Isabella of France, Queen of England

Father:      Philip IV, King of France (1268-1314)

Mother:      Jeanne I of Champagne, Queen of Navarre (1271-1305)

Birth:      Dec 1295      France

“A dispensation of Pope Clement V, issued on 27 November 1305, permitting a marriage between Edward of Caernarvon and Isabella, declares that Isabella was then in her tenth year (‘circa decimum constituta’). According to the peace treaty of Montreuil, Isabella’s betrothal and marriage were to take place within three months of her reaching the respective canonical ages to do so, namely her seventh and twelfth year. On each occasion, the French and English courts strictly adhered to the provisions of Montreuil: Isabella was seven years old on her betrothal on 20 May 1303, and she must have barely reached her twelfth year when her marriage took place in January 1308. Since she was still in her tenth year (or age nine) in November 1305, and age 12 in January 1308, a birthdate in December 1295 seems very likely.”1

Death:      22 Aug 1358      Hertford Castle, Hertfordshire

“The queen’s final illness may have been of short duration. She appears to have been well enough to distribute alms to one hundred paupers for the Assumption of the Virgin Mary (15 August). However, an entry in her household book shows that she was ill before 20 August, when a messenger was paid for having gone from Hertford castle to London to summon a leading physician. Four days later another was paid for a trip to find a surgeon, Master Lawrence, for the same purpose. In the “Chronicon Brevius” (Eulogium historiarum sive temporis, ed. F.S. Haydon [Rolls Series 9, 1858], 3:311) reported that Isabella fell ill in the course of a single day, under the effect of a too powerful medicine which she insisted on taking. Isabella’s last household book, which reveals rather extensive travelling by the queen, shows no sign that she was ill in the spring or summer of 1358 until a few days before her death.”2

Burial:      27 Nov 1358      Franciscan (Grey) Friars church, Newgate, London

“The queen’s body was clothed in a tunic with a mantle of red samite lined with yellow sindon in which she had been married. The corpse was placed in the castle chapel on 25 August, where it was attended night and day by fourteen paupers until 23 November. On the next day the cortege, which included forty torch bearers, set out for London, and reached it the following day. At some point the cortege was met by the king and his household. Isabella’s fondness for the Franciscans and her interest in their great church at Newgate in London led to her choosing it for her final resting place. On 27 November the burial took place. Archbishop Islip of Canterbury officiated at the service, which was attended by the king and many notables, both lay and ecclesiastical. She was interred in a raised tomb of alabaster situated in the middle of the choir. On it was an effigy in the breast of which was placed the heart of Edward II. About the tomb were four archangels.”2

Occupation:      Queen of England 1308-1327

Spouse:

Edward II, King of England

Marriage:      25 Jan 1308      Boulogne-sur-Mer, France

“Edward agreed to meet Philip on Sunday, 21 January 1308. Whether by accident or design, he failed to leave England until the 23rd. He arrived at Boulogne on 24 January. On Thursday, 25 January, Edward and Isabella met at the door of the cathedral church of Notre Dame Boulogne where they exchanged vows and were married. The wedding was a major event for European royalty. Mary, the Queen Dowager of France, Isabella’s brothers, Louis, Philip and Charles, the Archduke of Austria, the Duke of Brabant and other European nobility. On Sunday, 28 January, there was a general wedding feast. On the 30th, Edward acted as host at a great banquet arranged for the French court. The King and his new Queen took lodgings near the cathedral, the rest of his retinue sheltering in canvas tents which had been set up around the harbour town of Boulogne.”3

Children:

Edward III (1312-1377)

John of Eltham (1316-1336)

Eleanor of Woodstock (1318-1355)

Joan of the Tower (1321-1362)

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Sources

1. Paul Doherty, “The Date of the Birth of Isabella Queen of England 1308-1358,” Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, XLVIII, 1975.

2. Frank D. Blackley, “Isabella of France, Queen of England 1308-1358, and the Late Medieval Cult of the Dead,” Canadian Journal of History, Volume 15 Issue 1, April 1980.

3. Paul Doherty, Isabella and the Strange Death of Edward II, Carroll & Graf (New York, 2003).