Philippa of Hainault,
wife of King Edward III
1314, the daughter of Count William III of Hainault and Jeanne de Valois
24 January 1328 Edward III, at York Minster
4 March 1330 at Westminster Abbey, London
15 August 1369 at Windsor Castle
hilippa, at age 14, married into a “difficult” family. Her mother-in-law had used 15-year-old Edward as her figurehead and forced his father to abdicate. Edward was crowned but Isabella kept the power. It was not until Edward was almost 18 that he would take control, and Philippa would truly become queen of England.
Philippa and Edward had a strong marriage; Edward was a devoted (albeit not faithful) husband. The couple had twelve children born between 1330 and 1355. Philippa and Edward shared a love for the pageantry and literature of chivalry, and Philippa participated as a “Lady Companion” in Edward’s creation, the Order of the Garter.
Philippa travelled with Edward whenever possible. In 1338, she accompanied him to the Low Countries as he sought alliances in his approaching war against France. Two of her sons, Lionel of Antwerp and John of Gaunt (i.e., Ghent), were born before their return to England.
When Edward invaded France, Philippa stayed in England. She successfully mustered the troops when David of Scotland invaded in the north. Philippa then traveled to France, arriving just as the city of Calais was about to fall to the English. Edward had threatened to execute the city’s six burgesses for failing to immediately surrender. Philippa interceded, kneeling and asking for mercy, in a dramatic staged performance that allowed Edward to graciously step back from an unwise display of ferocity.
Philippa remained active into her middle years, moving regularly among the royal residences. She continued to hunt (and, in 1357, dislocated her shoulder so doing). She began, in 1367, to suffer from dropsy. Edward had, by this time, become engaged all-too-publicly in an affair with one of Philippa’s ladies, Alice Perrers.
Nevertheless, when Philippa died in 1369 at Windsor Castle, her husband Edward, distraught and grief-stricken, was by her side.
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