Berengaria of León

Berengaria of León (1204 – 12 April 1237) was the third wife but only empress consort of John of Brienne, Latin Emperor of Constantinople.

According to the chronicle of Alberic of Trois-Fontaines, Berengaria was a daughter of Alfonso IX of León and Berengaria of Castile. She was a younger sister of Ferdinand III of Castile and Alfonso of Molina.


In 1217, Berengaria's brother Ferdinand III had inherited the throne of the Kingdom of Castile through abdication of their mother.

In 1223, John of Brienne, aged 53, visited Santiago de Compostela, as a supposed pilgrim. He was by then twice a widower. As a consequence of his visit to Santiago de Compostela, Alfonso IX invited him to marry his daughter Sancha and, presumably, through her inherit the Leonese throne. However Berengaria of Castile, a long time divorced and an inheritor in her own right of the Castilian throne, main advisor of her son Ferdinand III, offered one of her own daughters to John instead.

Aging John chose Berengaria of León, from Alfonso's second marriage. The marriage took place at Toledo in 1224.


In 1229, the throne of the Latin Empire had been inherited by Baldwin II of Courtenay, a twelve-year-old boy. The barons of the Empire decided to secure the safety of the Empire by appointing a regent-Emperor for Baldwin. They chose John who accepted the assignment as a sort of Senior Tutor. In April 1229, John was proclaimed regent at Perugia. They did not arrive at Constantinople until 1231, when John was officially crowned in his new city.

Baldwin II remained the junior co-emperor and only heir to the throne. By agreement, 12-year-old Baldwin had been betrothed to around 4- or 5-years-old Marie of Brienne, a daughter of John and Berengaria, since 19 April 1229 to firmly establish the dynastic alliance of the two co-emperors and the western land for Crusades also, Spain.

The marriage did not take place until 1234, when Marie was about nine years old and Baldwin about 16.

Alberic of Trois-Fontaines records that John died on 27 March 1237, aged around 61. The "Obituaires de Sens Tome" of the Abbey of Maubuisson record that Berengaria died on 12 April 1237, aged around 33, surviving her husband by only sixteen days.

She is buried in a beautiful marble coffin in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, but many books and tourist leaflets mention her as if she was Queen Berenguela of Castile, her mother.

Other books however, mention this coffin as being that of another Berengaria (1228–1288) and/or other dates, her niece, daughter of her brother King Ferdinand III of Castile, sister of King Alfonso X of Castile. But this niece, Infanta Berengaria was a nun at the Monastery of las Huelgas, Burgos, of Royal patronage, where Berengaria of León's mother, Queen Berengaria of Castile, retired as a former monarch.

Further, Alfonso VIII of Castile and Eleanor of England, grandparents of Berengaria of León are buried there. Much later, Ferdinand III's and Alfonso X's bodies, also at Las Huelgas, would be moved to conquered Seville's new cathedral, where they are today.


Berengaria and John had four known children:

  1. Marie of Brienne, who married Baldwin II of Constantinople
  2. Alphonso of Brienne
  3. John of Brienne (c. 1230–1296), who in 1258 became Grand Butler of France. Married Jeanne, Dame de Chateaudun, daughter of Geoffrey VI, Viscount de Chateaudun. His second wife was Marie de Coucy, widow of Alexander II of Scotland.
  4. Louis of Brienne, Viscount of Beaumont




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    Royal titles
    Preceded by
    Lady of Neuville
    Latin Empress consort of Constantinople
    with Marie of Brienne (1234–1237)
    Succeeded by
    Marie of Brienne
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