Isabelle of Angouleme

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Isabelle of Angouleme,

2nd wife of King John

1188-1246

Born:

about 1188, the daughter of Aymer Taillefer, Count of Angouleme, and Alice de Courtenay

Married:

  1. 24 August 1200 John of England, at Bordeaux, France
  2. about 1219 Hugh, Count of Lusignan

Crowned:

8 October 1200 at Westminster Abbey, London

Died:

4 June 1246 at Fontevrault Abbey, France

Buried:

Fontevrault Abbey, France

hen Isabella of Angouleme caught the eye of King John, he was 33. She was 12 and already betrothed to Hugh de Lusignan, Count of La Marche in western France. John’s “theft” of Hugh’s fiancée offended the entire powerful Lusignan family. They stirred up trouble for John on the Continent for decades.

Isabella and John had five children. Their oldest son, Henry, was born in 1207 and was only 9 when his father died. Isabella seems to have been neither popular nor respected. On her son Henry’s accession, the regency established to govern during his minority included no role for her. Isabella returned to Angouleme after only nine months of widowhood, leaving her young family behind with never a backwards glance.

After some two years, she married Hugh de Lusignan, son of her original fiancé. Isabella and Hugh had eleven children, six sons and five daughters.

After her marriage to Hugh, the English royal council confiscated Isabella’s dowry lands. This seemed to have ended whatever feelings of loyalty she might have felt to the land of which her son was (nominally, at least) king.

In 1224, she accepted Louis of France as her overlord, relinquishing to him all her dower rights (now nonexistent) in England. Isabella and Hugh later quarreled with Louis over questions of protocol and prestige. Hugh then made a brief alliance with his stepson, Henry III. When Hugh and the English were soundly defeated in 1242 at the Battle of Taillebourg, Hugh and Isabelle promptly resumed their allegiance to Louis.

After Isabella’s death, several of “the Lusignans,” her now-grown children by her second marriage, were invited to England by Henry III. They became influential advisers in the court of their half-brother, where for a number of years they played a very disruptive role.

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