Eleanor of Castile

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Eleanor crosses were monuments erected by Edward I at Lincoln, Grantham, Stamford, Geddington, Northampton (at Hardingstone), Stony Stratford, Woburn, Dunstable, St Albans, Waltham, West Cheap in the city of London, and the royal mews at Charing between 1291 and 1294 to commemorate the progress of the funeral cortège of his queen Eleanor of Castile from Harby where she died to her burial place in Westminster abbey. Those at Waltham, Geddington, and Hardingstone still survive. They represent a personal statement by Edward of grief and loss of a queen of whom ‘living we dearly cherished, and whom dead we cannot cease to love’. They are almost certainly modelled on the ‘montjoies’, crosses erected to mark the progress of Louis IX of France's body from Aigues Mortes to Paris in 1270. The cross outside Charing Cross station in London is a replica erected in 1863.

Lynda Rollason

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Eleanor of Castile (c.1242–90), queen of Edward I. the daughter of Ferdinand III, Eleanor married Edward I in October 1254, when they were both children, bringing with her Gascony. The couple were unusually close and Eleanor accompanied him on several crusades. Much of her time was taken up with raising their fourteen children, including the future Edward II, born in 1284. Although intelligent and cultivated, both she and Edward were regarded as grasping: ‘the King he wants to get our gold, the Queen would like our lands to hold,’ ran a contemporary jingle. Edward was devoted to her and mourned her death deeply. He commissioned a series of twelve stone crosses, known as the Eleanor crosses, to mark the stopping-places of her funeral cortège from Lincoln to Westminster abbey. The effigy on her tomb in the abbey shows her beauty and is remarkable for its attention to detail.

Sue Minna Cannon

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