Tuesday, October 4, 2016

King Edward I Plantagenet

This is supposedly King Edward I. It hangs in Westminster Abbey in England.

One of our Dillon ancestors was King Edward I Plantagenet of England. His nickname was “Longshanks,” and I googled to see why he was given this nickname. I discovered it was because he was tall: 6’2” to be exact. That physical attribute did not carry on down through the years. If you remember correctly, Grandpa, Enoch Ray Dillon, was a short man, as were his siblings, and even some of his descendants are “fun size!” (Apparently the long legs made it easy for Edward to ride horses and his long arms made it easy for him to use a sword!)

King Edward was the son of King Henry III Plantagenet and Lady Eleanor Berrenger. He was born in the year 1239 and married Eleanor de Castile, in 1252. She was born in 1240. What? No, you read that correctly. She was 12 when they married and he was 13, according to these dates. One source cites that he was 15 and she was 9 years old when they married. Either way, that is ridiculously young. It was a politically arranged marriage but the young couple developed a deep and abiding love for one another. (I’ve seen three different ages and dates for their marriage in three different credible sources.)

Eleanor  de Castile, Queen Consort of King Edward I

In 1270, Eleanor joined Edward on a crusade to the Holy Land. While in Palestine, she saved his life when he was poisoned in an assassination attempt by sucking the poison from his wound. Edward’s father, King Henry III, died while Edward and Eleanor were in the Holy Land. They then returned to England and he was crowned King Edward I in 1272.

This royal couple was reported to have 13 children and maybe as many as 16. Katherine, Joan, Beatrice, Isabella, Juliana and two unnamed children died as infants; John was 5 years old; Henry was 7 years old; Alfonso was 11 years old; and Berengaria was about 2 years old when they died. One daughter, Mary, became a Benedictine nun.  

Eleanor died in Nottinghamshire on a trip to Scotland to join Edward; she was 50 years old. Edward was so bereaved at her death that he ordered crosses to be built at each stop her funeral procession made during the journey back to London. There are 3 of 12 “Eleanor crosses” remaining.

I tell this story because of the sadness they must have had in their marriage, their ages when they married and the love they had for one another. There is much more to the story of King Edward I and Eleanor but this part touched me. There is a comprehensive report on King Edward’s life, his reign and his character on Wikepedia. Some of my information came from that report but mostly it came from lots of reading and research. 

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