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Modern historians are often given the question of whether or not a knight could marry a princess during the medieval era. Turns out historians have two examples of knights marrying above their social position to the princess.
When it comes to a knight marrying a princess during the middle ages we have two prime examples of this. First, history has the story of Ralph of Nesle who married Alice the Queen of Cyprus in 1233. Second, was Peter of Dreux who in 1213 ended up marrying Alix the Duchess of Brittany to become one of the most powerful knights in medieval Britain.
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Without further ado, here are 2 real examples of medieval knights marrying a princess or queen.
Ralph of Nesle Marrying The Queen of Cyprus Alice.
The first example is of Ralph of Nesle who in 1233 married the queen of Cyprus Alice.
Ralph would join his brother on a crusade out of France to Jerusalem. While in France Ralph was just a simple knight who did not hold much standing. However, sometime in the 1220’s he would meet and fall in love with Alice the queen of Cyprus.
Alice herself was in her late forties when she married Ralph who was in his twenties. While this age gap was common during the middle ages it was uncommon to have such a gap between social standing in the two groups of people.
Ralph was a relatively unknown noble who had little renown or fame to his name. He did engage in a couple skirmishes upon trading caravans but other than that he was just a normal knight. However, Alice took a liking to him and in 1233 both her and Ralph married.
As such Alice and Ralph represent a rare union between a lower status knight/noble and a queen/princess.
Peter of Druex Marrying Alix The Duchess of Brittany
Another example of a knight marrying a princess/queen was the marriage between Peter of Dreux and Alix the Duchess of Brittany.
Peter was born sometime around 1187 to a relatively minor noble family. Since he was the second son of a minor noble family his prospects to hold any land of his own was slim. As such Peter was destined for a career in the clergy of England.
However, by a turn of fate King Phillip II of France needed to find a person he could manipulate to control Brittany. Not only was this region unstable but in France most of the nobles were actively attempting to steal power from King Phillip II. As such needed to find an unlikely person who held no major ties to the landed elite of France.
Sometime in 1210 King Phillip found his candidate in Peter of Dreux.
Peter’s Wife was duchess of Brittany. Alix came from a very powerful family and was a princess of France. Historians don’t have much details detailing the life of Alix but we know that she grew up in a very powerful family that was in line to the English throne.
As such this marriage between Peter of Dreux and Alix the Duchess of Brittany is one of the primary examples of a knight marrying either a princess or queen.
Was A Marriage Between A Queen/Princess And A Knight Common
Was a marriage between a knight and a princess or queen common? Generally speaking, no. Medieval society was very firm when it came to social classes. However, it is important to know that all lords of medieval kingdoms were generally knights.
This means that any lord of the realm regardless of rank was technically a knight. However, when we talk about knights marrying princesses or queens most people are thinking about low ranking knights marrying a princess.
This was not that common during the medieval era. These two examples I have given of a knight marrying a princess are some of the rarest examples of lower level knights marrying either a princess or a queen.
There you have it; an entire article answering the question of whether or not a knight could either marry a king or queen.
The concept of medieval society and its permeability is fascinating. It was rare to have anybody achieve rapid social mobility outside of some extreme circumstances. However we do have examples of commoners becoming knights and knights becoming kings.
Here at The History Ace I strive to publish the best history articles on the internet. If you enjoyed this article then consider subscribing to the free newsletter and sharing around the internet.
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