27 February, 2019

The Belongings of Madame Yzabel of France, 1308

Philip IV of France provided his daughter Isabella with a magnificent trousseau when she married Edward II in early 1308 and moved to England to be its queen. The inventory of Isabella's belongings - hurrah! - still exists in the Archives Nationales in France, and was published by Walter E. Rhodes at the end of the nineteenth century, in the original French. Here's a post about it. These are only a few highlights of all the many lovely things Isabella owned, but I hope the post gives a good idea of the kind of items she was surrounded by.

The inventory refers to Isabella as 'Madame Yzabel of France, queen of England', and begins with a list of 'jewels for the queen's body'. These included three crowns, presumably of gold though this is not stated, two gold circlets, a chaplet and two gold fastenings for a cloak, one in the shape of a fleur-de-lis and one shaped like two lions and studded with precious stones. Further down the list, another four crowns are specified and these certainly were of gold, some with precious stones, and Isabella had a 'belt of gold' as well and three hats or head-coverings (chapeauxwith rubies and emeralds. She had a gold chalice, more gold and silver cups than I can count, two gold spoons plus four dozen other spoons, six large plates and thirty-six others, a 'very beautiful' gold cross, and two enamelled silver basins. Four more basins 'for washing' are mentioned, plus another two 'for washing her head' and 'four other basins for washing'. Isabella had an alms-dish and a nef, i.e. 'ship', also intended for alms, fifty escueles, meaning bowls or dishes. There was a large number of items for her chapel, such as cloth to cover her altar, surplices for her chaplains, hangings for her oratory, a cushion and carpets to set before the altar, a leather chest for storing currently unused items for the chapel, a box for storing candles, a jug or pitcher for holy water, an ivory box with silver bands to contain the Host, a missal and a gradual, etc etc.

Some of the clothes Isabella took with her were: a gown of red samite (a kind of silk); a gown 'of cloth of gold of turquie in which she was married' (not sure what that word means, maybe Turkey; the word for 'turquoise' usually has an S in it); a gown of crimson veluel (velvet?) with a mulberry-coloured jacket; a 'very good' marbled red cloth for six sets of clothes; green cloth to make another six sets of clothes; and fur linings for her cloaks, both ermine and other varieties. Isabella was also provided with linen for her bedchamber and other private rooms, including fifteen pairs of curtains for her bed and 419 ells of linen for her bath, and a cloth of gold with lozenges of the arms of France and England to hang in a chamber and another with the arms of France only. She had a canopy for her bed with matching curtains (in addition to the fifteen pairs of curtains just mentioned), cushions, pillows, blankets, yet more bed curtains of sendal, ten chairs, a table, rugs, etc etc.

Finally, the queen had six horses to pull her coach plus ten more horses for her attendants' coaches, five palfreys for Isabella to ride and another four for her attendants, all with the necessary equipment such as saddles, saddle-cloths and harnesses. There were also housings for the queen's palfreys, i.e. ornamental cloths to drape over the horses.

1 comment:

sami parkkonen said...

Just reading this list makes one smile to those silly stories how she cried when Edward gave her necklace to Piers or what ever it was at her wedding. People who spread that baloney do not understand who much Isabella had. Or should I call her Yzabella Madame of France?

As for items one thing which really intrigued me was that Leather chest. I bet it was not just a box of hardened leather but magnificent piece of art as most likely every other item on this list. When one remembers that even most of the yeomen and free farmers were very proud if they owned a real pillow and or linen in any numbers, one can easily see how incredible surroundings and clothes the royals had.

As for this veluel. Could it mean velour? Just checked that out and it might be https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velour

When Isabella was decked out in her crimson gown and crowns and jewels she must have been looking like out of this world. And I bet Edward must have been proud of her as she seems to have understood the Bling bling as well as he did. What a magnificent couple they must have been together.