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Alianore
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PostSubject: Isabella   Mon Oct 01, 2007 12:16 pm

Isabella was royal to her fingertips, the daughter of the king of France and the queen of Navarre. She was extravagant beyond belief, avaricious, and led a rebellion against her husband.

But did she consent to his death? Was she an appalling person, or are her actions understandable and justified? What are your views on Isabella?
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Kate Plantaganet

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PostSubject: Re: Isabella   Wed Oct 03, 2007 11:46 am

What would drive a woman to want to kill her husband? Her son was going to be king anyway...or was she so in love with Mortimer that she wanted him to reign with her??
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PostSubject: Re: Isabella   Wed Oct 03, 2007 11:52 am

Kate - personally, I'm not at all convinced that Isabella did want to kill her husband. Wink But I suppose she was so sick of Edward's behaviour that she didn't feel she could wait several decades until he died.

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Kate Plantaganet

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PostSubject: Re: Isabella   Wed Oct 03, 2007 12:24 pm

Do you think Mortimer was her 'out' or did she care for him - I know that is hard to tell from 'dry' documents....
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PostSubject: Re: Isabella   Wed Oct 03, 2007 12:33 pm

Kate: hard to tell, as you say. However, I do think that Isabella did have genuinely strong feelings for Mortimer, as demonstrated 1327 to 1330. She pretty much allowed him to do anything he wanted, gave him lots of lands and power, and even tolerated his disrespect of the king, her son (Mortimer was notorious for remaining seated in the king's presence, walking alongside him or even ahead of him, etc).

Alison Weir points out in her bio of Isa that the queen could easily have 'escaped' from Mortimer, if she'd wanted to - many people would have been willing to help her. But she evidently didn't.

Early on in the relationship, it *may* have been the case that it was a political marriage of convenience - that Isabella realised that Mortimer represented her best chance of getting rid of the Despensers, and so on. (He was a born leader, a great soldier, intelligent and capable.) But for me, her actions after 1327 suggest that she was genuinely infatuated with him and either couldn't see or deliberately ignored the fact that his (and her) actions were causing widespread discontent.

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"Sans lui n'estoit rien fait, et par lui estoit tous fait, et le creoit li rois plus que tout le monde." Without him nothing is done and through him everything is done, and the king trusts him more than any other: Hugh Despenser the Younger and Edward II
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PostSubject: Re: Isabella   Wed Oct 03, 2007 12:38 pm

Is there any evidence that they had children? They were 'together' for a few years, it seems surprising if they didn't...

Mortimer! So arrogant. Sounds like a psychopath (in the true meaning of the word) to me. If he was, then he would have been incredibly charming...so Isabella would have fallen under his spell!
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PostSubject: Re: Isabella   Wed Oct 03, 2007 12:43 pm

It's possible that Isabella had a child by Mortimer, who may have been born (stillborn, presumably) in late 1329, or that Isabella was pregnant at the time of Mortimer's downfall and miscarrried, or suffered a stillbirth. But it's not certain.

I see Roger as an intelligent, charming, ruthless man who, like so many others, let power go to his head. Wink But I find it easy to understand why Isabella was infatuated with him. Very Happy

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Kate Plantaganet

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PostSubject: Re: Isabella   Wed Oct 03, 2007 12:46 pm

Very interesting. When you say she was extravagant, how so? What did she spend on? I am interested! We come to expect a queen/king to be a bit extravagant...
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PostSubject: Re: Isabella   Wed Oct 03, 2007 12:51 pm

Well, in the last year of her life, 1357-58, she spent 1400 on jewellery. To put that into perspective, most people in England earned maybe 5 or 10 a year, or less. Smile

Mostly, she would have spent money on jewels and clothes - hehe, there wasn't much else to buy in the 14th century. Wink In 1327, Isabella granted herself an income of 20,000 marks a year (13,333) - the highest income anyone in England had ever received up to that point! Even her uncle Thomas of Lancaster only had 11,000 a year, and he held 5 earldoms!!

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Kate Plantaganet

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PostSubject: Re: Isabella   Wed Oct 03, 2007 12:57 pm

Right! That certainly puts it into perspective. That is a great deal of money. Almost as if she is trying to buy something other than pretty jewels. She certainly wanted to be looked at didn't she? I wonder if she felt unworthy and needed to spruce herself up...or she may have just loved beautiful things..


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PostSubject: Re: Isabella   Wed Oct 03, 2007 12:58 pm

I have googled Castle Rising. It looks amazing, remarkably well preserved! I went to
http://www.castlerising.com/
and looked at the gallery...
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PostSubject: Re: Isabella   Wed Oct 03, 2007 1:15 pm

Oh, come on, neither one of them ever killed the king! I believe in the story that the king escaped and went abroad where he lived for many years. There is evidence proving it.
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PostSubject: Re: Isabella   Wed Oct 03, 2007 1:17 pm

Great! Tell us the story - or should I say tell ME the story - I am sure Alianore knows it already, but for the uninitiated....
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PostSubject: Re: Isabella   Wed Oct 03, 2007 1:55 pm

Both Alison Weir and Sir Ian Mortimer make reference in their books to one letter, discovered in the late 19th century at Montpellier, adressed by one Manuel de Fieschi, papal notary, to King Edward III. The Italian priest says the he confessed the late King Edward II and then goes on telling the story he heard, that one of the servants at Berkley castle offered his clothes to Edward in order to help him escape. At twilight, they went out of prison, the ex-king not being recognised. Edward killed the porter, who was asleep. They went to castle Corfe, where they stayed hidden for a year and a half. Then, they went to Ireland by ship. Afterwards, they returned to England, went to Sandwich and took a ship to Normandy, went on through Languedoc and reached Avignon, where Edward had a meeting with the Pope. After which, Edward went to Italy, where he remained in a monastery.

There is some further circumstantial evidence that Edward III even met his father in 1338 at Koblenz.


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PostSubject: Re: Isabella   Wed Oct 03, 2007 1:57 pm

Absolutely fascinating. What a great story. Thanks for relating it here.
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PostSubject: Re: Isabella   Wed Oct 03, 2007 4:59 pm

I have always thought Isabella much maligned. She had a lot to put up with because of the way Edward's favourites treated her. He probably wasn't what she expected in a royal husband either as he wasn't very kingly & she was proud of her royal status.

You should visit Castle Rising & listen to the audio tour provided. Really makes you feel you know Isabella when she lived there.
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PostSubject: Re: Isabella   Wed Oct 03, 2007 5:19 pm

Calling her a she-wolf may be harsh but she certainly had blood on her hands and as Hugh the Younger found out she wasn't a person to mess with. I think the standard view of her is as the wronged woman which is probably fair, Edward wasn't a model husband. I would say that Edward has been far more maligned than Isabella, some people just shouldn't be in charge!
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PostSubject: Re: Isabella   Wed Oct 03, 2007 6:32 pm

Isabella wasn't really maligned much in her own day, but was rather considered a strong ruler by many - much loved by the English people, it seems. It was only quite a bit later that she was coined the "she-wolf" (several hundred years later, I think?).

Anyway, in reading about Isabella through my recent studies of the last Capetians, I concur that she could be ruthless, was supremely aware of her royal dignity (which is another aspect that put her at odds with Edward, I think, considering his enjoyment of mingling with commoners etc Wink ), and was by all accounts very beautiful. One would expect some fawning etc in terms of written documents by contemporaries describing her, in that the writers themselves were oftentimes closely aligned with her/the French court from which she came. But even some of her "enemies" begrudgingly described her as one of the "fairest women in Christendom". As an aside some of you might find interesting, her three brothers (who were in turn kings of France for short periods in their own rights) were all described as tall and exceedingly fair (as in handsome, not necessarily blond) as well. Some good genes, there! Wink

And Isabella in particular seems to have been very much her father's daughter. King Philip the Fair was also tall and handsome, much concerned with the royal dignity of the French throne. He was also the French king who single-handedly brought the papacy into his control (and moved its seat from Rome to Avignon, where it stayed for more than 100 years) and brought about the destruction of the Templar Order (even though its Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, was Isabella's godfather! He died at miserable death at the stake at King Philip's command).

Isabella and her birth family are so interesting to me in so many ways, though unfortunately there isn't much written (in English) about them, and some of that seems to be poorly researched (whether through sloppiness or lack of information. the French, strangely enough, didn't seem to keep the kinds of records about important events like births, deaths , and marriages, the way the English did).

Fascinating stuff, any way you look at it!


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PostSubject: Re: Isabella   Wed Oct 03, 2007 7:29 pm

King Phillippe was indeed a strong man. His nickname in history is "The Iron King". He also determined the death of a Pope and the election of a new one, favourable to his policy (and held the cardinals imprisoned until they voted). His three sons, Louis, Phillippe and Charles might have resembled him physically, but none of them had his strength. I think Isabella was the only one that inherited some of the strength of her father and also his pride and sense of royalty.

As for the Templars, even if King Phillipe asked Edward of England to take steps against them, he didn't agree. Templars continued to live in England for a while after they have been destroyed in France.
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PostSubject: Re: Isabella   Wed Oct 03, 2007 8:19 pm

elflady wrote:
King Phillippe was indeed a strong man. His nickname in history is "The Iron King". He also determined the death of a Pope and the election of a new one, favourable to his policy (and held the cardinals imprisoned until they voted). His three sons, Louis, Phillippe and Charles might have resembled him physically, but none of them had his strength. I think Isabella was the only one that inherited some of the strength of her father and also his pride and sense of royalty.

As for the Templars, even if King Phillipe asked Edward of England to take steps against them, he didn't agree. Templars continued to live in England for a while after they have been destroyed in France.

Interesting - I'd thought the moniker "The Iron King" for Philip IV, was solely from the Maurice Druon novel by the same name (from his series "The Accursed Kings" - which I've admittedly never read myself but have rather read about); I hadn't realized it pre-dated Druon's work, as I'd only ever heard reference to Philip IV in reference texts etc as "the Fair" or "the Handsome".

As for his sons, I agree that Louis and perhaps Charles as well seem lacking in the sense of purpose and strength their father possessed (though both reigned so short a time I find it difficult to judge them too harshly Wink )...but I'd have to disagree in regards to Philip V. He seems to have been in the process of turning the kingdom around again after his older brother Louis's brief reign. In fact, he was poised to bring back many of his father's policies, which had been abandoned by Louis (who seems to have been under a great deal of influence from his uncle Charles Valois, among others). I think Philip V would have proved as strong and purposeful (to a fault sometimes, perhaps) a leader as his father had been, if he hadn't died so prematurely (in his twenties).

But I do agree that Isabella was very much like her father. By all accounts, she was also a "daddy's girl", LOL, and it appears that many of the boons/favors he granted to England and Edward II in the few years Edward and Isabella were married before Philip IV's death were always granted with the noted commentary (in the written records) that Isabella was present at the time of the favor being granted. Smile No favors (to my knowledge) were given to Edward alone, without Isabella either present or serving as the supplicant for the favor.

As for the Templars...yes, Edward II seems to have been pre-disposed to be supportive of them, as had been his father, Edward I, before him. It must have been a tricky situation for Edward II, considering that his marriage to Isabella was slated to take place in January 1308, and King Philip had the Templars arrested en masse in October 1307. I imagine there must have been some interesting tension for Edward, political and otherwise, because of that. But you're right that he didn't offer an official command to detain/arrest the Templars in England until he was issued a direct order from the pope himself (Clement - who was indeed King Philip's "chosen pope" - but who was highly peeved with Philip for having taken the action he did against the Templars without the Church's approval).

Another interesting point concerning the Templar case is that no other country except for France subjected the Templars to direct, no-holds-barred torture during the inquisition against them, because none of the other countries' kings would sanction it. That's why the testimony given by the Templars in France is often so different (and far more damning) than the testimony obtained elsewhere.

I truly believe that many of the rulers involved in the issue - and even the pope himself - likely thought the Order was mostly if not entirely innocent of the charges levied against it by Philip IV. And in fact the bull that Clement eventually issued against the Order in 1312 was only to suppress it, not to condemn it; he was careful to assert that his only reason for supressing the Order was that it could no longer fulfill its purpose after five years of inquisitorial hearings etc, as it had sustained too much in the way of scandal to function in a meaningful way any longer. So after five years of torture, testimony, hearings, and inquisitorial proceedings against the Templars, Clement was never able to feel comfortable in asserting that they were actually guilty of anything.

Philip IV, on the other hand, confessed on his deathbed to having allowed avarice to influence many of the actions/decisions of his reign...and he exhorted his heir, Louis, to avoid the same, but rather to try to model himself after Philip's grandfather, the sainted Louis IX. Some interesting food for thought! Wink
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elflady

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PostSubject: Re: Isabella   Thu Oct 04, 2007 7:22 pm

Great post, Mary! Thanks for the detailed info.
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Kate Plantaganet

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PostSubject: Re: Isabella   Fri Oct 05, 2007 5:17 am

I agree, thanks for such great input Mary
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PostSubject: Re: Isabella   Fri Oct 05, 2007 6:02 am

Oh - I'm glad to have provided something of interest! (and glad, too, that my blathering on wasn't held against me Wink )

I seem to have a tendency to go on and on when it comes to the later Capetians, so if I do end up posting anything snooze-inducing, please do let me know, and I'll adjust, LOL.

In the meantime, I'll have to hie myself over to the thread Alianore posted about Isabella's birth family, in the lower part of the list on the home page. Perhaps I'll do that in the next day or so, however...because at the moment I'm off for bed in readiness to leave for the day job eight short hours from now. Sigh. Oh, to be independently wealthy and simply write all day instead of teaching/going to meetings/grading endless papers... Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Isabella   Wed Nov 28, 2007 12:52 pm

I do think Isabella "fell" for the handsome and "manly" Mortimer. Obviously, for her, Edward II was a bit of a let-down in the macho stakes, and having been neglected by Edward, both physically and emotionally, Mortimer appeared to provide her with all those things Edward couldn't or wouldn't.

I believe her attachment grew and, just like Edward before her, she bcame blinded by Mortimer's lust for power, once he attained it.

I don't think, initially, either wanted Edward dead, but from a purely political point of view, it would have been "political suicide" not to have rid of him. Isabella may well have been reluctant and therefore quite happy to let Mortimer arrange for the deed to be done. She could then say "not me!! it was all Mortimer" should the proverbial hit the fan, as it did.

But for proof of her love for Mortimer, she pleaded for him when Edward III arrested him - "be gentle with good Mortimer" or words to that effect.
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PostSubject: Re: Isabella   Wed Nov 28, 2007 1:03 pm

But none of them two did the deed, as recent studies prove that Edward lived on the continent for many more years after!
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