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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ. Queens of England. Vol.1.


Sir John Froissart's Chronicles of England, France, Spain and the Ajoining Countries from the latter part of the reign of Edward II to the coronation of Henry IV in 12 volumes 

Chronicles of Enguerrand De Monstrelet (Sir John Froissart's Chronicles continuation) in 13 volumes 

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Queens of England. Vol.1.
page 99

had wooed and won her. Ae to the third charge, that of supporting the claims of her son King John against those of hia rival Arthur, she by so doing only acted in accordance with tho wish of her favourite son, King lliehard; and although, merely as a question of primogeniture, the crown of England belonged to Arthur, we must not forget that it was the custom of the age for the reigning Monarch to bequeath the primogeniture right to whom he pleased ; and in this instance Itiehard had willed the throne to John, and therefore Eleanora was fully justified in supportingthc claims of John against the groundless pretensions of Arthur. That she used her utmost influence to save Arthur from his cruel death, we are assured by several old chroniclers, and Paulus Emilius declares, that " when she heard what a terrible crime John had committed, her heart swelled with sorrow, and she died of grief." In justice to her memory, she, by her talents and patronage of learning, more than by her birth and station, must be ranked as one of the most illustrious women of the twelfth century. And if a somewhat lower position in the scale of moral excellence be awarded to her, we, in Christian charity, should not overlook the unfortunate incidents which clouded her youthful dreams of earthly bliss, and which taught her, too late, the sternlcsson, that without moral excellence beauty, royalty, and riches only bestrew the path of life with thorns, which pierce deeper and deeper as we journey onward. After the death of her beloved husband liiehard the First, Berengaria retired from active life. Her dower consisted of the tin mines in Cornwall and Devonshire, valued at the annual sum of two thousand marks, together with the continental territory of Mans, and the city of Bigorre, in Aquitaine. From the year 1200 to 1230, she resided mostly at Mans, where she founded, andin the last-named year completed, the building of the stately Abbey of L'i' span. Once during this period she quitted Mans, and meeting King John at the city of Chinon. sold to him her Fnglish dower, for a life annuity of two thousand marks, after which she retired to the secluded cloister of her own munificently endowed Abbey of L'Espan. But very soon John began to neglect the payment of the annuity, and, at length, after much fruitless négociation with her dishonest brotherin-law, she laid her wrongs at the feet of Pope Innocent, who forthwith threatened the English King with an interdict if he did not speedily satisfy the just demands of the Dowager Berengaria. However, the only effect produced by the threat of the Holy See was several soothing letters, by which means the unprincipled King succeeded again and again in obtaining from the Dowager Queen an extension of time, till at last he died, and the debt was never paid. Henry the Third, following the unworthy example of his father, John, likewise endeavoured to avoid the payment of I'erengaria's annuity; but on the Pope's intercession, her pecuniary troubles were terminated by the Templars becoming guarantees and agents for the payments, which were made half-yearly. The affectionate and gentle Berengaria died at an advanced age, and was buried in her own noble abbey, where a tomb was erected to her memory. A few years back, the learned antiquarian, Mr. Stothard, visited Mans, and found the Abbey of L'Espan converted into a barn, and the effigy of Berengaria buried under a heap of wheat. With tho exception of the loss of the left arm, the effigy was in excellent preservation: it represents the Queen with a crowrn on her head, and holding in her hands a book, singular fromthecircumstanceof its having embossed on the cover a second representation of herself as lying on a bier, with waxen torches burning in candlesticks on either side of her. By the effigy were lying the bones of the Queen, the silent witnesses of tho sacrilegious demolition of the tomb. It appears from an inscription on a slate, found in a wooden box containing bones and pieces of linen, beneath the monument, that on the twenty-seventh of May, 1672, the tomb was restored and removed to a place in the church more sacred than its former site, and that in it were deposited the bones and other remains found in the ancient sepulchre,

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