Two very bad Septembers: 1264 and 1265

I'm interrupting my geographical tour to mark two losses which Eleanor suffered in the early days of two successive Septembers.

The first occurred at what must have been one of the lowest points of Eleanor's life. In May 1264 Edward had been taken prisoner at the Battle of Lewes. On 17 June Eleanor had had to surrender Windsor Castle to the rebels. From then, until some time after the bettle of Evesham on 4 August 1265 she too was in effect a prisoner, very possibly in company with Henry III for some of the time.

On 5 September of that year worse, however was to come. Katherine, her first surviving daughter, who was probably about three years old, died. The location of her death is unknown. Henry III was at Canterbury, and Eleanor may well have been with him. The fact that her burial expenses at Westminster Abbey were not recorded until early October may suggest this.

And while the next year brought a reversal of fortune, with Edward's crushing vistory at Evesham, September brought not just the anniversary of Katherine's death, it also brought a fresh loss. In January Eleanor, still in captivity, had given birth to another daughter; this time named Joan - probably for Eleanor's mother Jeanne, Countes of Ponthieu. The birth may well have been hard, since Eleanor required medical attention in the month after the birth. And little Joan never reached her first birthday - indeed may never even have met her father. She died in early September, with Henry III ordering a gold cloth for her tomb in Westminster Abbey on 7 September, shortly after her death. His emphasis on the cloth being good and beautiful may suggest that the captive Henry had spent time with his new granddaughter and that the loss hit him, too, hard.

CClR 1264-68 pp 70-1.png

The location where the two girls now lie - with Alphonso and the other lost children of Eleanor and Edward, and Henry III and Eleanor of Provence is pictured on the book ...


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