Constance of Castile 1141 - 1160

Mother of Alys de France

Louis VII of France
Louis VII of France, husband of Constance of Castile. Hulton Archive/Getty Images

About Constance of Castile:

Known for: marrying Louis VII shortly after he divorced Eleanor of Aquitaine; mother of Alys de France, betrothed to Richard I of England and reportedly a mistress of Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine's husband

Dates: around 1138-1141 to October 4, 1160

Occupation: queen consort to Louis VII of France

Not to be confused with another, later, Constance of Castile, married to John of Gaunt, first Duke of Lancaster

Background, Family:

  • Mother: Berenguela of Barcelona
  • Father: Alphonse VII, king of Galicia, Leon and Castile

Marriage, Children:

  • husband: Louis VII of France (married 1154). Their children:
  • Marguerite of France (1157 - 1197), married
    1. married Bela III of Hungary
    2. married Henry the Young King of England (Eleanor of Aquitaine's son)
  • Alys de France (or Alix) (1160 - about 1220)
    1. betrothed to Richard I of England (another of Eleanor of Aquitaine's sons)
      - reportedly a mistress of Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine's husband
    2. married William IV of Ponthieu, had one daughter

More About Constance of Castile:

Constance of Castile is among the many royal women of history known primarily for their marriages, often representing political alliances or a desire for male heirs or both, and their children.

Louis VII of France had divorced Eleanor of Aquitaine, by whom he had two daughters, Marie of France and Alix of France.

The grounds for the divorce were consanguinity, but Constance of Castile was more closely related to Louis than Eleanor had been.

Constance of Castile promptly gave Louis two daughters, dying in childbirth after the second child.

Louis VII, now with four daughters and living under Salic law, remarried five weeks after Constance died, still hoping for a male heir.

Louis's third wife, Adela of Champagne, was the mother of a son, Philip II, as well as a daughter, Agnes, who was the wife of first one then another Byzantine emperor.

Margaret of France

Margaret had one child with her first husband, Henry, but the child, named William, died three days after its premature birth in 1177.  This birth may have made Margaret stable, as she never had children after that.  Henry may have been seeking an annulment before he died in 1183.  She then married, as his second wife, the king of Hungary in 1186.  After his death in 1196, Margaret went to the Holy Land to live out her life.

Alys of France

Alys of France, Constance's younger daughter, was sent to be raised in England when she was eight years old, under the wardship of Henry II of England (who was the husband of Alys' father's first wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine). She was intended as a bride for Richard I, Henry and Eleanor's son.

When Alys was about sixteen, the Pope tried to force the marriage of Alys and Richard to proceed.  With rumors that Alys had become the mistress of her betrothed's father, Henry II. Richard had become king, and had not yet formally broken off the engagement, when he married Berengaria of Navarre in 1191.

 Her brother Philip then tried to marry Alys to Richard's younger brother John, but reportedly Eleanor of Aquitaine intervened. 

Alys had one surviving daughter, Marie, Countess of Ponthieu.

Alys' great-granddaughter, Eleanor of Castile, married Edward I of England, the grandson of John, her failed suitor.  (Eleanor of Castile was also descended from Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine, through their daughter, another Eleanor, queen consort of Alfonso VIII of Castile.)