Blanche of Navarre, Countess of Champagne
There were two powerful Blanches in Europe through the late 12th century, Blanche of Navarre who will be discussed here and Blanche of Castille who was a daughter of Eleanor of Aquitane and Henry, I. Blanche of Navarre was born in about 1177 two years before her mother, Sancha of Castille died.
On July 1, 1199 at Chartres she married Theobald, III, when he died less than two years later, she was pregnant with her second child. Upon the birth of their son, Theobald, IV of Champagne and I of Navarre (as her elder brother and sister died childless) and a week after her husband died, she became Regent and continued in that position until her son was 21. Her time as Regent wasn’t easy, and not just because she had to send her two-year-old daughter, Marie, to be raised in Philip II’s court in Paris. She had been left with debt from her late brother in law, Henry, II (grandson of Eleanor of Aquitane and Louis II through their daughter Marie). –Yes, yes, I know, at this point in time my family tree looks more like a family zipper, it does eventually get better.—To make things more problematic, Theobald’s claim to Champagne was questioned by his cousin Philipa, daughter of Henry II and Isabel of Jerusalem, and her husband, Erard of Brienne-Ramerupt. This caused the Champagne War of Succession in 1215 which was not resolved until Theobald came of age in 1222 and paid off their claims. Blance also had to arrange the dowry for Henry’s daughter Alice when she married Hugh of Cyprus. To do this, they sold a large portion of property to Louis IX of France.
Some of the things that she did to secure her rule was to enforce fealty of families while many of the nobles were off on the Fourth Crusade, she also gave daughters rights to inherit properties if their fathers died without a son.
Once her regency ended, Blanche was able to retire to Cistercian convent of Argensolles, which she had personally funded.
When Louis VIII died, and suspicion was laid that Theobald IV had him poisoned, Blanche of Castille invited Blanche of Navarre to the coronation of Louis IX in place of her son. This year she also took over administration of Navarre from her brother, Sancho VII when he went into retirement.
She died March 13, 1229. One of her bequests was five marks of gold left to the Cathedral of Reims to build a statue to hold the Holy Milk of the Virgin.
“Blanche of Navarre (d. 1229).” Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 13 Jan. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.