid civil conflict in Castile.

In February, 1216, an extraordinary parliamentary session was held in Valladolid, attended by such Castilian magnates as Lope Diaz de Haro, Gonzalo Rodríguez Girón, Álvaro Díaz de Cameros, Alfonso Téllez de Meneses and others, who agreed, with the support of Berengaria, to make common cause against Álvaro Núñez de Lara. At the end of May the situation in Castile had grown perilous for Berengaria, so she decided to take refuge in the castle of Autillo in Palencia, which was held by Gonzalo Rodríguez Girón (one of her allies) and sent her son Ferdinand to the court of León and his father, Alfonso IX. On 15 August 1216 an assembly of all the magnates of Castile was held to attempt to reach an accord that would prevent civil war, but disagreements led the families of Girón, Téllez de Meneses, and Haro to break definitively with Álvaro de Lara.

Circumstances changed suddenly when Henry died on 6 June 1217 after receiving a head wound from a tile which came loose accidentally while he was playing with some other children at the palace of the Bishop of Palencia. His guardian, Count Álvaro Núñez de Lara, tried to hide the fact, taking the king’s body to the castle of Tariego, although it was inevitable that the news should reach Berengaria.

The new sovereign was well aware of the danger her former husband posed to her reign; being her brother's closest agnate, it was feared that he would claim the crown for himself. Therefore, she kept her brother's death and her own accession secret from Alfonso before finally abdicating in their son's favour on 31 August.

Although she did not wish to be queen, Berengaria was always at her son’s side as an adviser, intervening in state policy, albeit in an indirect manner.

In this way she arranged the marriage of his son with princess Elisabeth of Hohenstaufen (known as Beatriz in Castile), daughter of Duke Philip of Swabia and granddaughter of two emperors: Frederick Barbarossa and Isaac II Angelos of Byzantium. This union with such an important family improved the lineage of the Castilian monarchy and opened the way for Ferdinand to participate actively in European affairs. The wedding took place on 30 November 1219.

Another instance in which Berengaria’s mediation stood out developed in 1218 when the scheming Lara family, still headed by former regent Álvaro Núñez de Lara, conspired to have Alfonso IX, King of León and King Ferdinand's father, invade Castile to seize his son's throne. However, the death of Count Lara facilitated the intervention of Berengaria, who got father and son to sign the Pact of Toro on 26 August 1218, putting an end to confrontations between Castile and León.

In 1222, Berengaria intervened anew in favor of her son, achieving the ratification of the Convention of Zafra, thereby making peace with the Laras by arranging the marriage of Mafalda, daughter and heiress of the Lord of Molina, Gonzalo Pérez de Lara, to her own son and King Ferdinand’s brother, Alfonso.

In 1224 she arranged the marriage of her daughter Berengaria to John of Brienne, a maneuver which brought Ferdinand III closer to the throne of León, since John was the candidate Alfonso IX had in mind to marry his eldest daughter Sancha. By proceeding more quickly, Berengaria prevented the daughters of her former husband from marrying a man who could claim the throne of León.

But perhaps her most decisive intervention on Ferdinand’s behalf took place in 1230, when Alfonso IX died and designated as heirs to the throne his daughters Sancha and Dulce from his first marriage to Theresa of Portugal, superseding the rights of Ferdinand III. Berengaria met with the princesses’ mother and succeeded in the ratification of the Treaty of las Tercerías, by which they renounced the throne in favor of their half-brother in exchange for a substantial sum of money and other benefits. Thus were the thrones of León and Castile united in the person of Ferdinand III.

She intervened again in the second marriage of Ferdinand after the death of Elisabeth of Hohenstaufen, although they had had plenty of children, but with the aim that the king’s virtue not be diminished with illicit relations. This time, she chose a French noblewoman, Joan of Dammartin, a candidate put forth by the king’s aunt and Berengaria's sister Blanche, widow of King Louis VIII of France.

Berengaria behaved like an actual queen while her son Ferdinand was in the south, on his long campaigns of the Reconquista. She governed Castile and León with the skill that always characterized her, assuring him that she had his back well covered. She met with her son a final time in Pozuelo de Calatrava in 1245, afterwards returning to Castile, where she died the next year.

She is portrayed as a virtuous woman by the chroniclers of the time. She was a protectress of monasteries and personally supervised the work on both Burgos and Toledo Cathedrals. Moreover, she was also concerned with literature, charging Lucas de Tuy to compose a chronicle on the Kings of Castile and León, and she herself being mentioned in the works of Rodrigo Jiménez de Rada.
Show all items in this set…

Similar Styles

  • Miadora Sterling Silver Green Amethyst and Diamond Accent Cocktail Ring
    More info
    An oval checkerboard-cut green amethyst centers this cocktail ring, inlaid with diamond accent stones along the stylized bezel. Pave-set white stones form channels along the side cutouts of the band, made from highly polished sterling silver for a durable, long-lasting design. Wear this elegant ring with casual or dressy ensembles for a sophisticated, sparkling accent. Gemstone colors: Green Gemstone shapes: Oval One bezel-set oval-cut green amethyst measures 10 mm wide x 12 mm long Total gemstone weight: 4 carats Diamonds: 10 Diamond cut: Round Diamond weight: 0.05 carat Color: H-I Clarity: I2-I3 Setting: Pave Metal: Sterling silver Finish: High polish Metal weight: 4.8 grams Ring setting dimensions: 21 mm wide x 16.1 mm long x 7.1 mm deep Band dimensions: 1.8 mm wide Diamond total weight: 0.05* carat TW All weights and measurements are approximate and may vary slightly from the listed information. *T.W. (total weight) may vary and is a minimum of 0.045 carat. Treatment code E (green amethyst) and N (white diamonds). See Treatment Guide for further information. Click here for ring sizing guide This ring cannot be resized. Size: 7. Color: Green. Gender: Female. Age Group: Adult.
  • 14k Yellow Gold Stilnovo Disc Pendant Necklace
    More info
    Bring a subtle touch of glamour to your collar with this gorgeous Silnovo disk pendant necklace. Beautifully crafted of warm 14-karat yellow gold, this lovely pendant hangs on an 18-inch gold cable chain held together by a lobster claw clasp. Metal: 14k yellow gold Style: Pendant Finish: Textured Chain: Cable Chain length: 18 inches Clasp: Lobster claw Metal weight: 4.0 grams Pendant dimensions: 30 mm wide x 30 mm long x .7 mm thick Necklace dimensions: 1.1 mm x 18 inches All weights and measurements are approximate and may vary slightly from the listed information. Size: 18 Inch. Color: Yellow. Gender: Female. Age Group: Adult.
  • Amazing Costume Sets
    Collection
  • Pre-owned Alexander Wang Freja Black Boots
    More info
    Rare. Covered block heel measures approximately 115mm/ 4.5 inches with a 10mm/ 0.5 inch platform. Suede/Leather. Black eel trim, snap-fastening fold-over layered cuff with silver zipper trim, back pull tab, lace and eyelet detail with wrap-around laces, eyelet detail at inner cuff, open almond toe. Zip fastening through front. Shaft can be worn folded down or closed. *Seen on Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus, Cheryl Cole, etc. Celebrities' all time favorite. Will never go out of style!
  • Tapestries, Ltd Olde World Crest Black Tapestry
    bellacor.com
    This heraldic crest bears the Latin saying, "Only Virtue Unconquered", displayed on a subtle fleur de lis background. 53% Polyester, 21% Cotton, 18% Viscose, 8% Pp. From Belgium. Tapestry comes with rod pocket and hooks. Rod, finials and tassels not included. Images are Copyright 2001 2008 by the owner and creator of the images. All rights reserved. Reproduction in part or whole is prohibited
  • 14k Yellow Gold Stilnovo Tear Drop Pendant Necklace
    More info
    Adorn your collar with the unique beauty of this chic necklace. Masterfully crafted of warm 14-karat yellow gold, this 18-inch necklace showcases a stunning twisted Stilnovo pendent suspended from a wide bail, held together by a lobster claw clasp. Metal: 14k yellow gold Style: Pendant Finish: Textured Chain: Cable Chain length: 18 inches Clasp: Lobster claw Metal weight: 3.7 grams Pendant dimensions: 20 mm wide x 45 mm long x .7 mm thick Necklace dimensions: 1.1 mm x 18 inches All weights and measurements are approximate and may vary slightly from the listed information. Size: 18 Inch. Color: Yellow. Gender: Female. Age Group: Adult.
  • Savvy Cie Las Olas Two-Tone Green Amethyst Ring
    More info
    Black and white rhodium plated prong set green amethyst ring with faceted white diamond accents Approx. 14mm band width. Imported Please note: Diamond weight may not be exact. Please note your order will be shipped directly from the brand. Orders cannot be shipped to Australia, Canada, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico or P.O. Boxes. Materials: 18K yellow gold, black and white rhodium plated sterling silver, white diamonds 0.10 ctw, green amethyst 3.80 ctw. Care: Wipe with Andrea Candela silver polishing cotton cloth.
  • Pure Country Weavers Portieve Du Char Large Woven Wall Tapestry
    bellacor.com
    French Regal Shield Primary Color: Brown Cotton And Wool Note: Tassels and Rods Are Not Included
  • SKECHERS Grand Jams - Unlimited (Black Suede) Women's Boots
    More info
    You'll be lookin' hot in these smokin' SKECHERS boots! Half-zip closure with lace-up front. Suede upper with faux-fur trim. For best winter wear, pretreat the suede before wearing in rain or snow. Fold-over cuff that can be worn up or down. Faux-fur lining. Lightly cushioned man-made footbed. Rubber sole. Measurements: Heel Height: 1 1 4 in Weight: 1 lb 7 oz Circumference: 16 1 4 in Shaft: 11 3 4 in Product measurements were taken using size 9.5, width B - Medium. Please note that measurements may vary by size.
  • Toni Pons 'Benin' Wedge Boot, 2 1/4" heel
    More info
    Sleek, uncomplicated lines define a lush suede boot lifted by a low wedge and platform. Brand: Toni Pons. Style Name: Toni Pons 'Benin' Wedge Boot (Women). Style Number: 5003379. 2 1/4" heel (size 39); 15" boot shaft; 14" calf circumference; Full-length side-zip closure; Suede upper/leather lining/synthetic sole; By Toni Pons; imported
  • Betty Carre Blue Calcite Square Ring
    More info
    The blue calcite square ring has a timeless design. The faceted blue stone stands above the band in a low-profile setting with cutout side details. The brushed 18k gold plate band is also crafted with an ornate pattern.
  • Gallery Direct Lion Triptych Art
    overstock.com
    Lion Triptych Art is printed over three separate gallery wrapped canvases that each come ready to hang. Offered in two different sizes, each set measures either 30 inches high x 84 inches wide or 40 inches high x 111 inches wide overallperfect to hang over a couch, sideboard or any large stretch of bare wall. This is surely a statement piece. Artist: Mike Liu Title: Lion Product type: Canvas gallery wrap Available Sizes: Large or extra large Size of each canvas: 30 inches high x 28 inches wide (Large) or 40 inches high x 37 inches wide (Extra large) Overall Size: 30 inches high x 84 inches wide (Large) or 40 inches high x 111 inches wide (Extra large) Stretcher Bar Size: 1.5 inches high x 0.5 inches wide Size: XL.
  • 10K Gold Butterfly Heart Pendant Necklace
    More info
    10K gold open filigree butterfly detail heart pendant necklace Spring ring closure. Approx. 18" chain length. Approx. 0.75" pendant length. Imported. Materials: 10K gold. Care: Wipe with a soft cloth.

Love this look? Get more styling ideas

Continue
×
About