10 April, 2015

Marriage Negotiations between England and Aragon in Edward II's Reign

A post about the marriage negotiations between the kingdoms of England and Aragon in Edward II's reign, none of which resulted in any actual marriages.

Edward II was himself half-Castilian, and in the 1320s negotiated a future marriage between his elder daughter Eleanor of Woodstock (b. 1318) and his first cousin twice removed Alfonso XI (b. 1311, succeeded his father Fernando IV as a baby in 1312).  His elder son Edward of Windsor was also betrothed to Alfonso XI's sister Leonor.  These marriages, of course, did not go ahead; Edward of Windsor married Philippa of Hainault in January 1328 after his accession as Edward III, and Eleanor of Woodstock married the decades-older Count, later Duke, Reynald II of Guelders, in May 1332, the month before her fourteenth birthday.

Edward II also negotiated with another important Spanish king, Jaime or James II of Aragon, regarding possible future marriages between their families.  Jaime was born on 10 August 1267 (making him seventeen years Edward's senior) as the second son of Pedro III of Aragon and Constanza of Sicily.  His elder brother Alfonso III was betrothed for many years to Edward's eldest sister Eleanor (1269-1298) but died suddenly in June 1291 before the wedding could go ahead; Jaime succeeded him as king.  The same year, he married eight-year-old Isabel of Castile, eldest child of Sancho IV and Maria de Molina, but repudiated the marriage after Sancho's sudden death in 1295.  Alfonso III and Jaime's sister Elisabeth married Diniz, king of Portugal, and in 1625 was canonised as a saint of the Catholic Church.

Jaime II married secondly Blanche of Anjou, also sometimes called Blanche of Naples, one of the many children of Charles of Anjou, king of Naples, and Marie of Hungary; Blanche's brothers included Charles Martel, titular king of Hungary, Philip of Taranto, king of Albania, and Robert 'the Wise', king of Naples and titular king of Sicily and Jerusalem.  Jaime II and Blanche's eldest son Jaime was born in 1296 and became a monk in 1319, renouncing his right to the throne of Aragon and repudiating his new wife Leonor of Castile, who was later betrothed to Edward of Windsor and who ultimately married (as his second wife) the younger Jaime's younger brother Alfonso IV of Aragon, born in 1299 as the second son of Jaime II and Blanche of Anjou.

In the summer of 1320, Jaime II proposed his daughter Maria as a possible bride for Edward II's half-brother Thomas of Brotherton, earl of Norfolk.  Maria was probably about the same age as Thomas, who was born on 1 June 1300.  She was married firstly to Pedro of Castile, son of Sancho IV and Maria de Molina, younger brother of Fernando IV, first cousin once removed of Edward II, and brother of Isabel of Castile, who had been married as a child to Jaime II.  Pedro was killed at the battle of Vega de Granada in June 1319, along with his uncle Juan.  In August 1321, however, Jaime II told Edward II that Maria had decided to become a nun and that he did not think he would be able to change her mind.  (Which I find quite interesting, that he respected her wishes and did not try to force her to marry again.)  Thomas married instead, rather bizarrely, Alice Hales, daughter of the coroner of Norfolk.

In March 1321, Edward II wrote to Jaime: the latter had proposed another of his daughters, Violante, as a potential bride for Edward of Windsor.  Violante was born in October 1310 and was thus two years older than Edward of Windsor.  Again, nothing came of the negotiations, though Edward once again raised the possibility with Jaime in March and September 1324.  In February 1325, Jaime told him that the marriage alliance between his family and Edward’s was "not agreeable…in the manner and form under which it was proposed."  Edward explained that he was eager to make "an alliance of love" with Aragon, and sent two more envoys to negotiate any union "as shall seem suitable and opportune."  Jaime consented to a betrothal between Edward's younger daughter Joan of the Tower and his grandson Pedro, who was born in September 1319 and was less than two years Joan's senior (she was born in July 1321).  Pedro was the son of Jaime's second son and heir the future Alfonso IV and his first wife Teresa d'Entenca, and succeeded his father as Pedro IV, king of Aragon in 1336; he lived until 1387 and was known as El del Punyalet, 'He of the little Dagger'.  Because Edward II had heard that Jaime II "is old and decrepit and it is not certain that he is not dead" – in fact, Jaime lived until November 1327 – he corresponded instead with Jaime's son Alfonso, Pedro's father, regarding the possible marriage.  Pedro IV of Aragon ultimately married firstly Marie of Navarre, daughter of Isabella of France's niece Queen Joan II of Navarre (daughter of Louis X of France and his adulterous first wide Marguerite of Burgundy), though the mother of his two eldest sons and heirs was his second wife Eleanor or Leonor, daughter of Afonso IV of Portugal.


Anerje said...

I always look forward to a post on Edward's Spanish family. I keep reminding myself he was half-Castilian.

Sami Parkkonen said...

One thing for certain; I would have had a tremendous headache in those days as I really do not like these marriage/wedding circuses at all. And yes, I have been married. I have gone trough the wedding planning and the whole nine yards.