Queens Regnant – Eleanor of Navarre

eleanor navarre
(public domain)

The future Queen Eleanor of Navarre was born in Olite as the third child of King John II of Aragon and Queen Blanche I of Navarre on 2 February 1426. Both her elder brother Charles and her elder sister Blanche preceded her as monarch of Navarre.

Eleanor married Gaston IV, Count of Foix in 1441 and they went on to have 11 children, though not all would live to adulthood. Her mother died in 1441, and although she was officially succeeded by Charles, their father kept the government of Navarre in his own hands. Charles had married Agnes of Cleves in 1439, but she died childless just eight years later. John remarried to Juana Enriquez in 1447, which only increased the tensions between father and son. With Juana, he had the future Ferdinand II of Aragon, who married Isabella I of Castile. Charles was taken prisoner after a civil war and only reconciled with his father in 1459. Charles finally decided he was ready to remarry, but he died in 1461 under suspicious circumstances.

Although he was officially succeeded by their sister Blanche, now Blanche II of Navarre, she was already imprisoned by their father. She had married Henry IV of Castile in 1440, but that marriage was annulled in 1453. They had no children, and upon her return to Navarre, she was incarcerated by her own family. John wanted her to marry, but she refused. She was poisoned, supposedly by her own family, and died on 2 December 1464. Her claim to the throne was inherited by Eleanor, who was made lieutenant (regent) of Navarre by her father, but she was deposed by her own father in 1468. He attempted to give the regency to their son Gaston, to the great unhappiness of Eleanor and the elder Gaston. The situation was resolved with the death of the younger Gaston in 1470 in a tournament. Eleanor returned to the lieutenancy only after she signed the convention of Olite in which she recognised her father as King of Navarre until his death. She would have to wait patiently or suffer the same fate as her siblings. She had a great support in her husband, and together they worked for the same goal, the crown of Navarre. She lost him in 1472, and her grandson became Count of Foix. Her daughter-in-law Magdalena acted as regent for the three-year-old boy in Foix.

Her actual rule as the monarch of Navarre was less than a month. John died on 20 January 1479, and a hastily arranged coronation was held for Eleanor on 28 January. She died just two weeks later on 12 February 1479. Despite her short rule as the monarch, she was the effective ruler of Navarre as a lieutenant from 1455 to 1479, with some hiatuses. She was succeeded by her grandson, who now became Francis I of Navarre.

“Out of all the Kings and Queens of Navarre she was the one who reigned the shortest, although she may have been the one who desired [the crown] the most.” 1

  1.  Woodacre, Elena. The Queens Regnant of Navarre. Succession, Politics, and Partnership 1274-1512

About Moniek Bloks 2592 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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