Blanche_de_castille

A lady who finds herself occasionally short of funds should always keep assets on hand that she can sell off in a pinch — including her offspring.

Consider the case of Blanche of Castile, wife of the French prince Louis VIII and soon-to-be queen consort of France in the early thirteenth century. Like most couples who face frequent long-distance business travel, Prince Louis went off to England to lead a baronial uprising against Blanche’s uncle, King John, while Blanche and her two sons tended the home fires back in Paris. When Louis called for additional financial support, Blanche decided to petition her father-in-law, King Philip Augustus, on Louis’ behalf. But the result was not what she had expected.

Whatever the reason, whether his investment returns were a little low that month or the recent sale of a castle or two hadn’t brought as much as expected, Philip Augustus refused.

Point blank.

So Blanche, unwilling to mow the neighbors’ lawns or maison-sit while they were Christmasing in the Alps, started casting about for something she could sell. And realized, like a princess in a fairy tale, that her most valuable possessions came from within.

“By the Blessed Mother of God,” she said to the king. “ I have fair children by my lord; I will pawn them and see what I can raise on them.”

Faced with the prospect of the future king of France and the future Duke of Artois being handed over for cash like Grandpa’s old hauberk, Philip Augustus relented. Those pawnshop loans are only good for the short term anyway.

So, thanks to Blanche’s quick thinking, Prince Louis got his support. Blanche even got to keep her children. And therein lies a valuable lesson about good financial management and the importance of always having assets that can be liquidated in a hurry. Even if they are your progeny.

Further Reading

Image Source / CC-PD-Mark

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