Isabella of France (c. 1295-1358), who married Edward II in January 1308, is one of the most notorious women in English history. In 1325/26, sent to her homeland to negotiate a peace settlement between her husband and her brother Charles IV, Isabella refused to return to England. She began a relationship with her husband’s deadliest enemy, the English baron Roger Mortimer, and with her son, the king’s heir, under their control, the pair led an invasion of England which ultimately resulted in Edward II’s forced abdication in January 1327 in favor of his and Isabella’s son. Isabella and Mortimer ruled England during Edward III’s minority, until he overthrew them in October 1330.
A rebel against her own husband and king, regent for her son, Isabella was a powerful, capable, intelligent woman who forced the first ever abdication of a king in England and changed the course of English history. The Rebel Queen examines Isabella’s life with particular focus on her revolutionary actions in the 1320s, corrects the many myths about her, and provides a vivid account of this most fascinating and influential of women. – From Amazon
Isabella of France has quite the notorious reputation with the famous nickname, “She-Wolf” of France, but she began her life in 1295 as the daughter of Philip IV of France and Joan I of Navarre. She became Edward II’s child bride at the age of 12, where she initially wielded little power and worked with her husband. They had four children, of which three survived to adulthood. She is famous for invading England with her lover, Roger Mortimer to take power from her husband. Edward II died under suspicious circumstances later that same year. Isabella’s son, now Edward III, was a minor and Isabella ruled as regent in his name for a period of 3 years. In 1330 her son seized power from her, and Roger Mortimer was executed. Though Isabella was not as severely punished, she was under house arrest for a little while. She remained a wealthy women throughout the rest of her life and lived a rather traditional life for a woman who would become known as a “She-Wolf”.
Kathryn Warner’s book is divided into three parts, “The Conventional Queen”, about Isabella’s younger years, “The Rebel Queen”, about Edward II’s deposition and lastly “The Dowager Queen”, about her later years. I particularly enjoyed reading about her younger years. Kathryn Warner has a pleasant writing style and manages to bring to life this amazingly intelligent and unconventional woman.