While researching DawnSinger (Tales of Faeraven 1), my epic fantasy novel based on 13th-Century Europe, I stumbled upon the history of England’s Eleanor Crosses. I’ve written about this before but this time I go into a lot more detail.
Contrasted against the cruelty of the age in which they lived, the love story of King Edward I and his child bride, Eleanor of Castile, blossomed like a tender rose among thorns. Theirs was a marriage of political convenience, made when Edward was 15 and Eleanor somewhere between 9 and 13 years old (her birth date remains uncertain). Although they married early, they lived apart and did not consummate the marriage until Eleanor was probably in her late teens. In the years that followed, their marriage of convenience grew into a union of love marked by fidelity.
Edward was one of the few kings of his time who did not take a mistress. He and Eleanor were inseparable. When Edward visited the Holy Land during the Eighth Crusade, he brought Eleanor along, and she delivered a daughter (Joanna of Acre) in a tent. Altogether, the couple had 15 or 16 children, many who did not survive childhood.
Tragedy strikes. Eleanor and Edward were crowned King and Queen of England in August 1274, following the death of Henry III. Eleanor would live just 15 more years. While traveling to join her husband in the city of Lincoln in late fall of 1290, she grew ill, probably with quartan fever (malaria). She had to halt her journey just 10 miles from her destination, where with Edward at her bedside she died.
Surrounded by a solemn procession, Edward accompanied his wife’s embalmed body on a 12-day journey to its burial in Westminster Abbey. At each place her remains rested along the way, he erected “Eleanor Crosses,” elaborate stone monuments in her memory. Read more at Christian Fiction Historical Society.
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