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Early April - a bad time of year for Eleanor of Castile

(The tomb of Eleanor's children: Copyright Westminster Abbey)

Some people have times of year that just seem to be plain unlucky for them. It looks to me like early April was a bit that way for Eleanor of Castile:

In early April 1264 Edward sneaked away from camp to visit Eleanor shortly before the Barons' War was finally to break out, and the pair said their farewell before what they knew would be a dangerous separation. It was perhaps more so than they feared: he would be taken prisoner at Evesham, and she was not to see him again for over a year, during which time he came near to death in captivity. Meanwhile as a result of the fond farewell Eleanor was left pregnant ...

In early April the next year Eleanor was at another low point. After Evesham she herself had been taken into effective captivity. Her first surviving daughter had died, she had borne the second daughter "Joan 1" alone - and that baby too had died a short while later. And by April 1265 all her lands had been seized by the Montfortian party, leaving Eleanor to borrow money from the Montfortian stalwart Hugh Despenser (I always suspect Eleanor's later extortion of a tidy sum from Despenser's son must have been a great satisfaction to her ...)

On 2 April 1272 Richard of Cornwall, Henry III's brother, who had been a close support to Edward and Eleanor, had taken charge of their children when they went on crusade, and had very possibly assisted Eleanor in understanding the principles of modern C13 land management (in which they shared a keen interest) died.

In early April 1275 Eleanor was having to get herself ready, after a hectic year and a recent childbirth to go straight back out on royal progress; if she either barely found time for the traditional 28 days lying in after Margaret's birth, or cut the period short to be up and doing again.

In early April 1279 Eleanor (again laying in after a birth) had to face a bishop's enquiry into the marriage of her lady Amice de Weston (who had eloped with another member of ELeanor's household); and within days news reached her of her mother's death.

Meanwhile Alfonso X, Eleanor's beloved brother was also to die in early April - this time in 1284, on 4 April. At the same time Eleanor was awaiting the birth of her final child in a building site which would later become Caernarfon Castle.

And in 1286 it is in April that we see the early signs of the illness which was to kill Eleanor herself, with medicines being sent for.

On 6 April 1287 Edward was involved in a building collapse which killed three of his men, and left him with a broken collarbone, and in early April 1289 Eleanor was ill again, with her doctor buying a silver vessel "in which to place the queen's syrups".

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