Character Spotlight: Constanza (the Limbo Years)

     Picking up where the “The Younger Years” bio left off…  Just as a reminder, this is NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT historically accurate, in the sense that we don’t know Constanza’s actual life.  I write fiction & fill in the cracks.  Also, for the ease of comprehending in this entry, I’ve omitted “Castilian army” – Enrique and Pedro’s armies are identified with their names.

     Constanza’s father didn’t remain in his “strange” state for long – he still had a crown to win.  By Autumn, 1366, Enrique had left his wife and young children (Juan was 8 and Constanza nearly so) to chase King Pedro around Castile.  Of course, there are no real winners in war, and in early April, 1367, Enrique and his troops lost the battle of Najera.  It seems so strange because it should have been an automatic win for the Franco-Enriquian forces: they were more than twice the size the Anglo-Pedroan forces!  Unfortunately, Bertrand du Guesclin and Enrique’s cockiness got the best of them, resulting in du Guesclin’s capture and Enrique having to retreat.

     The news from the battlefield caused Queen Juana and her court to flee the capital as well.  Constanza was basically grounded by the Queen right before they left for Epila, the where Juan had been born and a town that remained loyal to Enrique throughout everything.  Constanza was to focus on her lessons, needlework, dancing, and religious study, not a difficult feat in a smaller town like Epila – her entire life revolved around the local church as well as the nursery (after the birth of Infanta Juanita).  For the two years they were there, she was allowed to keep the company of Juana de Sousa, which kept her from going insane, all the while changing diapers and memorizing bible verses.  it wasn’t until the end of their stay that Enrique’s court gained a member who would grow to be Constanza’s rival.

     By late 1369, things were looking up for Enrique, and by extension his family was on the rise: they had moved back to Burgos, and most people considered him the better contender so his court flourished.  Juana de Sousa, however, had been moved to another daughter with a higher social standing than Constanza – Juana de Cifuentes was a younger illegitimate daughter of the king whose mother was known to have been a noble.  The elder Juana passed away, causing her kin to send her daughter as their ticket to favor at the new king’s court.  Juana de Cifuentes needed a court and ended up taking maids from both the Queen’s rooms as well as la Infanta’s and Constanza’s.

     Despite the King’s wish for his children to grow up in the same place to foster a sense of closeness, Juana de Cifuentes and Constanza loathed one another with the fury of a thousand suns.  Constanza hated Juana for her haughty air, while Juana had been brought up with pride in her status as a duke’s daughter and told she was beneath no one, so to come to court and find he had other bastards was frustrating to the young girl.  Juana thought Constanza, the mother of a no-named woman, acted too far above her station, while Constanza just plain didn’t like the other girl.

     A few days after Juana de Sousa left Constanza’s rooms, Enrique came to Burgos to visit his wife and growing family (bringing along more of his bastards from other parts of the country), and came across his eldest daughter sobbing in the hallway.  To cheer her, he gifted her a necklace from her mother, all the while telling her stories about the her mother and kin.  It was the last time she would see her father, the Duke.

     Two days before the end of the new year on March 23, 1369, Pedro fell to Enrique’s knife.  Constanza was, officially, the daughter of the King.


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