Eleanor of Brittany, imprisoned when she should have been Queen


Eleanor of Brittany, imprisoned when she should have been Queen

Eleanor, Fair Maid of Brittany (c. 1184 –1241), was a contender for the throne of England, but became the victim of a power struggle in the Plantagenet dynasty of English kings and ended up spending the whole of her adult life as a prisoner.

Eleanor was the sister of Arthur of Brittany and the daughter of Prince Geoffrey - the third son of English King Henry II and his queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. When King John claimed the English throne after the death of his brother Richard I, the teenage Arthur had a better claim, as the son of John's elder brother. But Arthur was captured by John and then disappeared, almost certainly murdered by his uncle.

After the removal of her younger brother, Eleanor was the legitimate heir to the English throne. To prevent her succession, her uncle King John, and grandmother Eleanor of Aquitaine, kept her closely guarded from her mid-teens. Though there were several marriages arranged for her during this period, none came to fruition. Later, she was removed from the succession and forbidden to marry.

She was apparently well-treated in confinement, receiving gifts of robes, saddles and fine foods from the Royal family, and sometimes accompanied by other highborn hostages.

There were several failed plots to rescue her over the years, and the men entrusted with guarding her were changed frequently, as many became sympathetic to her cause.

She died at the age of about 59, having been held in various castles around England including Corfe Castle in Dorset, and never able to inherit either the English throne or her huge estates in France.

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