25 June, 2007

Ancestry of Queen Isabella

After my post on Edward II's ancestry, here's one on his wife's illustrious and somewhat inbred forebears.

Queen Isabella was the sixth of seven children, possibly born at Vincennes, in late 1295 or the beginning of 1296 (25 January 1296 is the latest date she can have been born, as she married Edward II on 25 January 1308, aged twelve). Both her parents were sovereigns in their own right, and like her husband, she was of partly Spanish origin.

And I just had to post this screamingly inaccurate account of Isabella's life, that I found while researching Isabel MacDuff (and commenter Elflady also sent me the link - thanks, Elflady!) It gives Isabella's lifetime as c. 1285 to c. 1313 - it should be 1295/96 to 1358 - and goes on...

"She took up arms against her husband and his supporters. When Edward III came to the throne, he forced Isabelle to flee to Scotland, where, during the ensuing war, she travelled with a defending troop of like-spirited women including two sisters of Nigel and Robert Bruce (Christian, Lady Bruce and Isobel, Countess of Buchan). Against this troop of noblewomen, Edward issued a formal proscription. He did capture several and imprison them. Isabelle he forced to retire to a convent life lest she try further conquests."

Where on earth did the writer of that get his information?! Brilliant.


Queen Isabella's father was Philip IV, King of France, known as Philippe le Bel - this is usually translated into English as Philip the Fair (meaning handsome, not fair-haired). He was born in Fontainebleau sometime in 1268 as the second but eldest surviving son of Philip III, and succeeded his father as King of France on 5 October 1285, aged seventeen. His elder brother Louis, born in 1265 or 1266, had died in May 1276.

Philip married Jeanne de Navarre at Notre Dame in Paris, on 16 August 1284; they had seven children, of whom four lived into adulthood. These four were all crowned monarchs: Louis X, Philip V and Charles IV of France, and Queen Isabella of England.

Philip's enemy the Bishop of Pamiers memorably said of him "he is neither a man nor a beast, but a statue." He is most famous for his destruction of the Knights Templar; what is not widely known is that the Templar Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, was Queen Isabella's godfather. De Molay was burned alive on 18 March 1314, on an island in the Seine, in Paris. Supposedly, he cursed Philip IV and Pope Clement V, who had aided Philip in the Templars' destruction, and summoned them to appear before God within a year. Clement V died a month and two days later. Philip IV himself was dead before the year was out.

He died while hunting on 29 November 1314, aged only forty-six, after a reign of twenty-nine years. He left three sons, aged between about twenty and twenty-five, but none of them lived long or produced any living sons, and within fourteen years of Philip's death, the Capet dynasty was extinct. The son of Philip's brother Charles de Valois succeeded as the first Valois King of France. Philip IV was buried at the Basilica Saint-Denis in Paris, in common with practically all French monarchs.


Queen Isabella's mother was Jeanne de Navarre/Juana de Navarra, who was born either on 17 April 1271, or on 14 January 1273, or sometime in 1272 - reports differ - at Bar-sur-Seine. She was the only surviving child of her father, and succeeded as Queen Jeanne/Juana I of Navarre as a baby or a toddler in July 1274. She was also Countess of Champagne, Brie and Bigorre.

As the greatest heiress of the age, she was much in demand as a marriage partner. On 30 November 1273, Edward I of England arranged with her father King Enrique that she would marry his second son Henry, then five, with his brother Alfonso, just a few days old at the time of the arrangement, as the 'substitute' in the case of Henry's demise. However, the sudden death of Jeanne's father in July 1274 put paid to the alliance between Navarre and England, and Jeanne was subsequently betrothed to 'one of the sons' of Philip III of France. She grew up with them at Vincennes, and married the future Philip IV on 16 August 1284, aged between eleven and thirteen.
[Edward II had three older brothers, John, Henry and Alfonso, who all died young, in 1271, 1274 and 1284 respectively.]

Jeanne and Philip evidently enjoyed a close relationship, and in 1294, Philip named her Regent of France in case he died before their sons came of age. Although Philip ruled Navarre in right of his wife, Jeanne herself governed her county of Champagne. In 1304, she founded the Collège de Navarre in Paris, one of the colleges of the university of Paris. It was suppressed at the time of the French Revolution.

I've seen several references to the fact that Queen Jeanne raised an army and led her troops against Henri III, Count of Bar (husband of Edward II's eldest sister Eleanor) when he invaded her lands, but I can't find any details. Allegedly, she also kept him prisoner. When this is meant to have happened, I don't know, but doesn't it seem highly unlikely that a woman would lead troops into battle - a high-born woman at that?

Jeanne/Juana, Queen of France, Queen of Navarre in her own right, Countess of Champagne, Brie and Bigorre, died on 2 or 4 April 1305, still in her early thirties, and was buried at the Couvent des Cordeliers in Paris. She was succeeded in Navarre by her eldest son, King Luis I, later Louis X of France, who was fifteen and a half - he and his brothers united the thrones of France and Navarre for a time.

Philip IV was said by a French chronicle to have poisoned Queen Jeanne, which seems highly unlikely. He was a widower for nearly ten years, and never re-married. Queen Isabella was probably only nine when she lost her mother, a little older than Edward II when he lost his - one thing at least that the mismatched couple had in common.

Paternal grandfather

Queen Isabella's paternal grandfather was Philip III, King of France. He was born on 30 April or 1 May 1245, the second son of Louis IX and Marguerite of Provence (whose sister Eleanor married Henry III of England). He became his father's heir in January 1260, when his elder brother Louis died at not quite sixteen; he and his son Philip IV both had elder brothers called Louis, who died young. In addition, Philip III had two older sisters, four younger brothers and three younger sisters.

He succeeded his father as King of France on 25 August 1270, at the age of twenty-five. Philip is known as le Hardi, the Bold, apparently because of his abilities in battle and on horseback, not because of his character - he was a timid, indecisive and rather incompetent man. He was twice married, to Isabella of Aragón [below], who died in 1271, and to Marie of Brabant. Isabella gave him four sons, of whom two survived childhood. He married Marie on 21 August 1274, and had a further three children by her: Louis d'Évreux, friend of Edward II, Marguerite, stepmother of Edward II, and Blanche, betrothed to Edward II from 1291 to 1294.

Philip III died at Perpignan on 5 October 1285, still only forty, while fighting against his former brother-in-law Pedro III of Aragón - a complex affair which led to Philip's son Charles de Valois being declared King of Aragón by Pope Martin IV, despite being only fourteen. Queen Marie outlived her husband by decades, surviving until January 1321. She also outlived all three of her children.

Paternal grandmother

Isabella of Aragón, after whom Queen Isabella was presumably named. Isabella was born, probably in 1247, as one of the younger daughters of King Jaime I el Conquistador of Aragón. She was the sister of, among others, King Pedro III; Violante, who married Edward II's uncle Alfonso X of Castile; Constanza, who married don Juan Manuel, brother of Alfonso X of Castile; and King Jaime II of Majorca. Isabella was also the aunt of King Alfonso III of Aragón, betrothed to Edward II's sister Eleanor, and King Jaime II of Aragón.

She married the future Philip III of France at Clermont-Ferrand on 28 May 1262. Philip was seventeen, Isabella fourteen or fifteen. Her first son Louis was born in 1265 or 1266, and died in 1276; she bore Philip three more sons, Philip IV (1268-1314); Robert (1269-1271); and Charles de Valois, ancestor of the Valois dynasty (March 1270-1325).

Queen Isabella accompanied her husband on the Eighth Crusade to Tunis. On the way back to France, they stopped at Cosenza, Calabria, where their third son Robert was taken ill and died, not yet two. Shortly afterwards, on 11 January 1271, Isabella, heavily pregnant with her fifth child, fell from her horse and suffered a stillbirth - it was yet another son. She died on 28 January 1271, and her body was taken back to France and buried in Saint-Denis. She was probably only twenty-three.

Maternal grandfather

Isabella's maternal grandfather was King Enrique I of Navarre, known in Spanish as Enrique el Gordo, in French as Henri le Gros, and in English as Henry the Fat. He was born around 1244 as the second son of King Thibaut/Teobaldo I of Navarre, who died in 1253. Enrique's elder brother, born abut 1238, reigned from 1253 to 1270 as Teobaldo II, and was married to Louis IX's daughter Isabelle. King Teobaldo II died childless on 4 December 1270 at Trapani, on his return from the ill-fated Eighth Crusade to Tunis, and was succeeded by Enrique.

Enrique, King of Navarre, Count of Champagne, Brie and Bigorre, married Louis IX's niece Blanche of Artois around 1269. They had a son, Thibaut, also known as infante don Teobaldo de Navarra, who died as a baby after he was dropped from the battlements of the castle of Estella by his nurse in 1273. Enrique also had an illegitimate son, don Juan Enríquez de Lacarra, who lived until 1323; however, his heir was his only surviving legitimate child, Queen Jeanne.

King Enrique's reign was unfortunately brief, and he died at Pamplona on 22 or 23 July 1274, still only about thirty, supposedly suffocated by his own fat. He was buried at Pamplona.

Maternal grandmother

Blanche of Artois was born about 1245/48 as the elder child of Robert, Count of Artois, and Matilda of Brabant. Count Robert was the brother of Louis IX of France, the closest brother in age to the king, born in September 1216 (Louis was born in April 1215). Matilda was a daughter of Duke Hendrik II of Brabant and a granddaughter of Philipp of Swabia, King of Germany, and Irene Angelina.

Blanche's brother Count Robert II of Artois was born posthumously in September 1250, about seven months after their father was killed during the Seventh Crusade. His daughter Mahaut is one of the main characters of Maurice Druon's Les Rois Maudits novels, and she was the mother of Jeanne and Blanche of Burgundy, who married two of Queen Isabella's brothers.

After Blanche was widowed from King Enrique, she married Edward I's brother Edmund of Lancaster, either in late 1275 or early 1276. Edmund was known as 'Crouchback' for reasons that are still discussed: whether he had a hunchback, or the name really means 'Cross back' because he was a Crusader, is still unclear.

Blanche bore Edmund four children: Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, that perpetual thorn in his cousin Edward II's side, executed in 1322; Henry, Earl of Lancaster, who died in 1345; John, a very obscure son who inherited some French lands from his parents and died there, childless, in 1317; and Mary, who died young. [Note: Thomas of Lancaster was thus, in addition to being Edward II's first cousin, the uncle of Queen Isabella, the younger half-brother of her mother, a fact frequently missed by historians.]

Blanche, Queen of Navarre, Countess of Lancaster, Champagne, Brie and Bigorre, lived in England while her little daughter Jeanne grew up in France; lives were hard for medieval royal mothers. She was widowed for the second time when Earl Edmund died in Bayonne on 5 June 1296. Blanche lived until 2 May 1302.

Queen Isabella's great-grandparents:

- Louis IX of France, 1215-1270, canonised 1297
- Marguerite of Provence, Queen of France. She was the eldest of the four daughters of Count Ramon-Berenger of Provence, who all became queens. She was born probably in 1221, married Louis IX in May 1234, was widowed in 1270, and lived until December 1295, when she was well into her seventies and a great-grandmother many times over. She enjoyed a very close relationship with her sister Queen Eleanor, Edward II's grandmother
- Louis IX's brother Count Robert of Artois, 1216-1250
- Matilda of Brabant, Countess of Artois and also Countess of St Pol by her second marriage, daughter of Duke Hendrik II of Brabant and granddaughter of Philipp of Swabia, King of Germany, and Irene Angelina, 1224-1288
- Jaime I el Conquistador, King of Aragon, 1208-1276
- Yolanda, Queen of Aragon, circa 1216-1252, daughter of King András II of Hungary
- Thibaut/Teobaldo I, King of Navarre (1201-1253), the Chansonnier or Troubadour. Wrote poetic homages to Blanche (Blanca) of Castile, mother of Louis IX and great-great-grandmother of Queen Isabella
- Marguerite de Bourbon, died 1256, Queen of Navarre, cousin of Guy de Dampierre, count of Flanders. Daughter of Archambaut VIII de Dampierre, lord of Bourbon

Queen Isabella died on 22 August 1358, probably aged sixty-two or sixty-three. Her eldest child Edward III was already in his mid-forties, her eldest grandchild Edward of Woodstock twenty-eight. She was one of the last of the Capets, the dynasty that ruled France from 987 to 1328, outlived only by her nieces Marguerite (daughter of Philip V) and Blanche (daughter of Charles IV), who both died in 1282.


Gabriele Campbell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gabriele Campbell said...

Argh, I should proofread before I click Publish. :(

Wow, Isabella's Scottish adventures top the gay relationship between Flavius Stilicho, magister militum per occidentem, and Alaric King of the Visigoths I found on a website.

Yes, it was serious 'information', not fiction with a clear disclaimer, like my little Arminius/Germanicus story.

Kathryn Warner said...

I remember that little story, Gabriele - it was lovely.

Yes, it's not often I've seen someone confuse Edward I and Edward III, realise that Isabella did rebel against Edward II but get the details totally wrong, and throw in the myth that Ed III imprisoned Isa in a convent. That takes some doing.

Susan Higginbotham said...

Great post!

Loved that bit about the adventurous Isabella. Someone must have really worked hard to get so many things wrong.

Unknown said...

Great post, I learned a lot! Not from the part at the beginning of course! ;)

"They had a son, Thibaut, also known as infante don Teobaldo de Navarra, who died as a baby after he was dropped from the battlements of the castle of Estella by his nurse in 1273."

What a horrible thing to happen to a baby, or indeed anyone! I wonder what happened to the nurse!

"King Enrique's reign was unfortunately brief, and he died at Pamplona on 22 or 23 July 1274, still only about thirty, supposedly suffocated by his own fat."

Pretty unique way to go!! ;)

Does anyone else find Eleanor of Provence's sister Marguerite fascinating? Her life would make a great novel!

Interesting about Isabella being the last of the Capets too - I never knew that!

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Liam!

I don't know what happened to little Teobaldo's nurse, but I can't imagine she prospered in her career. ;) It's odd, the same thing happened to the earl of Lincoln's infant son John in the 1270s or 1280s - he died after falling from a parapet at Pontefract castle. His brother Edmund drowned in a well at Denbigh castle.

I also find Marguerite fascinating! Hassles with her mother-in-law Blanche of Castile, going on Crusade, married to a saint...and she lived so long! Maybe you could get hold of Nancy Goldstone's Four Queens, about Marguerite and her sisters?

I suppose poor Enrique's death at least proves that obesity is not just a modern problem! :)

Yes - just like la reine Margot, wife of Henri IV, was the last Valois, Isabella was the last Capet.

Kathryn Warner said...

Oops, should have added: except for her niece Blanche, youngest daughter of her brother Charles IV. ;) But Blanche is so obscure I don't count her. ;)

Carla said...

"Where on earth did the writer of that get his information?!"
Out of his head, in the fine tradition of Geoffrey of Monmouth & co? It would make a great film....

Is it possible that Jeanne of Navarre raised an army and gave them their orders, and so 'led' them in that sense? Isabella of Castile did that sort of thing during the Reconquista, a couple of centuries later, so it was acceptable then. Unlikely that she led them into battle, though!

Kathryn Warner said...

Hehe, I'd forgotten all about Geoffrey of Monmouth - History of the Kings of Britain, I think it was?

The (infamous) PhD thesis that mentions Jeanne and her army just says "she raised an army and led her troops against him. She defeated him and held Henry prisoner under her own terms." To me, that reads as though she actually went into battle, but your theory makes far more sense! :)

Carla said...

Yes, it was History of the Kings of Britain. Mel Gibson (or whoever it was who had the editorial control on Braveheart) and Goefrrey would have got on splendidly together, don't you think?

The quote does sound as if Jeanne led her troops into battle, but that would be surely have been such a scandal it would have been all over the chroniclers, not to mention that she's unlikely to have had the skills. (I bet it's really hard to ride a war-horse side-saddle, and as for managing a lance...)

Kathryn Warner said...

The idea of a woman successfully leading her troops into battle sounds like the plot of a really bad novel - like the ones that have women beating men at swordplay or similar, despite the fact that the men would have been practising since the moment they were out of the cradle! :)

I bet Geoffrey and Mel would have become firm friends - and maybe Shakespeare would become a part of their gang, too...;)

Anonymous said...

Edward II and Isabella are my great(etc...) grandparents and your view on them is fascinating. I loved reading every bit of it! Thanks for a differnet and close to the fact look at them!
Lady Shirley

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Lady S! Glad you enjoyed it. Must he great to know you're descended from all these people - how cool to have an ancestor called Enrique the Fat. ;)

Anonymous said...

I too am descended from Isabella and Edward, and I believe we prefer Enrique le Grand Desosse. Sorry...didn't have the little accent thingy on my keypad.
AliaAaenor Lewis

hannibalparis said...

Hello everybody !

Very interesting site and blog

As a French, you'll probably excuse all the grammatical and so on faults contained in the following message.

I just wanted to precise a point :
Isabella was not the last Capetian. The dynasty never disappeared and still exist ("Le miracle capétien", as we say in French, for the perenity of this family prevented France from dynastic crisis or quarrel during all the monarchic times). Isabella was in fact "the last direct Capetian", that means she was the last representantive of the eldest branch of the family. After her brother's death, Charles IV, the throne fell to his cousin Philippe, according to the male primogeniture law (that deprived Isabella of her pretentions over the French crown for her son Edward, and was one of the Hundred Years War's causes). "Valois", "Angoulême", "Bourbon" are titles, not family names, and all the kings of France belonged to and were part of the Capetian family.
Nowadays, the chief of the Family is dmonseigneur Louis Alphonse de Bourbon, duc de Cadix et d'Anjou.

We perhaps can regret that France and England never happened to be the same kingdom : after all, few countries in Europe shared so many things that these two last. And I like both of them.

Last message to "Anonymous" : Le Désossé"… ;-)

Anonymous said...

"the Capet dynasty was extinct" (with the death of Philip IV's male descendants)

Not so. The Valois - as everybody call them improperly - are as much "Capet" as Philip IV.

For the rest : Thank You for this Blog ....