Domfront, canton of Domfront, arrondissement of Alençon, Orne
Date of death
Oct 31, 1214Burgos, Burgos Province, Castile and León, Spain
Eleanor of Aquitaine
William Longespée3rd Earl of SalisburyJohn of EnglandGeoffreyHenry the Young KingGeoffrey IIDuke of BrittanyRichard I of EnglandWilliam IXCount of PoitiersMorgan
Berengaria of CastileUrraca of CastileQueen of PortugalBlanche of CastileEleanor of CastileHenry I of CastileSancho de CastillaSancha de CastillaFerdinand of CastileMafalda de CastillaConstanza de Castilla
Joan of EnglandQueen of SicilyMatilda of EnglandDuchess of SaxonyAlix of FranceMarie of FranceCountess of Champagne
Eleanor of England (Spanish: Leonor; 13 October 1161 – 31 October 1214), or Eleanor Plantaganet, was Queen of Castile and Toledo as wife of Alfonso VIII of Castile. She was the sixth child and second daughter of Henry II, King of England, and Eleanor of Aquitaine.
Early life and family
Eleanor was born in the castle at Domfront, Normandy on 13 October 1162, as the second daughter of Henry II, King of England and his wife Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine, and was baptised by Henry of Marcy. Her half-siblings were Marie and Alix of France, and her full siblings were Henry the Young, Duchess Matilda, King Richard, Duke Geoffrey, Queen Joan and King John.
The betrothal of Alfonso VIII of Castille and Eleanor of England.
In 1174, when she was 12 years old, Eleanor married King Alfonso VIII of Castile in Burgos. The couple had been betrothed in 1170, but due to the bride's youth as well as the uproar in Europe regarding her father's suspected involvement in the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket, the wedding was delayed. Her parents' purpose in arranging the marriage was to secure Aquitaine’s Pyrenean border, while Alfonso was seeking an ally in his struggles with his uncle, Sancho VI of Navarre. In 1177, this led to Henry overseeing arbitration of the border dispute.
Around the year 1200, Alfonso began to claim that the duchy of Gascony was part of Eleanor's dowry, but there is no documented foundation for that claim. It is highly unlikely that Henry II would have parted with so significant a portion of his domains. At most, Gascony may have been pledged as security for the full payment of his daughter’s dowry. Her husband went so far on this claim as to invade Gascony in her name in 1205. In 1206, her brother John, King of England granted her safe passage to visit him, perhaps to try opening peace negotiations. In 1208, Alfonso yielded on the claim. Decades later, their great-grandson Alfonso X of Castile would claim the duchy on the grounds that her dowry had never been fully paid.
Of all Eleanor of Aquitaine’s daughters, her namesake was the only one who was enabled, by political circumstances, to wield the kind of influence her mother had exercised. In her own marriage treaty, and in the first marriage treaty for her daughter Berengaria, Eleanor was given direct control of many lands, towns, and castles throughout the kingdom. She was almost as powerful as Alfonso, who specified in his will in 1204 that she was to rule alongside their son in the event of his death, including taking responsibility for paying his debts and executing his will. It was she who persuaded him to marry their daughter Berengaria to Alfonso IX of León. Troubadours and sages were regularly present in Alfonso VIII’s court due to Eleanor’s patronage.
Eleanor took particular interest in supporting religious institutions. In 1179, she took responsibility to support and maintain a shrine to St. Thomas Becket in the cathedral of Toledo. She also created and supported the Abbey of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas, which served as a refuge and tomb for her family for generations, and its affiliated hospital.
When Alfonso died, Eleanor was reportedly so devastated with grief that she was unable to preside over the burial. Their eldest daughter Berengaria instead performed these honours. Eleanor then took sick and died only twenty-eight days after her husband, and was buried at Abbey of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas.
Burgos, 1 January/ June 1180
Las Huelgas near Burgos, 8 November 1246
Married firstly in Seligenstadt on 23 April 1188 with Duke Conrad II of Swabia, but the union (only by contract and never solemnized) was later annulled. Married in Valladolid between 1/16 December 1197 with King Alfonso IX of León as his second wife. After their marriage was dissolved on grounds of consanguinity in 1204, she returned to her homeland and became regent of her minor brother King Henry I. Queen of Castile in her own right after the death of Henry I in 1217, quickly abdicated in favour of her son Ferdinand III of Castile who would re-unite the kingdoms of Castile and León.
Burgos, 5 April 1181
26 July 1181
Robert of Torigny records the birth "circa Pascha" in 1181 of "filium Sancius" to "Alienor filia regis Anglorum uxor Anfulsi regis de Castella". “Aldefonsus...Rex Castellæ et Toleti...cum uxore mea Alienor Regina et cum filio meo Rege Sancio” donated property to the bishop of Segovia by charter dated 31 May 1181. “Adefonsus...Rex Castellæ et Toleti...cum uxore mea Alienor Regina et cum filio meo Rege Sancio” donated property to the monastery of Rocamador by charter dated 13 Julu 1181.
20/28 March 1182
3 February 1184/ 16 October 1185
King Alfonso VIII "cum uxore mea Alionor regina et cum filiabus meis Berengaria et Sancia Infantissis" exchanged property with the Templars by charter dated 26 January 1183.
before July 1182
before January 1184
The dating clause of a charter dated July 1182 records “regnante el Rey D. Alfonso...con su mugier Doña Lionor, con su fijo D. Anric”. The dating of the document in which his sister Sancha is named suggests that they may have been twins.
before January 1184
Died young, ca. 1184?
The dating clause of a charter dated January 1184 (“V Kal Feb Era 1222”) records “regnante rege Alfonso cum uxore sua regina Eleonor et filio suo Fernando”.
1186/ 28 May 1187
Coimbra, 3 November 1220
Married in 1206 to Infante dom Afonso of Portugal, who succeeded his father as King Afonso II on 26 March 1212.
Palencia, 4 March 1188
Paris, 27 November 1252
Married on 23 May 1200 to Prince Louis of France, who succeeded his father as King Louis VIII on 14 July 1223. Crowned Queen at Saint-Denis with her husband on 6 August 1223. Regent of the Kingdom of France during 1226-1234 (minority of her son) and during 1248-1252 (absence of her son on Crusade).
Cuenca, 29 September 1189
Madrid, 14 October 1211
Heir of the throne since his birth. On whose behalf Diego of Acebo and the future Saint Dominic travelled to Denmark in 1203 to secure a bride. Ferdinand was returning through the San Vicente mountains from a campaign against the Muslims when he contracted a fever and died.
Szabolcs de Vajay says that she “died at the point of becoming the fiancée of the Infante Fernando of León” (without citing the primary source on which this information is based) and refers to her burial at Salamanca Cathedral. Betrothed in 1204 to Infante Ferdinand of Leon, eldest son of Alfonso IX and stepson of her oldest sister.
Las Huelgas, 1244
Married on 6 February 1221 with King James I of Aragon. They became separated on April 1229 on grounds of consanguinity.
Las Huelgas, 1243
A nun at the Cistercian monastery of Santa María la Real at Las Huelgas in 1217, she became known as the Lady of Las Huelgas, a title shared with later royal family members who joined the community.
Valladolid, 14 April 1204
Palencia, 6 June 1217
Only surviving son, he succeeded his father in 1214 aged ten under the regency firstly of his mother and later his oldest sister. He was killed when he was struck by a tile falling from a roof.
Eleanor was praised for her beauty and regal nature by the poet Ramón Vidal de Besalú after her death. Her great-grandson Alfonso X referred to her as "noble and much loved".
Eleanor was played by Ida Norden in the silent film The Jewess of Toledo.