Special Sub-Topic: Isabella of France
|When the teenage Isabella came to England as Edward II's wife, what was likely the biggest shock she first received at court?|
Edward's undisguised infatuation with a male courtier. Edward was passionately attached to Piers Gaveston, whom he called his "brother Perrot." Gaveston was a man of humble origin, but high aspirations. Contemporary sources say of his showy appearance: "He more resembled the god Mars, than an ordinary mortal." Legend has it that Edward II gave away the best of his wedding gifts to Gaveston, including priceless jewels that belonged to Isabella herself! ("Great Tales," Robert Lacey, 2003).
|Edward II's barons had grown rebellious, fueled by their hatred of the royal favorite, Piers Gaveston. The barons forced Edward to banish Gaveston; however, he soon returned and the barons were ready to kill him. When the Earl of Lancaster caught them unawares, Edward knew that he, Isabella, and Gaveston were in danger. What did he do?|
He abandoned Isabella and escaped with Piers Gaveston. Due to the king's all-consuming infatuation with Gaveston, the barons' feelings of dislike escalated to murderous thoughts of vengeance. When Gaveston returned to England, after being banished, the barons colluded to be rid of him forever.
To elude their enemies, Edward and Gaveston escaped from Tynemouth by boat in the middle of the night. Isabella, pregnant and alone, was abandoned to their enemies. Luckily for her, she was not harmed by the Earl of Lancaster, or any of the other barons.
|In 1312, Isabella gave birth to a son, the future Edward III. What title was this child first given?|
Earl of Chester. The birth of the future Edward III brought great joy to the English people, who felt more secure when there was a successor to the throne. No one, however, could have been happier than Isabella. As queen, it was her duty to produce an heir. In 1320, Edward was created Earl of Chester. In 1325 he became the Duke of Aquitaine. Incidentally, he was not granted the title of Prince of Wales.
|By 1318, Edward II had a royal chamberlain named Hugh Despenser the Younger, whom Isabella abhorred. According to historians, what is the most probable cause of her enmity?|
Hugh had an illicit relationship with Edward. While Isabella detested Gaveston, her later actions showed that she despised Despenser just as much--if not more. When Gaveston was executed, Despenser quickly filled the role of royal confidante, and possibly paramour. Isabella could have no love for the men who took her husband's attention and caused personal humiliation to herself. A contemporary chronicler made mention of Hugh, stating "He was a sodomite, even it is said, with the King..." (Froissart, c. 1322-1400).
|In 1325, Isabella's brother, the King of France, confiscated Edward's lands in France. This act enabled Isabella to leave England and return to her homeland, under the guise of negotiating on behalf of her husband. What did she do once she was in France?|
All of these (She sided with her brother, She refused to return to England, She became the open lover of Roger Mortimer). After years of being ignored and humiliated by her husband, Isabella's moment of revenge had arrived. Once she was safely in her brother's realm, she took France's side in the land dispute, agreeing that Edward should pay homage to her brother. She sent letters to England, refusing to return to her husband. Most shockingly, she began to openly show her affections for Roger Mortimer, a baron who hated Edward.
|What was the biggest mistake Edward II made in dealing with Isabella's rebellion?|
He sent their son, Edward, to France. After Isabella purposefully botched her French-English land negotiation, Edward felt that he had no choice but to send his to son to France. Edward's plan was that his son would pay homage to the French king in his stead. This would prove to be the beginning of his downfall, though, as the royal heir was now in Isabella's complete power.
|When Isabella finally returned to England in 1326, what did she immediately do?|
Brought an army to invade England and depose Edward. In 1326, Isabella and Roger Mortimer arrived in England with a large army. Her goals were to destroy the Despensers and depose Edward. The king had grown so unpopular with the English people, due to his extravagance and lack of attention to state matters, that Isabella found little opposition.
|Isabella made the demand that Edward II should abdicate in favor of their son, Edward III. Of course, she planned on controlling her son, in effect becoming the supreme ruler of England.|
True. Overwhelmed by his enemies and Isabella's new power, Edward had no choice but to move aside for his son. Shortly afterward, he was murdered on Isabella and Mortimer's orders.
|After Edward II died and Edward III reached maturity, what became of Isabella?|
She and Mortimer were arrested by her son. Edward, along with strong supporters, threw off the mantle of his mother's control. To avenge his father's death and become an independent king, he arrested Isabella and Mortimer. He spared Isabella's life and allowed her to live in royal retirement, but he was not as generous with his mother's lover. Roger Mortimer was hanged, drawn and quartered as a traitor.
|How did Isabella live out the last years of her eventful life?|
She lived a quiet life of comfort and ease. Edward III could never fully trust his mother after she had invaded England and deposed his father. However, he allowed her to exist in peace and live the life of luxury to which she was accustomed. She had a large library and a beautiful, elegant chapel. She pursued sophisticated interests, and was known for her generosity to the poor.
Her quiet twilight years were in sharp contrast to the heady days of her youth.
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