Clare of Westrijk, Queen of Wesmandy

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Clare of Westrijk
Edgar-klara-monument.png
Funeral effigy of Queen Clare and her husband, King Edgar II of Wesmandy.
Biographical data
Born 16 March 1372
Place of birth Bodonberg Eslos, Göra, Westrijk
Died 3 September 1400
Place of death Ellasbrook House, Ellasbrook, Wesmandy
Husband Edgar II of Wesmandy
Issue - Richard, Earl of Eskwick
- Gerald
Dynasty Ordt Bodonberg
Father Karl III of Westrijk
Mother Enrikette dä Hijklönd


Clare of Westrijk (born Klara Batriz dä Ordt Bodonberg Hijklönd; 16 March 1372-6 September 1400) was Queen of Wesmandy as the wife of King Edgar II. She was the elder daughter of King Karl III of Westrijk, and, as such, also held the title of Grifferin dä Westrijk.

Early life

Princess Klara Batriz dä Ordt Bodonberg Hijklönd of Westrijk was born on 16 March 1372 at Bodonberg Eslos, Göra, Westrijk. She was the first child of Karl III, King of Westrijk and his wife, Enrikette dä Hijklönd.

In 1380, as part of measures to resist growing Vinnish aggression, Karl III entered into a defensive alliance with King Richard II of Wesmandy. The alliance agreement - the Treaty of Valdeluk - provided for a dynastic union through the betrothal of 8-year old Klara to Richard II's younger brother, Edgar. At the insistence of Queen Enrikette, a provision was included preventing the marriage from being solemnized before Klara's 16th birthday.

Move to Wesmandy

Although her marriage could not be solemnized until 1388, King Karl agreed that his daughter should be allowed to move to Wesmandy when she was 11, in 1383. The ostensible purpose of this was so that she could learn Ingerish and be educated in the ways of the Wesman court and society before marrying, but there was also concern for her safety if Vinnmark should succeed in invading Westrijk (which happened the following year).

After much debate, it was agreed that Klara and her retinue should travel secretly through Vinnmark from Göra to Eskwick. Other routes around Vinnmark were considered, but they would have been much longer and not necessarily much safer. The story of the Ladye's Progresse through Vinnmark was recorded in a journal by John Bardley, the Wesman Chaplain who accompanied the party, and became very popular in subsequent years. After successfully evading discovery through Vinnmark, the party was very nearly captured in Wisley Wood (Vinnish: Visle Skov) in southern Nordhalvøen (Norhavon), but was saved by soldiers belonging to the Nordhalvøenic knight Gunnar Aronsson, Lord of Flodhede. The royal party was taken to Flodhede (now Rivermoor) and remained as "guests" of the lord for several weeks before being allowed to cross the Meur River into Wesmandy. They landed at the town of Marshleigh where they were met by Prince Edgar himself and escorted to Eskwick.

Wesmandy before marriage

In Eskwick, the princess - now known as Clare (the Ingerish form of her name) - was placed in the household of Queen Madlen, the 48-year old widow of King Edgar I and mother of Richard II and Edgar. Madlen had Clare trained in Wesman ways, but also ensured that she was well educated and taught to read and write, which was rare amongst woman at the time. Clare received numerous visits from her fiancé, who became besotted with her despite her young age. Clare was very inquisitive, and legend says that it was her incessant questions about Wesmandy, which Edgar couldn't answer, which led him to initiate the Great Census when he became king.

Marriage

Clare's coat of arms as Queen of Wesmandy
Clare turned 16 on 16 March 1388 and was married to Edgar four days later in the Castle Church of St.Richard in Eskwick. The couple were very close, and despite her youth, Clare became his confidant and constant support in official as well as personal matters. Her influence caused some consternation among Edgar's advisors after he became king in 1392, but the couple were careful not to antagonize them. The young Queen was very popular among the ordinary people.

Clare suffered the tragedy of two miscarriages before successfully giving birth to a son - Richard - in 1391. There was at least one stillbirth, in 1393, before the birth of a second son, Gerald, in 1395.

Death

In 1400, just a few weeks after completion of the Great Census, King Edgar went on a progress to the south of the kingdom but left the Queen behind because she was heavily pregnant. Plague hit Eskwick soon afterwards, and the Queen and her sons moved across the river Esk to the King's hunting lodge at Ellasbrook, with the intention of moving further from the city shortly afterwards. But their escape was too late : within two days of arriving at Ellasbrook, first Gerald, then Richard and finally Clare caught the plague. They died shortly afterwards along with at least fifteen officers and servants of the Queen's household.

The Queen and princes' joint funeral was held at Eskwick Cathedral on 4 December 1400. Huge crowds gathered to pay their respects, while the grief-stricken King struggled to maintain his composure.

Aftermath

Although her strong character and influence over the King riled some counsellors, Queen Clare was popular with the public and her death caused widespread sadness. Her popularity grew in the following decades as pleasant memories of her and her husband's reign contrasted with the bitterness and conflict of the Fifty Years' War.