Biography of Queen of Francia Blanca de Castilla (1188-1252)

Queen of France by her marriage to Luis VIII, born 4 March 1188 in Palencia and died in France, at an Abbey near Melun, November 29, 1252. He/She directed the Affairs of France during the minority of her son Luis IX, in whose Government he/she participated, with energy and when it went to the crusade. His deep sense of religion survived in his son, canonized in 1297.

Third daughter of Alfonso VIII of Castile and the Queen Leonor de Castilla, Blanca was sister of the Queen of Portugal Urraca of Castile and had another sister, name Berengaria, who held the title of Queen of León by his marriage with Alfonso IX of León. Granddaughter of the legendary Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of France and England, was chosen by this to marry the Dauphin France Luis, son of Felipe II Augustus, in the hope that such marriage to end clashes between the King of France and England, Juan Sin Tierra, son of Leonor de Aquitania. The choice of white above his sister Urraca was a surprise in the spring of 1200 granddaughter and grandmother crossed the Pyrenees, but arriving at Bordeaux, white (who in France called Blanche) continued the journey alone, under the protection of the Archbishop of Normandy. On May 22 his future father-in-law, Felipe Augusto, and his uncle, the King Juan de Inglaterra, signed a peace treaty and the next day were held in Normandy the betrothal between Blanca and Luis dolphin, future Luis VIII.

White received his uncle Juan the fiefs of Issoudun and Graçay and other territories in the Berry, with the condition to return them to the Crown of England, where the couple had offspring. The young couple settled in Paris, where, according to the Chronicles, became close friends and continued training together until they had age marital life. They were the parents of twelve children, but only five of them reached adulthood: Luis IX, who was Luis de France; Robert I, count of Artois; Alfonso, count of Poitiers and Toulouse; Isabel; and Carlos of Anjou, who was King of Sicily and Naples.

Failure to comply with the terms of the Magna Carta (1215) and the bad Government of Juan Sin Tierra in England motivated English barons to offer the throne of England to Luis and Blanca. This, as granddaughter of Leonor de Aquitania, was a direct descendant of Guillermo, the Conqueror. Luis landed in England in 1216, but the death of the King Juan presented a new candidate for the throne, nine-year-old child who would be the future Henry III, cousin of Blanche. Thus the Dolphin lost much of its support and could not count with the help of Felipe Augusto, which Buchanan of the question, so white asked for men and money to sit on the English throne to her husband. Finally got some support of Felipe II when the Princess wanted to leave his son as hostage to get funds. Later, Blanca toured France to gather more troops and more money and organized an army personally, but when the French ships were about to reach Dover were arrested by a storm and forced to return to the continent. The call to the peace of Isabella of Angoulême, mother of Enrique III, and the decision of the Pope in favour of it, made Luis Dolphin to abandon his aspirations to the English, in Exchange for a large sum of money Crown.

On the death of Felipe Augusto in 1223, white became Queen of France, when Luis VIII inherited the Crown. At that time the power of royalty in France was small and really real domains were limited to Paris, the Ile de France and scattered territories. Strictly speaking, the term King of France cannot be used until the time of San Luis. Luis VIII dedicated his short reign to consolidate Royal power. His sudden death in 1226 White was appointed regent of France in the name of his son, Luis IX. There is news that when Blanca learned of the death of her husband, whose meeting had gone out when it was heading for Paris, crazy pain, tried to take his life.

But soon he/she overcame and within three weeks he/she had already organized the coronation of his son. (E) trained by the late King on Affairs of the State and the Church, could in turn teach the young Luis mechanisms of the Government. The situation was precarious, since the more powerful nobles of France rebelled to undo the centralization efforts of Felipe Augusto and Luis VIII. The Regency of a woman during the minority of a King was not a thing unknown in medieval Europe, but the ordinary was that the Government exercised it a Council of Regency; However, white indeed took all the prerogatives of a King, which was used by his enemies to try to wrest power and, when they failed to do so, he/she was accused of foreign, while it took 26 years in France. They tried discredit her suggesting an illicit relationship between Queen and noble Theobald of champagne, Troubadour who had dedicated him some poems.

During his Regency, he/she signed the Treaty of Paris (1229), which ended the war of the Albigensians and added the Languedoc to the Kingdom of France. Faced with success to Enrique III of England, achieved certain aristocratic factions were reconciled and finally defeated the noble rebels. These had protagonizado an attempt to kidnap the King in 1227, but white could lift people from Paris to protect you and the attempted failed. In 1230, together with Luis IX (aged 16 at the time), stood at the head of the Royal Army, and managed the rebel nobles capitulasen one by one. Thereafter he/she remained alert and maintained informants throughout the Kingdom for the existence of aristocratic incipient rebellions. The Regency ended officially in 1234, when Luis IX the age of twenty. But in practice, white remained with his son how easy and member of Council, acting occasionally as a negotiator on behalf of the Crown and sometimes reaching the news before the King, to whom he/she reported. It was mentioned in the documentation as Queen of the French, even when San Luis marry Marguerite de Provence (1234).

When in 1244 Luis IX announced his intention of splitting the second crusade her mother tried to persuade him that his presence was more necessary in the realm than in the Holy land. However the plans of the King continued. The French Crusaders did not take the East route until 1248. In the four years that mediated, San Luis instituted a system that spread across France, to hear complaints about abuses on the part of the Royal officers, in which no should be distinctions because of fortune or even religion. The biographer of Blanca, Régine Pernoud, emphasized the influence of the dupes had in the development of the project, especially in relation to the inclusion of Jews within the system.

Blanca of Castile, who sixty years could have reason to believe that his involvement in politics was no longer needed, was named Regent again when San Luis left for the crusade. He/She formed a Council with three clerics and two of the brothers of the King. The second Crusade was particularly disastrous and the King of France was captured and held captive in Egypt; If when it reached freedom he/she could continue with the company, it was thanks to the strong Government of the dupes, who knew how to get new funds and men for the crusade. One of the main problems that arose during the Regency came in 1251, when a crusade spontaneous of peasants, which initially had the blessing of the Queen, went to Paris and began to cause serious disorders with attacks on clerics and Jews. He/She ordered to disperse them using the force and white, although finally the movement was suppressed, was at the expense of the lives of many farmers. A few months later, should resolve a conflict with the Church in which the peasants were also involved: the servants who were under the jurisdiction of the Cathedral of Notre Dame raised their protest with regard to the additional taxes instituted by the cabildo, branding it unfair and illegal; the leaders of the revolt were imprisoned in inhuman conditions and white intervened on behalf of farmers and asked for an investigation and the release of prisoners. The Church, furious at the interference of the Queen in what he/she described as a purely ecclesiastical matter, jailed the wife and children of farmers in the dungeons of the Cathedral, so extreme that some died. White left with a body of troops to the Cathedral, whose doors found closed. After demanding and getting the key, did release the captives (some versions say was the own white which opened the door of the Dungeon). Then began the research and the dupes claimed that peasants were freed from their bondage, but the bishops accused him of meddling in the ecclesiastical jurisdiction.

White did not live to know the decision of the courts in this regard. Exhausted, he/she joined a Cistercian Abbey founded by her sixteen years earlier. He/She took the habit of a nun and lay to die. The Chronicles say that the Queen died slowly, reciting a prayer. His body was buried in the Abbey of Maubuisson.


KELLY, A. Eleanor of Aquitanine and the Four Kings. Cambridge, 1950.

LABARGE, M. Saint Louis: Louis IX, Most Christian King of France. Boston, 1968.

PERNOUD, R. Blanche of Castille. London, 1975.

RICHARD, J. Saint Luis: Crusader King of France. Cambridge, 1982.