10 February, 2021

The Relationship of Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer (2)

In the last post, I looked at what we know and can prove about the relationship or alliance between Isabella of France and Roger Mortimer in 1325/26, looking at some of the primary-source evidence. The alliance that Queen Isabella made with the English exiles in France bore fruit, and she, her son Edward of Windsor, Roger Mortimer, Edward II's half-brother Edmund of Woodstock, earl of Kent, the count of Hainault's brother Sir John Beaumont, Edward II's former household steward Sir John Cromwell, and around 1500 others landed in Suffolk on 24 September 1326. Exactly two months to the day later, Hugh Despenser the Younger was executed in Hereford in Isabella's presence; she surely exulted at her victory over the man she hated and feared. 

On 16 November 1326, Edward II was captured and placed in the custody of Henry, earl of Lancaster and Leicester, his cousin and Isabella's uncle. Henry took the king to Kenilworth Castle, though as Lady D has pointed out, Henry was in Hereford for Hugh Despenser the Younger's trial and execution a few days later, so where was Edward then? As far as the official record shows, Edward II and Queen Isabella never saw each other again after 9 March 1325, when Isabella departed for her homeland to negotiate a peace settlement between her husband and her brother. As far as we can prove, the couple never came into each other's presence after Isabella's invasion, though, as Edward was in Henry of Lancaster's custody, and Henry was in Hereford with the queen to see Despenser tried and executed, it's possible that they did. The Bridlington chronicle, however, says that after the invasion, Edward's "counsellors", which must mean the Despensers and perhaps the earl of Arundel, prevented him from meeting the queen. [1]

An anonymous chronicle from Flanders gives a detailed and mostly accurate account of events in England in 1326. It says that sometime after Isabella's invasion - possibly after the executions of the two Hugh Despensers and the earl of Arundel - she and Edward met in his chamber, and she fell to her knees in front of her husband and begged him to "cool his anger" with her. Edward, however, refused to talk to her or to make any response at all, and wouldn't even look at her. [2] Whether Isabella, even at this late date, wished to reconcile with Edward is not clear, but at the very least she wished his forgiveness, if this chronicle can be taken as in any way accurate, and still accepted his authority as her lord to whom she owed obeisance. Edward, however, was so furious he couldn't look at her, and indeed, his anger is amply demonstrated by the way he referred to Isabella throughout 1326 simply as "our wife".

I find this account really interesting because narratives of the events of 1326 almost always assume that Edward II was just reacting to whatever Isabella did. It's taken for granted that the decision whether to resume their marriage or not lay with her, and she rejected him because she was in love with Roger Mortimer and was either actively 'repulsed' by her husband or at least indifferent to him, and angry because of his supposed cruelty to her over the previous few years. In this telling, Edward II is the one who's rejecting Isabella and is the one who's angry with her, and is an active agent in his fate and hers, at least as far as their personal relationship is concerned. Whether this meeting where Isabella fell to her knees in front of Edward happened or not, it's a reminder that we don't really, actually know what was going on between the couple behind the scenes and we can't see into their heads. The idea that Isabella rejected Edward because she'd fallen in love with Roger Mortimer is a narrative that's been created; it's not a 'fact'.

Michèle Schindler made an excellent point to me when we discussed Isabella's letter of 5 February 1326, where the queen stated that she wished nothing more than to be with her husband, but dared not return to him because she feared that her life was in danger from Hugh Despenser the Younger. Modern writers heap all kinds of invented trauma on Isabella and are desperate to turn her into the long-suffering tragic victim of her nasty cruel husband: Despenser raped or sexually assaulted her, her husband stole their children from her, insulted her by deliberately arriving late for their wedding, gave her wedding gifts to Gaveston, abandoned her when she was pregnant to save Gaveston, and so on and so on, ad nauseam. There's no evidence that Isabella herself thought that any of this happened. But when she says "yes, actually, I do feel like a victim of this man who controls my husband and his entire kingdom, and he terrifies me to the point where I believe he might even be the devil and might kill me," it's claimed that she's lying and making it all up because she needs an excuse to continue sleeping with Roger Mortimer. 

I'll look now at the chronicle evidence for Isabella of France and Roger Mortimer's relationship. Let's begin with the chronicles which state that something intimate did happen, or at least might have happened, between Isabella and Roger. The Chronicle of Lanercost, written at Lanercost Priory in the far north-west of England sometime after 1346, states in its account of Roger Mortimer's downfall in 1330 that "there was a liaison suspected between him and the lady queen-mother, as according to public report". [3] Geoffrey le Baker's Vita et Mors Edwardi Secundi, written some decades after the events of 1325 to 1330, says that in France in 1325/26, Isabella was "in the illicit embraces of Mortimer". [4] This is the most definitive statement on Isabella and Roger's relationship in an English chronicle. Adam Murimuth, a royal clerk and chronicler who knew Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer very well between 1327 and 1330, states that while they were in France in 1325/26, Isabella and Roger had an "excessive familiarity" or "remarkable intimacy" (nimiam familiaritatem), and that because of Roger and the other English exiles in France, the queen did not want to return to England. He hedges this bit of the chronicle slightly with the remark "it is said". Later in his work, Murimuth gives a long account of the charges against Roger at his trial in November 1330 including that he had Edward II suffocated to death at Berkeley Castle, but does not mention his relationship with Isabella again. [5]

Jean le Bel, from Liège in modern-day Belgium, served in Edward III's army during the disastrous campaign against Robert Bruce in 1327. He's a useful source as he was in England in the year of Edward II's deposition and reported death, though he didn't write up his account until decades later: he talks of "the duke of Lancaster who is currently one of the finest, worthiest knights alive". He must therefore have written his chronicle sometime between 1351, when Henry of Grosmont was made the first duke of Lancaster, and 1361, when Henry died. In his account of 1329/30, le Bel writes that "a rivalry began to grow between the noble earl of Kent, a most worthy and likeable gentleman, and Lord Mortimer, a strikingly strong and impressive knight who, rumour had it, was intimate with the king's mother both in secret and otherwise." He continues a few paragraphs later that "soon after [the earl of Kent's execution in March 1330], a dreadful rumour started - whether it was true I don't know - that the Queen Mother was pregnant, and Lord Mortimer more than anyone was suspected of being the father." [6] Chronicler Jean Froissart also states that Isabella was pregnant in 1330, but Froissart wasn't even born until about 1337 or 1338 and relied very heavily on Jean le Bel for his account of events in England from 1326 to 1330, so is not an independent source. No English chronicler so much as hints that Isabella was pregnant by Roger Mortimer at any time.

In his 2003 biography of Edward II, Roy Martin Haines says "A rumour had circulated that Mortimer, Isabella's "amasius" (lover), planned to usurp the kingdom." There is an endnote, but it states only "The same word [i.e. amasius] was used to describe Gaveston." [7] As no source is provided, I'm not sure if this is a direct quotation from a chronicle, or is just Haines using the word to describe what he thinks Roger was to Isabella. Jochen Burgtorf has pointed out that three chronicles indeed used the word amasius or 'lover' to describe Piers Gaveston's relationship to Edward II, albeit, as Burgtorf says, chronicles written decades after the two men's lifetimes. [8]

A greater number of chronicles do not say that Isabella and Roger had an intimate association. The Scalacronica of Sir Thomas Gray, whose father of the same name fought for Edward II at Bannockburn and later served in the retinue of Hugh Despenser the Younger (though Gray Jr fails to mention this embarrassing fact) talks of "the queen and her son and Roger de Mortimer, then chief of her council" when discussing the invasion of 1326. During Isabella and her son's time in France in 1325/26, Gray states "they entered into a conspiracy against their liege lord, husband and father, with the support of the people banished from England, the Lord of Mortimer and others." In its summary of the early years of Edward III's reign, the Scalacronica says that Edward was "in all things governed, and his realm also, by his mother and by Roger de Mortimer" and "Queen Isabella and Mortimer governed all England". While making it perfectly clear that Mortimer was the queen's co-ruler from 1327 to 1330, the chronicle says not a word about their personal relationship. [9] 

The French Chronicle of London does not mention Roger together with Isabella in any context until the arrival of their invasion in September 1326: "the queen of England and her son and the Mortimer [la reigne d'Engletere et son fitz et le Mortimer] and a great company of great lords and men-at-arms." In its account of 1328, it states that "Lady Isabella the queen, the king's mother, and Sir Roger Mortimer and others of their faction" (dame Isabele la roygne la mere au roy et sir Rogier Mortimer et autres de lour covyne) took part in the negotiations for Joan of the Tower's marriage to David Bruce of Scotland. These are the only things this chronicler says about Roger in connection to the queen. [10] Ranulph Higden's Polychronicon states that Isabella, her son Edward of Windsor and Roger Mortimer, "who had escaped from the Tower of London," landed in England with an armed force of Hainaulters in 1326. It says a bit later that Roger Mortimer, who made people call him earl of March, was arrested in Nottingham, taken to London and hanged, and well, um, that's it. [11]

The Bridlington chronicle Gesta Edwardi de Carnarvon states that during the period when Edward of Windsor was betrothed to Philippa of Hainault in the summer of 1326, Roger Mortimer "adhered to the queen", and names Roger as one of the men accompanying Isabella and her son during the invasion. The next mention of him is when he and Oliver Ingham, John Maltravers [sic], Simon Bereford, and Henry Burghersh, bishop of Lincoln, are arrested at Nottingham Castle in October 1330, and it says Roger was hanged. That's all the chronicler has to say about Roger Mortimer between 1325 and his death. [12] The Annales Paulini mentions Roger's involvement in the Contrariant rebellion and his escape from the Tower, and he's named in the list of the queen's adherents during the invasion, after the count of Hainault's brother and the earl of Kent, and before John Cromwell, Thomas Roscelyn and William Trussell. He's named as being present at the trials of both Hugh Despensers on 27 October and 24 November 1326, and there's a short account of his visit to the Guildhall in London in January 1327 before Edward II's deposition. His elevation to the earldom of March in 1328 appears, and a few weeks later he, Edward III and Queens Isabella and Philippa visit London. There's an account of his arrest and execution, but not a word about his relationship with the queen. [13]

The Middle English Brut says that while in France in 1325/26, Isabella allied herself with "the knights that were exiled out of England...that is to say, Sir Roger Mortimer of Wigmore, Sir William Trussell, Sir John Cromwell, and many other great knights". In its account of Isabella's journey to Hainault and Edward of Windsor's betrothal to Philippa, Roger appears fifth in the list of eight people who were arranging it. As other chroniclers also do, the Brut holds Roger partially accountable for the deeply unpopular marriage of Edward III's sister Joan of the Tower and Robert Bruce's son David in 1328, there's a long section about his pride and haughtiness and then his responsibility for the earl of Kent's execution/judicial murder in March 1330, and a detailed account of his downfall. It says almost nothing about Roger's relationship with Isabella except that he folwede [followed] Dame Isabell the Quene's court, was wonder privee with the Quene Isabell, and that Isabella made miche sorwe in hert (much sorrow in heart) when her son arrested him in October 1330. She asked the king and his friends to do Roger no harm, because he was our wel bilouede frende and our dere cosyn (well-beloved friend and dear cousin). [14] Wonder privee means that Roger was Isabella's close confidant and trusted adviser. The Brut (p. 257) also says that the Lancastrian knight Sir Robert Holland, killed by other Lancastrian knights in October 1328, was wonder pryve with Isabella, so if this expression is interpreted to mean that she was having an affair with Roger Mortimer, it must also mean that she was having an affair with Robert Holland. It also states that the men who killed Robert Holland had to hide from Isabella because she louede him wonder miche, she loved Holland exceedingly much, which is more than it says about her feelings for Roger Mortimer.

To me, this all seems like a pretty thin basis to be talking, as so many modern writers do (I mean writers of non-fiction, not novelists), about a flagrant affair that scandalised Europe, a relationship that was notorious and blatant, two people openly living together in adultery, an all-consuming bond, the great and passionate love affair of a lifetime, intense physical attraction, fiery passion. William Stubbs pointed out back in 1896 that "on the relations of the queen and Mortimer the chronicles of the time are very reticent." [15] With the exception of the Vita et Mors Edwardi Secundi, the chroniclers who do say that Isabella and Roger had or might have had an intimate relationship hedge it all about with "there was a suspicion", "rumour had it", "according to report", "I don't know if it's true", "it is said". Even assuming that fourteenth-century chroniclers exercised a bit of caution regarding what they wrote about Edward III's royal mother, the discrepancy between what they say and what modern writers say is remarkable. An article in the English Historical Review a few years ago states "it was notorious that Queen Isabella enjoyed an intimate relationship with Roger Mortimer" in 1327, without ever explaining where and among whom it was 'notorious', and how the author knows this. It's as though Isabella and Roger's sex life is such an established fact that even academic historians writing in prestigious peer-reviewed journals don't feel any need to cite sources for it. The article continues: "the queen's relationship with Mortimer could not be openly referred to; but rumourmongers may have whispered that this was the underlying motive for her refusal to return to her husband." Well, people may have said lots of things in 1327 for all we know, but did they? Is this an article in an academic journal of history or a piece in a celebrity gossip magazine? Another statement in an academic article states, also without citing a source, that Isabella's liaison with Roger "became public knowledge around Christmas 1325", and a third academic article of recent years states that at the time Isabella gave her famous 'three people in my marriage' speech in c. October 1325, she "had begun a liaison" with Roger Mortimer. Surprise surprise, no source is cited.  

In a book published by Cambridge University Press some decades ago, one author stated that Isabella "became the mistress" of Roger Mortimer when they were in France, and that "[t]here is no reason to doubt [Adam] Murimuth's statement that this was the case since he was, in the years 1327-30, a close confidant of Mortimer and Isabella." The reference given is p. 45 of Murimuth's chronicle, which says, as noted above, that the two had an excessive familiarity. It's entirely possible that Murimuth was dealing in euphemism, but claiming that he states outright that Isabella became Roger's "mistress" strikes me as quite a leap. Perhaps he meant his "excessive familiarity" remark in the same sense as the Brut's wonder privee and the Scalacronica's "chief of her council". Edward II's proclamation of 8 February 1326 and his letter to his son of 19 March 1326 both say that Isabella had taken on Roger Mortimer as her adviser.

One modern writer claims that Isabella and Roger "plunged headlong into an adulterous affair" in 1325, citing Adam Murimuth and the Vita Edwardi Secundi. The Vita does not say a single word about their association. The last mention of Roger Mortimer in the text is his submission to Edward II in January 1322 - he and his uncle Roger Mortimer of Chirk "deserted their allies and threw themselves on the king's mercy" and the remaining Contrariants were "in tears" when they told the earl of Lancaster about it - though a leaf of the manuscript is missing from 1323 where it might have discussed his escape from the Tower. And again, Murimuth's statement about the familiarity/intimacy between Isabella and Roger is doing a lot of heavy lifting: it's now been upgraded to "plunged headlong into an adulterous affair". I keep seeing all these non-fiction accounts which state that Isabella and Mortimer were openly together in a passionately loving and sexual relationship by Christmas 1325 and that lots of people knew it, but either no sources are cited, or when they are, they don't actually say what modern writers claim they say. 

A book review published in The Guardian a few years ago says that Edward II and Hugh Despenser the Younger's relationship was "certainly not sexual". This is asserted with such utter conviction that I assume the author watched eight years of webcam footage from Edward's bedchamber. The review also states that Edward's relationship with Piers Gaveston was "probably not sexual", but twice in the piece, Roger Mortimer is called Isabella's "lover" as though this is a certain fact and the reviewer saw them in bed together. An academic article calls Isabella "the only certain adulteress" among medieval English queens (and later mentions her "known adultery"), and in the very next line states that the "striking lack of contemporary tales of her adultery" is puzzling. This writer, and another author a few years earlier, assume that the contemporary "silence" over Isabella's adulterous relationship with Roger Mortimer was deliberate, because a) Edward II was humiliated at being cuckolded and did not wish to make the fact public, b) Edward III, as a king born in a hereditary monarchy, had obvious reasons to conceal his mother's adultery, or c) English writers also had good reasons to conceal the fact that their king might not have been the son of Edward II, especially after he claimed the throne of France. Nowhere is the possibility raised that a majority of fourteenth-century chronicles are "silent" on Isabella's adultery because they hadn't heard that she'd committed adultery, or even, perhaps, just maybe, there's the tiniest sliver of the tiniest chance that there was no adultery. I know, I know, crazy talk. This happens over and over and over and over and over in modern writing. Every piece of evidence that Edward II might have loved Piers Gaveston and Hugh Despenser romantically and/or sexually - the important presence of Roger Damory and Hugh Audley in his life between 1315 and c. 1318/19 is usually ignored - is placed under a microscope, examined in isolation, and nitpicked out of existence. By contrast, the notion that Roger Mortimer was Queen Isabella's "lover" and that she was a "certain adulteress" is treated with the unquestioning reverence that some people accord to Holy Writ, and has become essentially unfalsifiable: the "puzzling" silence of contemporaries on the matter and the absence of compelling evidence are taken as evidence that adultery certainly occurred.

The idea that Isabella and Roger fell in love is an assumption. It's not an unreasonable one, and their relationship, or association, lasted from c. early 1326 until Roger's arrest in October 1330, so it endured for a number of years and seems to have been very close. There's no doubt whatsoever that Roger wielded considerable influence from 1326/27 to 1330 as a result of his personal relationship with the dowager queen and her own relationship with her underage son Edward III. But does this automatically mean that he and Isabella were in love and/or having sex? Hugh Despenser the Younger also wielded considerable influence from c. late 1318 or early 1319 until November 1326 as a result of his personal relationship with Edward II. Do we also assume that the two men absolutely must have been lovers and must have had a passionate, fiery love affair for the ages? I think it's beyond doubt that Edward had feelings for Hugh and Isabella had feelings for Roger, and it's definitely possible that both the king and queen fell in love with and had sex with their respective 'favourites'. But where's all the evidence that Isabella of France and Roger Mortimer had an adulterous affair that was so notorious and flagrant and scandalous and conducted so openly and blatantly that numerous writers don't even feel the need to cite a source when they talk about it?


1) Gesta Edwardi de Carnarvon, in W. Stubbs, ed., Chronicles of the Reigns of Edward I and Edward II, vol. 2, pp. 86-7.
2) Extraits d'une Chronique Anonyme intitulée Ancienne Chroniques de Flandre in Recueil des Historiens des Gaules et de France, ed. M. Bouquet et al, vol. 22, p. 425.
3) The Chronicle of Lanercost 1272-1346, ed. H. Maxwell, pp. 266-7.
4) Vita et Mors Edwardi Secundi, in Stubbs, ed., Chronicles of the Reigns of Edward I and Edward II, vol. 1, p. 307.
5) Adae Murimuth Continuatio Chronicarum, ed. E.M. Thompson, pp. 45-6, 61-4.
6) The True Chronicles of Jean le Bel 1290-1360, trans. N. Bryant, pp. 28, 58-9.
7) Roy Martin Haines, King Edward II: His Life, His Reign, and Its Aftermath, 1284-1330, pp. 216, 462 note 214.
8) Jochen Burgtorf, 'With my Life, his Joyes Began and Ended: Piers Gaveston and King Edward II of England Revisited', Fourteenth Century England V, ed. Nigel Saul, p. 40.
9) Scalacronica: The Reigns of Edward I, Edward II and Edward III as Recorded by Sir Thomas Gray, ed. and trans. H. Maxwell, pp. 71-2, 79, 82-4, 86-7.
10) Croniques de London, ed. G. J. Aungier, pp. 51, 61.
11) Polychronicon Ranulphi Higden, vol. 8, ed. J.R. Lumby, pp. 319-21, 327-9.
12) Gesta Edwardi de Carnarvon, pp. 85-6, 101-2.
13) Annales Paulini, in Stubbs, Chronicles of the Reigns, vol. 1, pp. 314, 317, 319, 322, 342-3, 352.
14) The Brut or the Chronicles of England, ed. F.W.D. Brie, part 1, pp. 233-4, 246-7, 257, 261-2, 268-71.
15) Cited in F.D. Blackley, 'Isabella and the Bishop of Exeter', Studies in Medieval History Presented to Bertie Wilkinson, ed. T.A. Sandquist and M.R. Powicke, p. 221.


Anonymous said...

Would a contemporary chronicler even get an idea that Mortimer and Isabelle might be planning an invasion together? IMO, Mortimer and Isabella were spending a lot of time together planning the invasion -- and I doubt that any one in the era would suspect that a woman was involved in that! After all, at the time, didn't they think women weren't suitable for that kind of thing?


Kathryn Warner said...

Well, all of these chronicles (except the Vita, which ends abruptly in late 1325) were written after the invasion, and they all knew Isabella had taken part in it and all mentioned her involvement.

sami parkkonen said...

Dear Esther: There were several women in medieval times taking charge of things in the absence of a husband or any other male co-ruler. And sometimes even when there was a husband who could not do so for what ever reason. In the Continent some Duchesses did so, some ladies of lower rank etc.

The idea that a woman, a Queen in this case, could not have done these things without a man is Victorian age "gift" to us, For the Victorian men women were seen just like in our times in the strict codes in Islam. Women are always under a man regardless and thus can not be independent agents of their destiny. Thus Isabella had to be under Mortimer just like any other woman must be under a man.

Earlier people knew that women could rule and command, from Cleopatra to Empress Theodora of Byzantium, to Eleanor of Aquitania to even a very influential writer Christine de Pizan who was a powerhouse in medieval literature, to a teenage girl Joan of Arc, who lead the army of France in the absence of the king with the official generals of the realm. And there were many more.

Isabella was an astute politician, she was trained to be a Queen, a born royal, educated and well versed in subjects concerning her role as a Queen. She needed English men in her army coming from France and she got them among the exiles. Mortimer was well known in that group and she picked him up as a war leader a general of this troop. She needed him to protect her in case thing went badly and even after the coup. What she did not need was a lover with whom danger everything. She did not need a scandal of that sort since the coup was scandalous enough. What she needed was something to back her up and Mortimer leading the exiles was that back up.

I've said this thousands of times and forgive me if you are tired of hearing it, but she had just one agenda: making her son the king of England. Everything she did was for this goal. Once it was obvious that Edward was siding with Hugh (who no doubt told Edward how this FRENCH woman was his enemy and in cahoots with her French relatives etc.) Isabella needed men to make sure her son would be the king one day. And she got those men. Once her son was old enough to take the reigns she made sure he did it. How? By betraying Mortimer in Nottingham castle to her son.

Did Hugh plan to kill her? He must have been thinking about that option too for it was obvious that one day they would have to face off for the position next to the King. Hugh wanted it and got it and was going to keep it. I have no doubt that Isabella calculated that sooner or later he would have to murder her and perhaps her son in order to stay in power. And let us not forget; Hugh must have known that if and when Isabella would get powerful enough, she would make a mince meat out of him (just like she did eventually). So I bet they both knew that their personal relationship would be solved only when one of them was dead. And let us not forget what happened: Isabella outsmarted and out played Hugh who was no fool and who was very dangerous man.

So Roger Mortimer was only one man around Isabella in these turbulent times. Yes, he was the most visible and perhaps most powerful one AS LONG AS SHE LET HIM BE.

Karen Hill said...

Sami... Yes to all of these things. Why people think women sat around sewing all through the medieval period is a complete mystery. Strong women come to the fore time and again, you just have to look for them a little harder as history was written down mostly by men!
Queen Mathilda (Stephen & Mathilda) sliding her way, by rope, down the outside of a castle and escaping with her band of soldiers. Eleanore of Aquitaine...enough said. Nichola de la Haye at Lincoln Castle seige, the women that Edward 2 put in charge of his castles, trusting them, that they had the wit, the brains and the courage just as much as his earls, knights and soldiers. I suppose according to some writers just as Isabella couldn't possibly have know how plan without jumping into bed with Mortimer none of these other women were capable of doing their job/planning without finding and jumping into bed with some ambitious, lust filled knight in armour. 😂😂
These women didn't just have one man wrapped around their little finger, they commanded and earned the respect of castle garrisons and army's.

Anonymous said...

I agree that a lot of women "took charge' during the medieval period, but it seems that many of them got the same type of accusation that Isabella got -- Empress Matilda was supposed to be having an affair with one of her knights, for example. However, I wasn't thinking of what actually occurred; I was thinking more of how the chroniclers might have interpreted what they saw.


sami parkkonen said...

you are right. Many women who were in the position of power and who wielded some power were facing all kinds of rumors and backstabbing etc. in their life time. That is true but the men also faced all kinds of rumors etc. Edward II being one of them.

What we inherited from the Victorian age has been clouding the field of history for a long time. During Victorian age the society was almost absolutely the domain of men. Maybe it was unconscious backlash for the long rule of Queen Victoria or what ever, but the general attitude was that women stayed at home and were weak and completely under the guard ship of their men folk, husbands, fathers, brothers etc. Specially in the upper levels of the society women were almost invisible from the public life which was for men only.

The Historians of that age assumed that societies had always been this way and if not they must be seen that way. Behind every woman was a man. Cleopatra was just looking for a male protector all her life and ran to the Roman strong men because she could not be an independent operator and politician. Thus she was at the mercy of Roman lovers, generals, Caesar and Antonius etc. Without them she was just a rich girl who did not know what to do with her inheritance. And so was with every other famous woman in history, Isabella included. That was the way Victorian history was written and it carried on for decades and decades and it is still effecting the western thinking today.

That is why so many historian and writers can not accept the fact that Isabella was in the center of the coup, it was hers, she lead the way, she got resources, she gathered the alliance and men, the money and it was her who convinced the majority of the barons that they should join her. Many writers and historians simply can not see this even though if you look at the whole picture it is Isabella who is at the center of the whole web. Everything leads to her. Without her Mortimer and all the exiles would have lived their lives in exile.

So all these people who can not accept the facts are looking for a male, any male, who could explain why she managed to topple Edward, wipe out Hugh and get her son to the throne, because she could not do it. A Woman just can not be that resourceful, smart, brave, active etc. And so there is Mortimer. It must be him! He is the Man. It was him all the time. It must be! But how?

Well... She fell in love with him. She needed him. She was desperately in love with him! That is why she let him organize the whole thing, win the fight and so on. Oh, but why?

Well, look at her husband! He is a Gay. He hated women because he was Gay. He hated Isabella and treated her horribly because he was a Gay and hated women in general and her very much. That is the reason why Isabella fell in love with Mortimer, who was NOT gay. And that is why he could satisfy Isabella in bed and why she followed him and let him be the superhero. Right?

Eh, no.

That is not what happened at all. That is the false fictional narrative the people who carry on the Victorian idea of female sex, the weakness and frailty of women, the lack of intelligence and will power of women, tell again and again. They wish it was true so they twist the facts and invent their own details in order to keep this false narrative up. Because if you look at the facts with cool calculative mind set you can see that it was Isabella, not Mortimer, who made it happen. Mortimer was just along for a ride.

Sansa said...

I highly doubt Isabella and Roger's relationship was sexual. There relationship was political. Isabella needed strong capable English Noble men to join her in her coup.
Isabella's goal was to put her son on the throne.
If Isabella and Roger we're having an affair and it was well known, wouldn't the French have used it against her son Edward iii. Remember Anne Boleyn, the lies that were made up against her affected her daughter Elizabeth I.

eimeara said...

Hi Sansa

I think it was both. It probably started out as political but could have spilled into something stronger. We'll never know.
As for the French using the affair against Edward - well I am not sure why they would at that point, firstly Edward's parentage was beyond doubt, its not as if he was illegitimate and secondly Roger was long dead at that point and forgotten about and was never significant to them. It seems pointless to bring up something that was no longer relevant and at that point Isabella was rehabilitated living a respectful life.
But that's just my opinion.