Margaret of France


Margaret of France,

2nd wife of King Edward I



ca. 1279 or 1280, daughter of King Philip III of France and Marie de Brabant


10 September 1299 Edward I, at Canterbury


although she wore a crown at her wedding, Margaret was never anointed


14 February 1318 at Marlborough Castle, Wiltshire


Greyfriars, London

n 1299, a “double alliance” was proposed between the royal houses of England and France. Edward I was matched with Margaret, sister to King Philip IV. Edward’s son and heir, also Edward, was promised to Philip’s small daughter, Isabella. Unlike many marriage treaties, both unions actually occurred – albeit with very mixed results.

The first marriage was that of 19-year old Margaret to 60-year-old Edward. Despite the age difference, they lived together in contentment. Three children were born, two of whom (Thomas of Brotherton and Edmund of Woodstock) lived to adulthood. Although she was frequently away from her sons, Margaret took particular interest in their upbringing. Fond of music herself, she had her own household minstrel and hired others to entertain her children.

At the time of the marriage, Edward’s daughters by his first wife, Eleanor of Castile, were not only grown but older than their new stepmother. Margaret established friendly relations with each of them. She also helped to reconcile Edward to his son, Edward, Prince of Wales, who regularly quarreled with his disappointed and disapproving father.

Margaret had been well dowered on the occasion of her marriage and, in addition, she held many of the lands formerly given to Edward’s first wife. She still overspent her income, perhaps due to a taste for expensive clothing. She accumulated debts of some £4000, which an indulgent Edward ensured were paid.

After Edward I’s death, she attended the 1308 wedding of young Edward, now Edward II, to her niece Isabella, and witnessed the birth of their son, the future Edward III, at Windsor Castle in 1312. The young couple’s marriage afterwards disintegrated dramatically, ultimately leading to Edward II’s forced abdication (and murder) in 1337.

Margaret, living in retirement at Marlborough Castle, had died there in 1318, long before that final fatal denouement.

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