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Blanche of Navarre (1385–1441)

Blanche of Navarre (1385–1441)

Queen of Navarre and Sicily. Name variations: Bianca of Navarre, Bianca of Sicily, Blanche of Sicily; (Spanish) Blanca de Navarre, Doña Blanca. Born in 1385 (some sources cite 1386 or 1391) in Navarre; died on April 3, 1441, in Santa Maria de Nieva, Aragon; daughter of Charles III, king of Navarre, and Eleanor Trastamara (d. 1415); married Martin I the Younger (d. 1410), king of Sicily (r. 1390–1409), in 1404; married John II (1398–1479), king of Sicily and Aragon (r. 1458–1479), on January 18, 1419, or 1420; children: (second marriage) Carlos also known as Charles (1421–1461), prince of Viana; Juana of Aragon (1423–1425);Eleanor of Navarre (1425–1479);Blanche of Navarre (1424–1464, queen of Castile, who married Henry also known as Enrique IV). King Martin's 1st wife wasMaria of Sicily (d. 1402).

Blanche was the eldest daughter of Eleanor Trastamara and Charles III, king of Navarre, a small kingdom in the Pyrenees. At age 19, she married Martin I the Younger, king of Sicily. When he died only six years later in 1410, without heirs, Blanche inherited the throne of Sicily. The succession of a woman to a throne in medieval times often signaled both a series of rebellions by the kingdom's feudal barons and the appearance of pretenders to the throne; Blanche's succession was no different. In every region of Sicily, powerful landholders reasserted ancient rights to land and income which were supposedly the king's property; their refusal to support the crown forced Queen Blanche to borrow money from private sources. In addition, the Grand Justiciar of Sicily attempted to seize the throne for himself.

Without much popular support or the money to raise an army to defend herself, Blanche's power quickly slipped away. Realizing she had little chance of political survival, she assembled a committee of nobles to choose the new king, Ferdinand I of Castile. In 1412, when he declared himself king of Sicily, Blanche returned to her homeland of Navarre. She married King John II of Aragon in 1419 and subsequently gave birth to three children. Six years later, Blanche succeeded her father Charles III of Navarre as queen. She died about age 56.

Laura York , Anza, California

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