Queens Regent – Isabella of France

Julie Gayet as Isabella in Les Rois maudits (2005)(Screenshot/Fair use)

A regent is “a person appointed to administer a state because the monarch is a minor, is absent or is incapacitated.”

Isabella of France was born around 1295 as the daughter of Philip IV of France and Joan I of Navarre. She was their only surviving daughter and all three her elder brothers later became Kings of France. At an early age, she was promised in marriage to King Edward II of England. She and Edward were married on 25 January 1308; she was still only around 12 years old. Edward was 23 years old.

Edward had male favourites at court in the form of Piers Gaveston and Hugh Despenser the younger. He had inherited a country at war with Scotland and was often at odds with his own barons. Isabella tried to find her way through these challenges, but by 1326 she found herself at odds with her own husband.

She had given birth to four children between 1312 and 1321, including his heir the future Edward III but in 1326 her children were taken away from her, and she had no other choice than to return to France. By then she had taken a lover of her own, Roger Mortimer. She formed an army with him in France and was gaining support in England for an invasion. They returned to England, where Edward was forced to abdicate. His fate remains under debate. Isabella now ruled England as regent for her minor son, now King Edward III.

During her regency, her son Edward was betrothed and married to Philippa of Hainault. She acquired much wealth and lands during her time as regent, as did Roger Mortimer. The war with Scotland was still an important dilemma to be faced. A treaty promising Isabella’s daughter Joan to the future David II of Scotland finally settled the matter, with Edward III promising to renounce any claim he had over Scottish lands in exchange for military aid against any enemy except France.

Discontent was already brewing, and Isabella’s son was growing up and becoming increasingly frustrated. He eventually managed to overpower Mortimer, and he was put on trial for treason. He was executed on 29 November 1330 by hanging. Isabella was not prosecuted and was portrayed as an innocent victim. However, she never again lived at court. She was held under house arrest in several castles, though she still lived an expensive lifestyle.

She took the habit of the Poor Clares shortly before she died on 22 August 1358. 1

  1. Further reading:

    Weir, Allison (2006) Isabella: She-Wolf of France, Queen of England (UK & US)

About Moniek Bloks 2746 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

1 Comment

  1. My dear Moniek- Thank you so very much for your research and articles about my ancestors. It is a pleasure to read the stories; I have researched the genealogy & found dry factual without much context. It is a most satisfying read. Thank you again. Bisous,

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