Eleanor of Castile (? –1244) was a daughter of Alfonso VIII of Castile and Eleanor of England. She was Queen consort of Aragon by her arranged marriage to James I of Aragon.
Her mother was a daughter of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Eleanor’s sister Berengaria became Queen of Castile since their brother Henry I of Castile died with no issue and because Berengaria was the eldest of the daughters. Another sister, Blanche became Queen of France by her marriage to Louis VIII of France.
In 1221 at Ágreda, Eleanor married James I; she was nineteen and he was fourteen. The next six years of James’s reign were full of rebellions on the part of the nobles. By the Peace of Alcalá of 31 March 1227, the nobles and the king came to terms. The pair were married for political reasons rather than love.
The marriage produced one son:Alfonso of Bigorre, married Constance of Montcada, Countess of Bigorre.
When the marriage was annulled in 1230, the divorce agreement prohibited her from remarrying. Alfonso was declared legitimate, but pre-deceased his father. As a result, his half siblings by James’ second wife Violant of Hungary inherited James’ kingdom when he died.
Eleanor became a nun after her marriage. She went to the Abbey of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas to join her elder sister Berengaria who had retired from ruling Castile and Leon, and their other sister Constance, who was long a nun there. All three sisters died there, Constance in 1243, Eleanor in 1244, and Berengaria in 1246. All are buried in the Abbey.
Eleanor was buried in the Monastery of Las Huelgas in Burgos.
Her remains were deposited in a tomb which is now located in the Nave of Santa Catarina of the Gospel, and lies between the tomb containing the remains of Philip, son of Sancho IV and María de Molina, which is placed to the right, and the tomb containing the remains of Peter, brother of Philip.
During work on the Monastery in the middle of the twentieth century it was found that the remains of Eleanor, mummified and in good condition, lay in her tomb of limestone; the roof had two slopes and was smooth, although in the past was polychrome.
Her coffin was wooden and devoid of cover, although there were still remnants of its shell and lysed cross made of studded gold braid, as well as clothing that was buried with the Queen, among which highlighted three brocade garments in Arabic, which in the opinion of Manuel Gómez Moreno are similar to those found in the grave of Philip, son of Eleanor’s nephew Ferdinand III.