Berengaria of Navarre, Queen of England. Her story (full of love, homosexuality and separation) is mostly forgotten, but she does deserve a space here:
Berengaria was born in Navarre in 1165 and she was King Sancho VI’s first child. But History would bring her far away from Navarre.
Eleanor of Aquitaine, who wanted to end the engagement between Alix of France and his son Richard I the Lionheart, liked Berengaria better as her daughter-in-law. At that moment, Richard was in Palestine fighting in the Third Crusade, so the two ladies marched all across Europe to reach Middle East. In Messina, Joan of Sicily, Richard’s sister, joined them and became Berengaria’s best friend.
However, their peaceful journey wouldn’t last: their ship ran aground in the Cypriot coast, and the Governor of the island kidnapped them.
When Richard knew his mother, sister and fiancée were held prisoners, he quickly left Palestine and went to the rescue: he invaded Cyprus, imprisoned the Governor and declared himself King of Cyprus. Many say that it was this epic act of heroism what made Berengaria fall deeply in love with Richard. She and the Lionheart married in the Cypriot city of Limasol in 1191, becoming the first Spaniard to ever be Queen of England.
Berengaria willingly lived in Acre (Israel) for almost a year while Richard continued his crusade, but many defend that the marriage was never consummated (Richard was supposedly homosexual). Be that as it may, Berengaria ended up feeling alone in a strange land, and so she decided to return to Europe. However, when she reached Poitiers (France) she was informed her husband had been captured by the German emperor shortly after her departure. She felt so responsible that between 1192-1194 she helped to raise the exorbitant ransom, and even offered her own brother as a guarantee of payment.
When Richard was liberated, he returned to his wife and planned to start a life together in France, but the territorial fights he had with the King of France (some people say both Kings were ex-lovers), separated the Lionheart and Berengaria forever.
Richard died just 5 years later. Berengaria asked Landless John (Richard’s reigning brother) for what Richard had legally bequeathed her, but John refused. Berengaria finally received her inheritance more than 20 years later. She retired to a convent and she never returned to Navarre. Berengaria died in Le Mans (France) in 1230, being the only Queen of England to have never set foot in Great Britain.
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