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  • Isabella of France

    Capable queen

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Who was she?

Aged just twelve, Isabella, daughter of Philip IV of France married Edward II in 1308. She was highly intelligent, with a keen understanding of politics. In 1312, two years before Bannockburn, she gave birth to a son - named Edward after his father - which helped to stablise her husband's political position.

After Bannockburn

In the 1320s, Isabella had to compete with her husband's current favourites, Hugh Despenser and his father (both Bannockburn veterans). In 1325, Isabella turned on her husband with devastating consequences. Visiting France on a diplomatic mission with her son Edward, the heir to the English throne, Isabella refused to return to England until the Despensers were removed from power. Then with the support of Roger Mortimer, a powerful English exile and possibly her lover, she returned to England, executed the Despensers and imprisoned her husband. Edward later died in mysterious circumstances.

Their 14-year-old son, Edward was declared king with Isabella and Mortimer ruling in his place. In 1330 Edward III executed Mortimer and removed Isabella from a position of power. She continued to assist her son in diplomacy however, and she died in 1358.

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