The Middle Ages are full of children dying within their childhood years. They would pick up illnesses that they couldn’t recover from and the medical knowledge just wasn’t as good as it is now. This was a reason for people to have so many children, despite the risks to the mother’s life.
Edward and Eleanor were no strangers to this type of loss. Four of their children died within the ages of one and 11 years old.
The first was their first son, John, born on July 13, 1266. His birth would have been a big celebration as he would have been the next in line to the throne after his father—Henry III was still alive at this time—but it didn’t stopped the couple trying for more children, especially after the events of their first three children. John, unfortunately, died while being looked after by Richard, Earl of Cornwall, who was also his granduncle, on August 3, 1271.
Their second son, Henry, named after Edward’s father, seemed to be the heir that they had waited for. He lived to see three siblings born until he turned eight years old. Henry was born on May 6,1268, while his older brother was still living. He soon found himself go from the third in line to the second in line to the throne and the heir apparent upon the death of Henry III of England.
Henry was looked after by his grandmother, Eleanor of Province, since his parents were on the crusade at the time. His parents didn’t even return home to spend his last days with him. However, considering his grandmother had always been around, she would have been more familiar and a comfort to him. Henry was simply a sickly boy who died on October 14, 1274, with his grandmother around.
The next child to die before adulthood was Alphonso, named after Eleanor’s half-brother. He was 11 years old at the time of his death on August 19, 1284. At the time of his birth on November 24, 1273, he became heir apparent as the only living boy at the time. It all seemed to go so well. Unlike his brothers, Alphonso was a healthy child and was betrothed to Margaret, Floris V, Count of Holland’s daughter when he was 10 years old. However, Alphonso died of natural causes just a few months before their wedding was due to take place.
The fourth child was a girl, named Berengaria. Very little is known about her, except that she was born in May 1276 and died sometime between June 7, 1277 and 1278. Like the rest of her siblings, she was buried at Westminster Abbey.