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Beatrice of Provence

Beatrice of Provence

Queen of sicily
The basics
About
Date of birth
Date of death Sep 23, 1267 Nocera Inferiore, Province of Salerno, Campania, Italy
Family
Children: Beatrice of Sicily, Latin Empress Charles II of Naples Elizabeth of Sicily, Queen of Hungary Blanche of Anjou Philip of Sicily
Spouse: Charles I of Naples
Mother: Beatrice of Savoy
Sister(s): Eleanor of Provence Margaret of Provence Sanchia of Provence
Father: Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Provence
Authority VIAF id Library of congress id
The details
Biography

Beatrice of Provence (c. 1234 – 23 September 1267), was ruling Countess of Provence and Forcalquier from 1245 until her death, as well as Countess of Anjou and Maine, Queen of Sicily and Naples by marriage to Charles I of Naples.

She was the fourth and youngest daughter of Ramon Berenguer IV, Count of Provence and Forcalquier by his wife Beatrice, in turn daughter of Count Thomas I of Savoy and Margaret of Geneva.

Life

Inheritance of Provence and Forcalquier

Beatrice, like her sisters, mother and grandmother was known for her beauty. A description of Beatrice said she

"set men's hearts thumping and the fingers of troubadours to fevered twanging of lyres. Two of the balladists at the Provencal court were temporarily deprived of reason for love of the entrancing Beatrice"

All Ramon Berenguer IV's three older daughters married very well: The eldest, Margaret, was Queen of France as the wife of Louis IX; the second, Eleanor, was Queen of England as the wife of Henry III, and the third, Sanchia, was titular Queen of Germany as the wife of Henry's brother Richard, Earl of Cornwall. King Louis IX's marriage to Margaret had been arranged by his mother, Blanche of Castile, with the hopes that he would inherit Provence and Forcalquier when her father died.

However, in his will signed on 20 June 1238 at Sisteron, Ramon Berenguer IV unexpectedly left the Counties of Provence and Forcalquier to his youngest and still unmarried daughter, Beatrice.

Countess of Provence and Forcalquier

Ramon Berenguer IV died on 19 August 1245 at Aix-en-Provence, and according to his will, Beatrice became Countess of Provence and Forcalquier in her own right, with the provision that the Dowager Countess could retain the usufruct of the County of Provence for her lifetime.

Now, Beatrice became one of the most attractive heiresses in medieval Europe, and soon several suitors appeared for her hand. Firstly, the neighboring rulers of her domains began their claims: the twice-divorced Raymond VII, Count of Toulouse and King James I of Aragon, who, despite being married to Violant of Hungary, invaded Provence and seized the residence of the Countess. In addition, Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, dispatched the imperial navy to Provence to ensure Beatrice could marry one of his sons.

In such a difficult situation, the Dowager Countess decided to act quickly, placing herself and Beatrice in a safe fortress in Aix, secured the trust of its people and then asked Pope Innocent IV for his protection. In Cluny during December 1245, a secret meeting between Pope Innocent IV, Louis IX of France, his mother Blanche of Castile, and his youngest brother Charles took place. It was decided that in return for Louis IX supporting the Pope militarily against Frederick II, the Pope would allow that Charles marry Beatrice. Mother and daughter were satisfied with this selection, but under the terms of the treaty, Provence was to never go to France outright through Charles. It was agreed that if Charles and Beatrice had children, the Counties would go to them; if there was no issue, then the Provence and Forcalquier would go to Sanchia of Provence, and if she died without heirs, the Counties would go to the King of Aragon. Henry III of England protested these terms, arguing that he had not yet received the full dowry for his wife Eleanor nor his brother for Sanchia. He also still had the castles in Provence against the loan he had made to the late Count.

Charles, along with Philip of Savoy and five hundred knights, rode from Lyon to Provence. On their way, they ran into Raymond VII of Toulouse, who also had an army on the way to Provence. However, Raymond VII had been deceived by knights in favour of Charles and for that reason he had brought fewer men, and Charles and his army were quicker. When Charles got to Aix-en-Provence, James I of Aragon, who had been there all along but was not allowed to see Beatrice, had his soldiers surrounding the castle in which the young Beatrice and her mother were. There was a brief struggle, but the King of Aragon retreated with dignity.

To the young Beatrice, Charles (who was described as "an admirable young man") was a satisfactory resolution to her problems. Their marriage took place on 31 January 1246 at Aix-en-Provence. They had soldiers on guard and the bride was escorted down the aisle by her uncle, Thomas, Count of Flanders.

Engraving of a sealing of Beatrice: Beatrice holds the fleur-de-lis; on the reverse, the arms of Provence

The inheritance of Beatrice also caused conflicts with her older sisters, who hoped that once their father had died, his domains would be divided between the four; however, Charles refused to share the Counties with his sisters-in-law. In consequence, the relationship of Charles and Beatrice with the three sisters, who felt cheated by their father's will, remained always tense.

As soon as Charles became Count of Provence, he brought in his own team of French lawyers and accountants. He excluded his mother-in-law from the running of the county and began taking castles, power and fees away from the nobles who had previously enjoyed a certain degree of independence in the running of their cities. Charles made himself very unpopular. The Dowager Countess moved herself to Forcalquier in protest, and in Marseille, Charles's officials were thrown out of the city. In the family conflict Beatrice sided with her husband.

Seventh Crusade

In May 1247, Charles and Beatrice were recorded as being in Melun, where Charles was knighted by his brother Louis. Beatrice accompanied Charles on the seventh crusade in 1248. Led by Louis IX, the crusaders made an extended procession through France. Before they left, Charles and Beatrice met with the Dowager Countess in Beaucaire to try to come to some terms of agreement concerning Provence. Whilst the more important matters were left until Charles and Beatrice returned, it was decided that Beatrice of Savoy would give up the rights to "the castle at Aix in exchange for a percentage of the county's revenue."

In Nicosia Beatrice gave birth to her first child, "a very elegant and wellformed son", as her brother-in-law Robert of Artois wrote home to his mother the Queen; however, the child lived only a few days. Beatrice stayed with her sister Margaret in Damietta, when they lost contact with the King and his army; here Beatrice gave birth to her second child, while her sister Margaret too gave birth. Later in 1250, they were reunited with the rest of the crusade at Acre, where the King's ransom was paid. Charles and Beatrice, along with several other nobles, left soon after and journeyed to the court of Emperor Frederick II, to ask him to send the King of France more men for his crusade. However, the Emperor, who had been excommunicated, needed his army to fight the Pope, and refused.

Beatrice and Charles returned to Provence in 1251, were some riots erupted at Arles and Avignon, instigated by Beatrice's mother, who felt Charles had failed to respect her claims in Provence. By July 1252 Charles had managed to defeat the revolt and was in the process of exercising his power as Count of Provence. However, in November of the same year, Blanche of Castile, regent of France while her son Louis IX was on crusade, died. Charles and Beatrice had to go to Paris, where Charles became co-regent of France with his brother, Alphonse. The Pope offered Charles the Kingdom of Sicily in 1252, but Charles had to turn the offer down, as he was preoccupied with other affairs and he also did not have sufficient funds.

The crusaders returned in 1254. Charles and Beatrice spent Christmas in Paris that year, where all of Beatrice's sisters and their mother were present; it was noted that the other four women treated the younger Beatrice coldly, due to Raymond Berenguer's will.

Queen of Sicily

Statue of Beatrice of Provence, 13th century. Currently displayed at the Musée d'histoire de Marseille.

Beatrice's sister Margaret, the new Queen of France, publicly offended her in 1259, by not seating her at the family table; she claimed because Beatrice was not a queen like her sisters, she could not sit with them. Margaret had hoped to provoke her sister in treacherous behaviour so she would have a valid reason to invade Provence. Beatrice "with great grief", went to Charles and he reportedly told her:

"Be at peace, for I will shortly make thee a greater Queen than them".

When the newly elected Pope Clement IV granted Charles the Kingdom of Sicily, he had to defeat King Manfred, who had fallen out of papal favour. Another contender to win the throne of Sicily was Beatrice's nephew, Edmund Crouchback, but it soon became clear that Charles was the more promising candidate. In order to achieve his goal, Charles needed an army and Beatrice helped her husband raise one. She called on all her knights as well as the young men of France, and according to the later historian Angelo di Costanzo she pledged all her jewels, to make sure they joined her husband's army:

Beatrice, to aid [Charles] in the gratification of her ambition, sold all her jewels and personal ornaments, and expended her private treasure in collecting round her standard, not only her own vassals, but the chivalric youth of France, who were attracted to her service not less by her personal solicitations than by her rich gifts.

In 1265 Charles of Anjou, with a small contingent embarked and by sea, arrived to Rome, where, on 28 June 28, was invested as King of Sicily by the Pope. According to the storia di Manfredi, re di Sicilia e di Puglia of Giuseppe di Cesare who followed the narrative of the storia di Saba Malaspina, Beatrice followed her husband with the remaining army by sea, arriving to Italy only four months later. In November of that year, the army of Charles, composed by 5,000 soldiers and 25,000 infantrymen entered Italy and arrived in Rome in January 1266, where on 6 January both Charles and Beatrice were crowned King and Queen of Sicily by five cardinals sent by the Pope (who was sheltering in Perugia). As soon as the coronation festivities had ended, Beatrice stayed in Rome with a small force to hold the city, whilst Charles rode out to the battle of Benevento. After her husband's victory, she chose the castle of Melfi as their residence.

Death

Beatrice died on 23 September 1267, a little over a year after becoming queen in either the Castello del Parco at Nocera Inferiore or in Naples (according to the storia di Saba Malaspina). The cause of her death was not recorded, although it is believed that complications following a pregnancy could be the reason. She was initially buried at Cathedral of San Gennaro in Naples, but in 1277 her husband transferred her remains to Aix-en-Provence at the Church of Saint-Jean-de-Malta.

Beatrice was the last ruling Countess of Provence and Forcalquier from the House of Barcelona; on her death, she left her Counties to her husband Charles.

Issue

Charles and Beatrice had the following children:

  • Louis (born and died 1248, Nicosia).
  • Blanche (1250 – bef. 10 January 1270), married in 1265 Robert of Flanders, Lord of Béthune and Dendermonde (he became Count Robert III in 1305, long after Blanche's death), by whom she had one son, Charles, who died young.
  • Beatrice (1252 – 17 November/12 December 1275), married in 1273 Philip of Courtenay, titular emperor of Constantinople, by whom she had one daughter, Catherine I of Courtenay, titular Empress of Constantinople.
  • Charles II (1254 – 6 May 1309), Count of Anjou and Provence, King of Naples, married Maria of Hungary, by whom he had issue.
  • Philippe (1256 – 1 January 1277), titular King of Thessalonica from 1274 and Prince of Achaïea, married in 1271 Isabella of Villehardouin, Princess of Achaïea and Morea
  • Robert (1258 – bef. 9 May 1265).
  • Isabelle (1261 –October 1303), married to Ladislaus IV of Hungary. Their marriage was childless.

Their descendants included Yolande of Aragon, Philippa of Hainaut, Isabella I of Castile, Henry VIII of England, Caroline of Ansbach, Queen Victoria and Elizabeth II of Great Britain.

Ancestry

The contents of this page are sourced from a Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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