January 31, 1246 – On this day (and as a result of the earlier secret conclave at Cluny) Beatrice, Countess of Provence, marries Charles d’Anjou, brother of Louis IX at Aix in Provence. 

Aix en Provence

A list of “medieval celebrities” are present at the marriage, including: the bride’s sister Marguerite (Queen of France) and her husband Louis IX; Blanche of Castile, Dowager Queen of France;  the Dowager Countess Beatrice of Provence; and the bride’s prestigious Savoyard Uncles (Thomas and Count Amadeus IV).  When the groom complains noisily that the event lacks sufficient  grandeur (he had expected a magnificent affair in Sens or Paris),  Marguerite is NOT amused.  Eleanor of Provence will learn of her sister’s marriage into the Capetian line only after-the-fact,  and she will be furious.

January 1255 – Eleanor and Henry return to England after spending Christmas at the French Royal Court (on route home from Gascony).  Louis IX makes Henri III a present – an elephant the King of France acquired on crusade – while Marguerite gives her beloved sister Eleanor a peacock shaped washing bowl encrusted with jewels.

January 14, 1236 – Eleanor of Provence and Henry III of England marry.  This is THE MOST significant single event of Eleanor’s life.  Eleanor’s bridal train arrives in Canterbury before it is expected.  Henry hurries to meet her and insists on marrying at once in a relatively private affair, saving the public spectacle for her coronation.

January 1234 – The papal dispensation necessary for Marguerite of Provence to marry Louis IX ofFrance(they were cousins) is granted.

Pope Gregory IX

December 1251 – Eleanor and Henry’s oldest daughter, Margaret, marries Alexander III of Scotland at York.  The bride is eleven years old and totally beloved of her parents.  Few state occasions during Henry III’s reign will equal this one in splendor.

December 1245 – A secret conclave at Cluny (attended by Pope Innocent IV and the French royals) arranges to bring Beatrice of Provence into the Capetian family.  Beatrice, who had inherited Provence upon the death of Count Raymond Berenger V, is a glittering matrimonial prize—with the balance of power in the Midi hinging upon her alliance.

The Monastery at Cluny

Louis IX is highly pleased to secure Beatrice as the bride for his younger brother, Charles de Anjou (thus drawing Provence into the sphere of influence of the French crown). Henry III of England, hearing of the conclave after the fact, is furious, feeling his interests have been betrayed by Eleanor’s Savoyard relations, including Boniface of Savoy whom he had named Archbishop of Canterbury.

December 1240 – Eleanor’s uncle and most important political advisor, Peter of Savoy, arrives in England where Henry immediately both knights and fetes him. 

Peter, known for his valor, was sometimes called “le petit Charlemagne”  He quickly became a savvy player in English politics while amassing significant wealth and power (he was created Earl of Richmond and built the SavoyPalace in London).

November 27th1252:  Louis IX of France’s beloved mother, Blanche of Castile, dies.  On her deathbed she “takes the veil” wearing it over her crown. 

Blanche of Castile at her coronation

It will take months for the French King (who is on crusade and moving from place to place in the Holy Land) to hear of the Dowager Queen’s death.  Unlike Louis, Marguerite will not be saddened by the news.

November 25th 1254:  An older (and wiser) Eleanor of Provence gives birth to her last child—a daughter Katherine—while acting as regent of England.  Henry is in Gascony.

November 23rd 1535:  Young Eleanor of Provence takes a significant step on the road to becoming Queen of England when she exchanges verba de presenti with Henry of England’s representative, Robert de Mucegros, speaking on the King’s behalf.