January 31, 2009
Eleanor of Castile, Queen Consort of England, had 16 children
...and ten of them died by the age of ten.
The four boys lived one day, and five, six and ten years. Of the six girls, the first was stillborn, and the others lasted 1 day, 3 mos, 4 mos, 8 mos, and 2 yrs.
Can you imagine as a mother living through that? This was between 1255 and 1290 AD, in England (and Palestine and France). Her 16th and final child was the only son to survive to adulthood, and he became King Edward II of England about 17 years after his mother died.
I am so glad we live in this day and age of actual medical care based on scientific research.
I was trying to wrap my mind around the timeline of the births and deaths of all these kids, and so I made myself a colorful spreadsheet which I cannot figure out how to make appear in all its glory here on the page (I'm sure Jon Reid will come to my aid, though, because he has a history of knowing about this kind of stuff and charitably rescuing poor clueless souls): Download EleanorEdwardProgeny My chart shows that for a period of 21 consecutive years, there were only five years during which Eleanor didn't either give birth or see one of her children die. There were six calendar years with both at least one birth and one death in the same year, and two years with a birth and two deaths. The graph also shows another thing I was curious about: out of the 16 children, the maximum number ever alive simultaneously was seven - for four whole months after his birth, Edward I had a brother, and then his older brother died at age 10, and he was left only with five older sisters, making him the heir to the throne as the oldest surviving son.
By the way, Edward I and Eleanor of England, who are thought (unlike most monarchs in history) to have been faithful to each other and had all these kids together, are not to be confused with another such fertile, loyal, royal, English couple I posted about in April 2008: King George III and Queen Charlotte (in the 1700s they had 15 kids, the first 12 of which lived between 52 and 81 years each! Quite a different story).
My source: Wikipedia's info on the Progeny of Edward I and Eleanor of England
P.S. Why am I telling you this? My son and I watched Braveheart today, in which Edward I and Edward II of England figure prominently. The movie is rife with completely fabricated events and relationships, but they did get right that Eleanor would have been dead by the time of the events (she did not appear in the movie, but Edward II's wife did, which was wrong because in real life they did not marry until the year after Edward I died; and she made a big difference to the movie tale).
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You never cease to amaze me, Katherine! The information I now have available to me, thanks to your diligence and logical mind, astounds me much of the time! You also make me laugh! The River is gorgeous, and I've started writing! Love you oodles...Mom
Posted by: Patricia Taylor | Feb 1, 2009 4:02:22 PM
This history, I think, is linked to a book I read about Richard III by Sharon Kay Penman titled "The Sunne in Splendor". Have you read it? It's huge, and I read it when I was bedridden for several days back in 2001. If I recall correctly, Richard III was brother to Edward II (or III). It was thrilling, with great descriptions of battles, one of which reminded me of something out of the story of King David. It's historical fiction, based on research. She does an interesting job of reinterpreting the character of Richard III who was so blasted by Shakespear and apparently misunderstood.
Posted by: Wendy R. | Feb 2, 2009 9:02:10 AM
Hey Wendy! Richard III was brother to Edward IV, and deposed his own nephew, Edward V. This was 200 years after the history I mention above. So Edward IV and Richard III were both great-great-great-grandsons of Edward II. If wikipedia is to be trusted: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kings_of_england and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_III_of_England
Glad you like history, too :-) And that it made you smile, Mom!
Posted by: Katherine | Feb 2, 2009 1:45:01 PM
Thanks for the reminder about parenting before modern medicine. I wonder how many Biblical characters had offspring that didn't make it, but aren't mentioned in the Bible?
Posted by: Martin LaBar | Feb 5, 2009 6:05:54 PM