04 December, 2005

Edward and Isabella's children, part 2

Many people seem to believe that Edward and Isabella only had 1 child, Edward III. In fact, they had FOUR children together. The others were:
John of Eltham, born 15 August 1316
Eleanor of Woodstock, born 18 June 1318
Joan of the Tower, born 5 July 1321

Again, counting back approximately 9 months before the births, it becomes quite clear that Edward and Isabella were together at the right times for Edward to have fathered them. In November/December 1315, they were at Clipstone in Sherwood Forest, a royal hunting lodge; in September/October 1317, they stayed together at Lincoln, Tickhill and and York; and in October/November 1320, at court in Westminster. It should also be noted that Mortimer was in Ireland during the conception periods of John of Eltham and Eleanor of Woodstock.

More importantly, perhaps, is to consider how exactly Edward might not have been the father. For this to be the case, of course, Isabella would have had to commit adultery with another man. Was this possible? I would say, definitely not. It's vital to remember that privacy is a modern invention, and Isabella as the queen of England probably had less privacy than anyone else in the country. She had a household of around 200 people, and was surrounded and watched all day, every day, and even at night would have shared a chamber with her ladies. The idea that she could have taken a lover without anyone noticing is frankly ludicrous! Plus, adultery at that time was a terrible crime for the queen - treason, in fact, because of the possibility that she would become pregnant and a 'bastard' child could become king.
What do the contemporary chronicles have to say about this? Surprise, surprise, absolutely nothing. Whatever people might have thought about Edward II's sexuality (which I'll be returning to in a future post) it never seems to have crossed anyone's mind that he wasn't the father of Isabella's children. And if it HAD crossed anyone's mind, we would definitely know about it - it would be one of the greatest scandals of the Middle Ages. If anyone had thought for a second that Edward III wasn't Edward II's son, nobody would have made him king in 1327. Nobody would have taken his claims to the French throne seriously, thus sparing Europe the 100 Years War. And if nobody at the time thought he was illegitimate, why are people seriously arguing nowadays that he was?? It betrays a deep lack of understanding of medieval realities, a failure even to pick up a history book and check the facts of Edward and Isabella's whereabouts (which are very well-known, for most of the reign) and an anachronistic and incorrect opinion of Edward's supposed sexuality, which will be the subject of my next post!

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