FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ.
Queens of England. Vol.1.
healthful girlhood, and their heir, whom they had left an infant two years old, a rollicking, robust bov of five, the joy of the good King and Queen knew no bounds.
The year 1290 was an eventful one to the royal family. Before the summer's wane two of Edward's lovely daughters had entered the holy pale of matrimony; and whilst dreary November was yet belching forth its choking fog, Eleanora of Castile closed her eyes in death.
The Princess Joanna of Acre, when seven years of age, had been betrothed to Hartman, son and heir of Rudolph, King of the Romans. In 1282, Hartman was accidentally drowned in the Rhine, just as the marriage was about to be consummated. Shortly after this melancholy occurrence, Edward resolved to secure the goodwill of the premier peer of England, Gilbert De Clare, Earl of Gloucester and Hertford, who was surnamed the Red, by conferring on him the disengaged hand of the dark-eyed Princess Joanna in marriage.
The sober Earl Gilbert had long been divorced from his wife, Alice, daughter of Guy De Lusignan, and niece of Henry the Third, and fascinated by the sunny face, graceful figure, and wild recklessness of the warm, volatile Princess, ho fell over head and ears in love—powerful, passionate love—with her. Edward perceiving the effects produced by his daughter's charms upon her mature suitor, arranged the marriage preliminaries greatly to his own advantage. After the doting Earl had placed his vast possessions in England, Wales, and Ireland at the disposal of Edward, and taken a solemn oath, in the presence of the leading prelates and nobles, to keep good faith with the King's heirs, and hold their rights of succession sacred, he was privately married to the Princess J oanna, then in her nineteenth year, at Westminster Abbey. The nuptials were
solemnized by the King's chaplain, on Isemblage were entertained by the per
Sunday, the thirty-first of April, in presence of the royal family, the royal wards, and other personages of high birth. The occasion was celebrated by mass offerings, a distribution of alms to poor widows, and a general scramble for
! money, to the amount of twenty-eight I shillings. At the wedding feast, the hi! larity was such, that dishes were overturned, tables broken to fragments, and
a scene of riotous carousal enacted.
The rejoicings occasioned by the mar
riage of J oanna of Acre had scarcely ter
minated, when Eleanora's fourth daugh
ter, Margaret, was united in wedlock to
John, the eldest son of John the Eirst,
surnamed the Victorious, Duke of Bra
bant. This union was negociated as
early as 1283, when Margaret was but
three years old. At that period, great
jealousy existed between the English and
French courts, and as the territories of
the Duke of Brabant bordered upon
France, the ^politic Edward sought to
strengthen his alliances by this match.
Xor wrere his efforts unsuccessful.
About the year 1285, the youthful
Duke, then in his fifteenth year, was
sent over to England to be educated,
where, with the exception of a few short
visits to the home of his infancy, he
remained, a valuable pledge of his fa
ther's fidelity. The preliminaries being
arranged, Duke John the First of Bra
bant, with a train of nobles and ladies
from the provinces, came to England, and
being joined by the royal family, who
had been spending their midsummer at
the Tower, proceeded to Westminster,
where, in the stately Abbey, the Princess
Margaret, then fifteen, was espoused to
John, afterward second Duke of Brabant,
on Saturday, the eighth of July, 1290.
The magnificence of the espousals
was heightened by feastings and pa
geantry, provided in honour of the ac
cession by Edward at London. The
grand banquet was graced bythe presence
of the King and Queen, Prince Edward,
the mighty Earl of Gloucester, and a
multitude of other magnates, accom
panied by their ladies, and attended by
hundreds of knights. After feasting
to their heart's content, the brilliant as
formances of about five hundred minstrels, buffoons, harpists, violinists, and trumpeters, collected both from foreign parts, as well as from every corner in England ; whilst a chorus of about seven hundred knights and ladies, after