20 December, 2006

Merry Christmas!

The blog will take a break while I'm on my holidays....back on or around 7 January.

Before I go, just a few words on Edward II's Christmases. It was his custom to play dice on Christmas night, and in 1316, at Clipstone in Nottinghamshire, used up the large sum of five pounds playing (the King was an inveterate gambler.)
Edward enjoyed the tradition of the "King of the Bean" or the Lord of Misrule, on Twelfth Night. In 1317, he gave that year's King, William de la Bech, "a silver-gilt chased basin, with ewer to match", and the next year, to Thomas de Weston, a squre of his household, "a silver-gilt basin with stand and cover, and a silver-gilt pitcher to match".
In 1317, Edward had a "great wooden table" placed in the Great Hall of Westminster Palace just in time for Christmas, and around the same time took possession of a "great hanging of wool, woven with figures of the King and Earls upon it" with "a border of green cloth round the said hanging, for saving the same from being damaged in hanging it up." At Christmas/New Year 1311/12, Queen Isabella sent out gifts of wild boar meat and Brie to, among others, the Earls of Lancaster and Hereford and Piers Gaveston's wife Margaret, and there are records of the "sumptuous gifts of plate" Edward gave to friends and household knights.

If you're interested in how Christmas and New Year were celebrated in the Middle Ages, here's a handful of sites (there are plenty more):

Christmas Traditions In England During the Middle Ages
Medieval Christmas
Tales of the Middle Ages - Christmas

Have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year, everybody!

17 December, 2006

The Childhood of Edward II

Edward II was born on 25 April 1284 in Caernarfon Castle, one of his father’s great Welsh fortresses, unfinished at this time. His mother Eleanor of Castile, daughter of King Fernando III, was probably forty-two at the time – she seems to have been born in late 1241 – and Edward was her sixteenth and youngest child. His father, King Edward I, was almost forty-five.

Edward’s first nurse was the Welshwoman Mary, or Mariota, Maunsel, who fell ill and was replaced by Alice de Leygrave in the summer of 1284, when Edward was taken from Caernarfon to Chester. Although she had only looked after him for the first few months of his life, Edward never forgot about Mary. In 1307, he gave her 73 acres of land, to hold rent-free for the rest of her life, and in 1312, granted her a hundred shillings per year for life 'out of the yearly issues of the king's mills at Karnarvan'. Alice de Leygrave and her daughter Cecily later joined Queen Isabella’s household as damsels, and Edward also granted them and other family members land and favours. Alice was described in a document of 1313 as "the king's mother...who suckled him in his youth."

In April 1284, the heir to the throne was Edward’s brother Alfonso, born in November 1273 and thus ten and a half when his little brother was born. The King and Queen had already lost two sons (John, aged five, in 1271 and Henry, aged six, in 1274) but Alfonso seems to have been healthy – his marriage to Margarete, daughter of Count Floris V of Holland, was being arranged this year, and the Alfonso Psalter was in preparation, presumably to celebrate the wedding. His death on 19 August 1284 seems to have come out of the blue and been a terrible shock, not only to his parents, but to the country as a whole – the populace was used to thinking of him as their future king. (it’s worth bearing in mind that if he had lived to become king, ‘Alfonso’ would be a common English name!)

At the age of not quite four months, Edward became heir to the throne. Little is known about his early life, but he had his own household from a very young age, as was common for royal boys. His sisters, or some of them, presumably lived with him, but as heir to the throne, Edward was the centre of the household. He lived most of the time at Langley, near St Albans (known since 1428 as King's Langley), which his mother Queen Eleanor held of the king’s cousin, Earl Edmund of Cornwall, and which was granted to Edward himself in 1302. Langley was a manor house on a hill, attractively arranged around three courtyards.

Edward's tutor was Sir Guy Ferre, who seems to have failed to impose any discipline on Edward - he went to bed when he liked, developed a taste for gambling, and - more significantly - a predilection for 'peasant' activities such as digging, thatching and shoeing horses, which would earn him huge censure later in life.

Just past his second birthday, in May 1286, his parents departed England for Gascony, which was ruled by the English crown. They would not return for more than three years - which had a huge impact on the young Edward's relationship with his parents. Fifteen months after their return, Queen Eleanor was dead, and King Edward I gradually became an increasingly remote and terrifying figure. Without wanting to be too psychoanalytical, Edward's whole life shows his desperate need to love and be loved, probably because of the lack of parental affection in his childhood.

In July 1289, the five-year-old Edward was taken, with four of his five sisters, to Dover to greet their parents on their return from Gascony. The sisters were: Eleanor, aged 20; Joan, aged 17; Margaret, aged 14; and Elizabeth, aged almost 7. The missing sister was Mary, aged 10, who was at Amesbury Priory with the children’s grandmother, Queen Eleanor of Provence. It must have been a nerve-racking occasion for the little boy, to meet the formidable parents he surely couldn’t remember. As the heir to the throne, he was more important than his older sisters, and one imagines that the king examined his only surviving son anxiously. There were few concerns, however; Edward, as he would remain all his life, was a healthy, sturdy boy.

Edward I started to make arrangements for Edward’s marriage - an issue of great importance. (See my previous post on the Maid of Norway). He also started marrying off his daughters. On 28 November 1290, a couple of months after the death of the little Maid, Queen Eleanor died suddenly in Harby, Notts. She was in her late forties. Edward, as her only surviving son, inherited her lands and became Count of Ponthieu and Montreuil at the age of six.

A few months later, on 26 June 1291, his grandmother Eleanor of Provence also died, in her late sixties. Eleanor was the widow of Henry III, who had died in 1272. For all her faults, Queen Eleanor was a devoted mother and grandmother, always concerned about her grandchildren, and her death deprived little Edward of a kindly, affectionate figure who always did her best for him. On 1 September 1290, she sent a letter to her son, Edward I, who was planning to take his six-year-old son to the north (presumably to meet the Maid on her arrival in Scotland, though that's not certain):
"We feel uneasy about his going. When we were there, we could not avoid being ill, on account of the bad climate. We pray you therefore, deign to provide some place in the south, where he can have a good and temperate climate, and dwell there while you visit the north."

1290 and 1291, in fact, were bad years for Edward and his family relations. His mother and grandmother died, his sisters Joan and Margaret married, another sister, Mary, was veiled as a nun. In 1293, his eldest sister Eleanor finally married too. The remaining sister, Elizabeth, who was only twenty months older than Edward, probably stayed at Langley with him until her own wedding in February 1297.

It's possible that her future husband Jan, son and heir of Count Floris V of Holland (Jan’s sister Margarete had been betrothed to Alfonso) also lived with them at Langley. Jan was born sometime in 1284, so was the same age as Edward, and grew up in England. He succeeded his father in June 1296, and returned to England in early 1297 to marry Elizabeth. She was fourteen and a half, and he twelve. Always a sickly youth, he died in 1299, childless.

Later in the 1290s, ten boys were placed in Edward's household as his companions and royal wards, or pueri in custodia, accompanied by their tutors. Hugh le Despenser the younger was one. Another was Piers Gaveston, who was placed in Edward’s household sometime at the end of the 1290s – a fateful decision by King Edward I. The Gavestons or Gabestons were minor nobility from Gascony (Piers was emphatically not a peasant and Edward's 'bit of rough', as he's often portrayed) and the family of Piers' mother, Claramunde de Marsan, were landowners in Bearn. His father Arnaud's tomb in Winchester Cathedral still exists. Piers was probably a year or two older than Edward, handsome, athletic, witty and a great jouster and soldier. Edward fell deeply in love.

The records for Edward’s household still survive for the year 1292/93, when he was eight/nine years old. They show that he lived at Langley from 23 November 1292 to 13 April 1293, then went on a typical 'royal progress' across Southern England, staying one or two nights in each place - the enormous size of his household, hundreds of people, meant that longer stays were generally not welcomed by the local populace. In 1294, the Dunstable annalist commented about Edward: "Whatever he spent on himself and his followers, he took without paying for it. His officials carried off all the victuals that came to market...not only whatever was for sale, but even things not for sale..." It's worth remembering that Edward was barely ten years old at the time!

Edward spent eight nights in Bristol in late September 1293 for his eldest sister Eleanor’s wedding to Count Henri III of Bar (they then stayed with him for a few weeks before travelling to Bar) His cousins Thomas and Henry of Lancaster - sons of Edward I's brother, Earl Edmund of Lancaster - stayed with him for a few days in June 1293. They were about three and six years his senior, so about twelve and fifteen, and brought a large retinue with them, who had to be fed at the expense of Edward's household. Also in their company was the future Duke Jan II of Brabant, who was eighteen in 1293 and had married Edward’s sister Margaret in 1290. Jan also grew up at the English court, and lived in England till his father died in the spring of 1294 (at a tournament in Bar, arranged by Count Henri to celebrate his marriage to Eleanor). All together, the three young men brought sixty horses and forty-three grooms, and Edward's clerk (who recorded the expenses) fumed over it. Every day, he wrote "They are still here" and on the last day "Here they are still. And this day is burdensome...because strangers joined them in large numbers".

As he gew older, Edward spent more and more time with his father, often in Scotland. He took part in the siege of Caerlaverock in 1300, when he was sixteen. The herald-poet wrote of Edward in the Caerlaverock Roll of Arms: "...He was of a well proportioned and handsome person/Of a courteous disposition, and well bred". On 7 February 1301, still aged sixteen, Edward was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester, during Parliament at Lincoln. This was a huge territorial endowment, composed of all the royal lands in Wales and the rich lands of the earldom of Chester. Edward, Prince of Wales, Earl of Chester, Count of Ponthieu and Montreuil, was now a great feudal magnate in his own right; and his lonely childhood was over.

10 December, 2006

Women of Edward II's reign: Eleanor de Clare

Beginning an occasional new feature, in which I look at some of the women of Edward II's reign. Today, Edward's niece, Eleanor de Clare.

Eleanor was born in the great castle built by her father, Caerphilly in Glamorgan, in October or November 1292. Her mother was Joan of Acre, the second oldest of Edward I's five surviving daughters, and her father was Gilbert 'the Red' de Clare, earl of Gloucester and Hertford. Joan was twenty at the time of Eleanor's birth, Gilbert forty-nine. Eleanor was Edward I's eldest granddaughter, and about eighteen months younger than her brother Gilbert, future earl of Gloucester. She had two younger sisters: Margaret, probably born in the first half of 1294 and the wife of Piers Gaveston, and Elizabeth, born in September 1295. Eleanor was only eight and a half years younger than her uncle Edward II.

Little is known about the childhood of the Clare sisters. Their brother Gilbert grew up, after 1299, in the household of their step-grandmother Queen Margaret, who was probably only about nine years older than Gilbert. Their father Gilbert the Red died in December 1295 at the age of fifty-two, only a few weeks after the birth of his youngest child Elizabeth, and in 1296, the widowed Joan was assigned Bristol Castle as a residence for her children. In early 1297, when Eleanor was four, Joan married her husband's squire Ralph de Monthermer, without her father's consent; he was hoping to marry her to the count of Savoy. Joan is supposed to have taken her young children with her to plead her case to her father, presumably hoping that the presence of his young grandchildren would persuade the king to be lenient. It didn't work, and de Monthermer was imprisoned for a time, although Edward I finally had to accept the inevitable, as he couldn't unmarry the couple.

At the age of thirteen and a half, Eleanor was married to Hugh le Despenser the Younger. Their wedding took place on 26 May 1306 at Westminster, in the presence of the king. Queen Margaret was probably not present, as she had given birth to the king's youngest child - another Eleanor - several weeks earlier. The king was close to sixty-seven and would die just over a year later. (Little Eleanor, Eleanor de Clare's aunt, died at the age of five in 1311.) Eleanor's mother Joan of Acre was surely present; she had another eleven months to live. I don't know if Hugh le Despenser's mother Isabel Beauchamp, daughter of the earl of Warwick, witnessed the wedding; she died a mere four days later. Another guest was Eleanor's uncle, the future Edward II, who had been knighted with Hugh (and almost 300 others) four days earlier. Already Prince of Wales, earl of Chester and count of Ponthieu and Montreuil, he was created duke of Aquitaine at this time. His beloved companion Piers Gaveston was knighted on the day of Hugh and Eleanor's wedding.

Hugh, who was somewhere in his late teens, was hardly a brilliant match for the king's eldest granddaughter. Although he was an earl's grandson, the step-grandson of another earl (Norfolk, who died this year) and brother-in-law of the king's nephew Henry of Lancaster, he had no hope of inheriting a title. His father's lands, mostly in the Midlands and Buckinghamshire, were extensive, but until the elder Hugh died, Hugh could expect to hold practically no land. Edward II gave him the former Templar manor of Sutton in Norfolk in 1309, his only gift to Hugh before he became royal favourite. In 1310, Hugh the Elder handed over half a dozen manors to his son, who evidently lived in somewhat straitened circumstances.

In an age where land was power, Hugh was a nonentity, which limited Eleanor's own influence. However, she was a familiar face at court, where she often attended Queen Isabella as lady-in-waiting, accompanying her on the royal trip to France in 1313. Isabella, Eleanor's aunt by marriage though several years younger, had a group of noblewomen who attended her on a rota basis, as they all had husbands and families and feudal responsibilities of their own. Eleanor had her own retinue, headed by her chamberlain John de Berkhamsted.

Away from court, her relationship with Hugh was pretty successful, to judge by the large number of children they had together. She was also close to her uncle Edward II, who paid all her expenses when she was at court, and even sometimes when she wasn't - a privilege not extended to his other nieces. She appears in contemporary documents as 'Lady Alianore le Despenser'. Edward's affection for her did not, however, extend to her husband at this time.

Eleanor and Hugh's lives changed completely when her brother Gilbert, earl of Gloucester was killed at the battle of Bannockburn in June 1314, when he was twenty-three. Eleanor's second cousin, Robert Bruce, king of Scotland, kept an overnight vigil over Gloucester's body, and sent it back to England with full honours and without demanding payment for it, as he was entitled to do. Gloucester's widow Matilda - sister of Robert Bruce's queen, Elizabeth - claimed to be pregnant, a pretence she kept up for a full three years. (Honestly, you couldn't make this up.) Her motives are obscure; perhaps she miscarried and couldn't accept it. Edward II was happy to support this pretence; the Gloucester lordship was extremely rich and he would have been much happier if Gloucester's son had inherited the lot. As things stood, though, Gloucester's three sisters were equal heirs to the inheritance. Under medieval law, sisters inherited equally; the law of primogeniture applied only to men.

Finally, in 1317, the lands were divided. Countess Matilda had earlier been assigned her widow's dower, one third of the lands, which would be divided out among the three sisters when she died in 1320. Hugh and Eleanor's share was Glamorgan, and a few manors in England. Her younger sisters were by this time married to men Edward II trusted, Margaret to Hugh Audley and Elizabeth to Roger Damory; Audley and Damory were thereby catapulted to wealth and huge influence. The division of the Clare lands can be seen as one of the most significant events of Edward's reign, as Hugh le Despenser, ambitious and unscrupulous, used Eleanor's inheritance to force himself into power. He was chosen as Edward's chamberlain in 1318, used this proximity to the king to make Edward infatuated with him, and attempted to take over the entire Clare inheritance in South Wales.

The story of Hugh's rise to power has been told many times, so I won't repeat it here. The great Edward II historian J.R.S. Phillips has described him as the "classic example of a man on the make who succeeded in making it". It's a shame that we have no idea what Eleanor thought of her husband's misdeeds, his extortion of lands and property including some that belonged to Eleanor's sister Elizabeth, and his relationship with her uncle. That Hugh was Edward's lover seems 99% sure to me; Edward was infatuated with him. However, Hugh and Eleanor's sexual relationship also continued, as a few of their children were born after the start of Hugh's relationship with Edward.

There are even hints that Eleanor herself was involved in a sexual relationship with her uncle. This is stated directly in the Chronographia Regum Francorum, and the two are oddly linked in a document of the 1320s which mentions medicines bought for them 'when they were ill'. Edward sent her many presents, and after one short visit gave her the substantial sum of a hundred pounds. This was approximately half of Hugh and Eleanor's annual income prior to her brother's death. It has been postulated that the chronicler who castigates Edward for his 'sinful and illicit unions' had Edward's affair with his niece Eleanor in mind, rather than - or as well as - his sexual relationships with other men. However, this affair is far from certain, and in the absence of firm evidence we should give Edward and Eleanor the benefit of the doubt.

Edward II and Hugh definitely trusted Eleanor, however. In 1324 she was put in charge of the household of John of Eltham, Edward and Isabella's younger son, and it's often stated that she was put in Isabella's household as a 'housekeeper', or rather spy, with permission to read all Isabella's correspondence and keep an eye on her. Edward and Isabella's relationship had spectactularly deteriorated by 1324, and, sliding into war with her native France, Edward didn't trust her at all. However, I'm not sure how Eleanor is meant to have watched Isabella day and night - as she's alleged to have done - and also been in charge of Isabella's son somewhere away from the 'long-suffering' queen.

In 1326, Hugh and Edward II suffered the inevitable consequences of their tyranny, and fell from power. How Eleanor felt about the hideous death of her husband of twenty years can only be surmised. Whether she was a willing participant in Hugh's misdeeds, or if she had ever tried to mitigate Hugh's harshness, is unknown; if she did try, she was apparently unsuccessful. Perhaps she loved him; later, she had a splendid tomb built for him at Tewkesbury Abbey. In October 1326, she was in the Tower of London with her ten-year-old cousin John of Eltham, who had been left by his father the king in nominal charge of London. She surrendered the Tower to the mob, and was imprisoned there, for two years. Three of her daughters were taken from her and forcibly veiled, and her eldest son was imprisoned until 1331. Later, she lost her lands; Glamorgan was given to Edward III's queen, Philippa, although Edward III restored them to her after the downfall of his mother and Roger Mortimer.

In early 1329, Eleanor was abducted from Hanley Castle, Worcestershire, by William la Zouche, and married to him. Zouche was a distant cousin of Roger Mortimer, and was one of the men who arrested Hugh le Despenser in South Wales. He also besieged Eleanor's teenaged son at Caerphilly in late 1326/early 1327. Whether Eleanor consented to the marriage is unknown, but it was a fairly common problem for the Clare women, because of their huge wealth. In 1316 her sister Elizabeth was abducted and married to Theobald de Verdon, and in the 1330s Eleanor's niece Margaret Audley, daughter of her sister Margaret, suffered the same fate when she was taken by Ralph Stafford. Eleanor, who was thirty-six in early 1329, bore a son, also William, to her second husband. He was her tenth or eleventh child, and became a monk at Glastonbury Abbey.

Eleanor outlived her second husband, and died in June 1337 at the age of forty-four. She is buried at Tewkesbury Abbey, with many of her ancestors and descendants; she and Hugh le Despenser, and their son Hugh the Even Younger, were major benefactors of the abbey. Eleanor's fascinating life is the subject of Susan Higginbotham's novel, The Traitor's Wife.

03 December, 2006

Blog Birthday, and Betrothals

'Edward II' is one year old today. Yay!

This post is about Edward II's betrothals before Isabella; the women he might have married had things turned out differently. The first of these was Margaret, the 'Maid of Norway'.

A little background information: Alexander III ascended the throne of Scotland in 1249, aged not quite eight. In 1251, he married Margaret, daughter of Henry III of England; she was almost exactly a year his senior. The couple had three children: Margaret, 1260-1283, Alexander 1264-1284, and David, 1272-1281. Queen Margaret died in 1275. Young Alexander married (yet another) Margaret, daughter of the count of Flanders, in 1282, but had no children. King Alexander's daughter married Erik II, King of Norway, in 1281. (He was known as 'Erik the Priest-Hater'; I love that!) Oddly, he was thirteen and she was twenty-one. Margaret gave birth to the couple's only child, a daughter inevitably named Margaret, and died around 9 April 1283, possibly in childbirth.

In March 1286, King Alexander III died in a bizarre accident when he rode his horse off an embankment in the dark; his body was found the next day. All three of his children had pre-deceased him, and although his second wife Yolande de Dreux was pregnant, her child was stillborn in November 1286. The Guardians of Scotland ruled Scotland during this time. The Queen of Scotland was now little Margaret, the Maid of Norway, aged three - Alexander III's granddaughter and only living descendant. She was known as “dame Margarete Reyne de Escoce” (Lady Margaret, Queen of Scotland).

In 1289 and 1290, King Erik, the Guardians and Edward I of England - brother-in-law of Alexander III and great-uncle of the Maid - signed treaties agreeing to the marriage of the Maid to King Edward's only surviving son, the future Edward II. Lord Edward was six in 1290, a little younger than his intended wife, and a papal dispensation had to be obtained for the marriage, as they were first cousins once removed (Margaret was the great-granddaughter of Henry III, Edward his grandson).

Edward I intended his son to rule Scotland in right of his wife, as well as England (of course, it turned out that Edward II couldn't even rule one country, never mind two, but that probably wasn't obvious when he was only six). In 1284, on the death of his son, Alexander III had signed a treaty with the earls and barons of Scotland that acknowledged the Maid as his heir, but he almost certainly intended her to reign jointly with her future husband, rather than as sole Queen Regnant.

During the summer of 1290, Edward I prepared two ships at Great Yarmouth and sent them to collect the little Queen from Norway. One was loaded with casks of wine, the other with meat, fish, sugar, spices, wine, beer, peas, beans and nuts. Margaret boarded one of the ships to be taken to her new home, but unfortunately for Scotland and the plans of Edward I, she died in the Orkneys shortly after her arrival there. She was seven years old, the Queen who never laid eyes on her kingdom (the Orkneys belonged to Norway at this time). Her body was taken back to Norway, and buried in Bergen, next to her mother. No less than thirteen men arose to claim the throne of Scotland.

It's really fascinating to contemplate what might have happened if the Maid had lived. Firstly, there would have been no Hundred Years War, at least not as we know it, as Edward II and Margaret's son (assuming they had one) would have had no claim to the French throne as Edward III did through his mother Isabella. Would England and Scotland really have been peacefully united three centuries earlier than really happened? And what about the conflicts Edward II had with his barons - would they have been lessened, with no need for Edward to fight in Scotland? And on a personal level, would the marriage of Edward and Margaret have been happier than Edward and Isabella's - and would Edward have ruled longer with no rebellion of Isabella and her lover Mortimer?

In 1294, Edward I arranged another betrothal for his son, with Philippa, daughter of Guy de Dampierre, count of Flanders. Little is known about Philippa, but she was probably a good bit older than Edward, who was ten in 1294; her parents were married in 1265. Her sister Margaret was married in 1282 to Alexander, son of Alexander III (see above. Incidentally, Margaret's son by her second marriage, Duke Reinald II of Guelders, married Edward II and Isabella's daughter Eleanor of Woodstock in 1332. He was almost thirty years her senior).

In February 1297, King Edward and Count Guy swore to uphold the marriage of their children(“covenances de faire mariage entre Edward nostre chere fiuz, e Phelippe fille au dit conte”). Now, however, her sister Isabella was mentioned as a possible substitute. The reason was that poor Philippa was now being held prisoner by Philip IV of France, who was determined that the match should not go ahead (for reasons too complicated to go into here, but there were huge tensions between Count Guy and King Philip, and King Edward was an ally of Guy). Philippa was held in Paris until her death in 1306. Edward I made peace with Philip in 1298 and abandoned Count Guy - and any idea of a marriage alliance between England and Flanders.

In 1299, Edward I and Philip IV signed a treaty, in an attempt to solve the long-standing conflicts between France and England. In September that year, Edward I married Marguerite, younger half-sister of Philip; Edward was now sixty and had been a widower for nine years. Marguerite's date of birth is not known, but might gave been as late as 1282, making her forty-three years younger than her husband and a mere two years older than his youngest child by Eleanor of Castile, Edward II.

Although a marriage between Marguerite and Edward II, instead of Edward I, was never suggested, I can't help wondering how different things might have been if they had married. She was closer to his age than her niece Isabella, and would probably have made him a more understanding and compassionate consort.

The treaty of 1299 also made provision for the marriage of Edward II and Isabella. She was the sixth of the seven children of Philip IV by Jeanne, Queen of Navarre, and her three elder brothers were all kings of France in turn; Louis X, Philip V and Charles IV. Isabella also had a younger brother, Robert, who was probably born in 1297; he died in July 1308, six months after Isabella married Edward II.

It's a little known fact that Isabella also had two elder sisters: Marguerite and Blanche. As with all Philip IV's children, with the exception of Louis X (who was born on 4 October 1289), their dates of birth are not known. Marguerite was the eldest daughter, born perhaps 1288 or 1290, and Blanche was probably born about 1293. The dates of their deaths are not known either, but both were certainly dead by 1299, or one of them may well have been betrothed to Edward II instead of Isabella. Probably Blanche, as Marguerite was promised in 1294 to Fernando IV, King of Castile. Again, it's interesting to consider whether Edward II's reign would have turned out differently; or would Isabella's elder sisters have taken the same actions that she did?

Isabella herself was probably born sometime between July 1295 and January 1296, so she was more than eleven years younger than Edward and only three years old when her marriage was arranged (Edward was fifteen). Their formal betrothal took place on 20 May 1303. On 27 November 1305, Pope Clement V, eager for the union of Edward and Isabella, and the peace between England and France he assumed would follow it, tried to arrange their proxy wedding. On this day, he signed a dispensation to allow Isabella to marry despite her young age - she was ten, or close to it, to Edward's twenty-one. On 3 December, in the presence of notaries at the Louvre, Isabella appointed her uncle Louis of Evreux to act as her proxy. However, King Edward rejected the proposal.

The wedding finally took place in Boulogne on 25 January 1308, six months after Edward II succeeded to the throne. He was twenty-three and nine months, Isabella almost certainly only twelve. Edward showed no interest in Isabella until years after the wedding - understandably - and even before it, never seems to have sent her any letters or gifts, though he communicated often with her uncle Louis of Evreux.

If Edward II had married another woman, would the rebellion of 1326 still have taken place, or something like it? Would Edward still have been forced to abdicate? Would the Hundred Years War have still taken place, if Edward II had lived to the 1340s? There's no way of knowing, but I find it fascinating to speculate...