Berengaria of Navarre
Wife of Richard the Lion Hearted
Twelfth Century A.D.
Berengaria of Navarre was a daughter of Sancho the Wise, king of Naples, and married Richard Coeur de Lion soon after he ascended the throne of England. Richard ha been betrothed, when only seven years of age, to Alice, daughter of Louis VII, who was three years old. Alice was sent to the English court for her education.
The father of Richard Coeur de Lion, Henry II, fell in love with the betrothed of his son, and prevented the marriage from being solemnized. But Richard, after he ascended the throne, was still trammeled by this engagement to Alice, while he was deeply in love with Berengaria. At length those obstacles were overcome. “It was in the joyous month of May, 1191,” to quote an old writer, “in the flourishing and spacious isle of Cyprus, celebrated the very abode of teh goddess of love, did King Richard solemnly take to wife his beloved lady, Berengaria”
The fair queen accompanied her husband on his warlike expedition to the Holy Land. In the autumn of the same year Richard concluded his peace with Saladin and set out on his return to England. But he sent Berengaria by sea, while he, disguised as a Templar, intended to go by land. He was taken prisoner and kept in durance by Leopold of Austria nearly five years.
Richard’s profligate companions seem to have estranged his thoughts from his gentle, loving wife, for nearly two years after his return from captivity, he gave himself up to the indulgence of his baser passions; but finally, his conscience was awakened, he sought his ever faithful wife, and she, womanlike, forgave him. From that time they were never parted till his death, which occurred in 1199.
She survived him many years, founded an abbey at Espan, and devoted herself to works of piety and mercy, “From her early youth to her grave, Berengaria manifested devoted love to Richard. Uncomplaining when deserted by him, forgiving him when he returned, and faithful unto death.”
Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence, and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World published by the King-Richardson Co. in 1903.