Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Elvira of Aragon

Elvira of Aragon
(Also known as Elvira of Castile)
Princess of Aragon and Countess of Toulouse

Elvira was one of the very first noblewomen to go on Crusade.

Elvira was the illegitimate daughter of Alfonso VI of Castile. She married (c.1094) Raymond of St. Gilles, Count of Toulouse as his third wife. Raymond was one of the first great magnates to "take the Cross" (November 1095).

Elvira and her children accompanied Raymond and the Crusading army throughout its journey, across the Alps and down through Italy, crossing over to Dalmatia and then onto the wonder that was Constantinople (21/4/1097).

After remaining at the Byzantine Court, the Crusaders moved through Asia Minor. After taking the city of Nicaea, the Crusaders were joined by the Emperor Alexius I (June 1097). Elvira remained with the Crusaders during the siege of Antioch - her husband was gravely ill (1098).

After the city was taken, Raymond decided to continue on towards Jerusalem with those Crusaders who remained. With the taking of the city of Jerusalem (June 1099), Raymond was considered as one of the candidates for the Crown - he did not however, have the required support.

In the end, Raymond decided he wanted his own "kingdom" and moved onto Lattakieh. Following a blockade, Raymond entered the city as its ruler (September 1099). The following year, Raymond left Lattakieh for Constantinople (June 1100). Elvira and her children remained in the city, under Byzantine protection.

Raymond abandoned Lattakieh (1101) and Elvira accompanied Raymond to the city of Tortosa. Form there, Raymond placed the city of Tripoli under siege. He built a castle as his headquarters, Castle Mount Pilgrim (1104).

Around this time a son was born to Elvira - Alphonse-Jordan (c.1104). The following year, Raymond received extensive burns during the siege of Tripoli, and just prior to his death (28/2/1105), concluded a truce.

By now, all of Elvira's older children who had survived the perils of the Crusade, were dead - only Alphonse-Jordan remained, and he succeeded to Raymond's land in the East.

However, Elvira much preferred the lands in southern France, and arranged to exchange these with Raymond's older son, Bertrand, and so she and her young son returned to Toulouse (1108).

Elvira was said to have married a second time (c.1117) before her death (c.1151).

~~~ Melisende

No comments: