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Paying for the Wedding: Edward III as Fundraiser, 1332–3

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 September 2017

A. K. McHardy
Affiliation:
University of Nottingham
Beth Alison Barr
Affiliation:
Beth Allison Barr is Assistant Professor of European Women's History at Baylor University.
James Bothwell
Affiliation:
Dr James Bothwell is Lecturer in Later Medieval English History at the University of Leicester.
Helen Lacey
Affiliation:
College Lecturer in Late Medieval History, Mansfield College, University of Oxford
Christian D. Liddy
Affiliation:
Senior Lecturer in History, University of Durham, England.
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Summary

In 1331, at the tournament organised by his friend William de Montacute in Cheapside, London, the king's sister Eleanor was accorded a prominent place in the associated procession, where her beauty made a strong impression. There was a sound practical reason for this: Eleanor was on the marriage market. Eleanor was the elder of the king's two sisters and her marriage had been of diplomatic importance for a number of years. In 1325, when she was seven, her father had tried to arrange her wedding to Alfonso V of Castile. In 1329 she was proposed as bride of the future John II of France, while in 1330 there were plans to marry her to Pedro, the heir to Alfonso IV of Aragon. Now, in 1331 the prospective bridegroom was a widower, Reginald (or Reynald) II, count of Guelders. This time negotiations bore fruit and the couple were married in May of the following year.

Edward III wanted to see his sister off in style, for arranging her marriage was his first successful essay into European diplomacy, and, although the wedding itself took place in Guelders, this was the first time in his reign that Edward was able to have some impact upon the arrangements for an important and joyous occasion. His own wedding, to Philippa of Hainault in January 1328, had been arranged by his mother; and so was the wedding of his younger sister Joanna (or Jeanne), who married David, the future king of Scots, an alliance which was part of the treaty of Northampton. Edward disapproved so much of the treaty that he boycotted the marriage ceremony, which took place at Berwick in July 1328.

By contrast, Eleanor's marriage to the count of Guelders gave Edward III the excuse to show off, for he was a monarch who understood very well the importance of image and style as tools of government. The need to erase the memory of his father's dowdy court, coupled with his own enjoyment of jousting, feasting, music and drama, meant that he welcomed any excuse for ceremonial and for ordering expensive equipment and clothes.

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Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2006

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