Isabella of France


Isabella of France,

wife of King Edward II



late 1295, the daughter of Philippe IV of France and Jeanne of Navarre


25 January 1308 Edward II, at Boulogne, France


25 February 1308 at Westminster Abbey, London


22 August 1358 at Castle Rising, Norfolk


Greyfriars, London

sabella’s marriage did not begin well. Edward was overly attached to the entirely unsuitable Piers Gaveston, who insulted Isabella and meddled in the government. After the English barons forced Piers into exile, Edward turned to Isabella. For several years she played a supportive role in his life, the couple had four children.

Edward then again fell under a malign influence, this time a ruthless father and son, the Despensers. With Edward’s acquiescence, they deprived Isabella of her friends and her funds, while alienating and insulting the barons.

When a royal presence was needed in France, Edward named Eleanor his representative to the court of her brother Charles IV. Edward could not have realized the depth of Isabella’s anger or anticipated the audacity of her next actions.

Isabella requested that her oldest son Edward, the heir, join her in Paris to strengthen the English delegation. She then began a personal liaison with Edward’s most dangerous enemy, the exiled Roger Mortimer, Earl of March. She declared that she would not return to Edward while the Despensers remained at his side.

She betrothed young Edward to Philippa of Hainault. Using Philippa’s dowry to hire an army, Isabella invaded England with her son beside her. Edward II was forced to abdicate. Young Edward was crowned but all power remained in the hands of his mother (and Roger Mortimer). Edward II, imprisoned in Berkeley Castle, was murdered.

In 1330, young Edward III, by now married and a father, overthrew Isabella and Mortimer. Mortimer was executed. Isabella’s misdeeds were discreetly ignored. After a temporary retirement, she rejoined the life of the court and royal family, although often residing in Norfolk at Castle Rising.

When she died, Isabella was interred at London’s Greyfriars. She was buried, at her request, with the heart of her murdered husband beside her.

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