Isabella of Angouleme

Queen Consort of King John of England

Isabella of Angoulême, Queen Consort of John, King of England
Isabella of Angoulême, Queen Consort of John, King of England. © 2011 Clipart.com

Known for: Queen of England; rather fiery marriage to King John

Dates: 1186? or 1188? - May 31, 1246
Occupation: Countess of Angouleme, queen consort to John, King of England, one of the Plantagenet queens
Also known as: Isabella of Angoulême, Isabel of Angoulême

Family, Background

Isabella's mother was Alice de Courtenay, granddaughter of France's King Louis VI. Isabella's father was Aymar Taillefer, Count of Angouleme.

Marriage to John of England

Betrothed when very young to Hugh IX, Count of Lusignan, Isabella of Angouleme married John Lackland of England, son of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II of England. John had put aside his first wife, Isabella of Gloucester, in 1199. Isabella of Angoulême was twelve to fourteen years old at her marriage to John in 1200.

In 1202, Isabella's father died, and Isabella became Countess of Angouleme in her own right.

The marriage of Isabella and John was not an easy one. John was infatuated with his young and beautiful wife, but they both were reported to have engaged in adultery, and to have had strong tempers which they used on each other. When John suspected Isabella of having had an affair, he had her suspected lover hanged and then dangled above her bed.

Isabella and John had five children before John died in 1216. At John's death, Isabella's quick action had her son Henry crowned in Gloucester where they were at the time.

Second Marriage

Isabella of Angouleme returned to her homeland after John's death. There she married Hugh X of Lusignan, son of the man she'd been betrothed to before marrying John, and the man who was betrothed to her eldest daughter by John. Hugh X and Isabella had nine children.

Her marriage took place without permission of the English king's council, as would be required as queen dowager.

The resulting conflict including confiscating her Normandy dower lands, stopping her pension, and a threat by Isabella to keep Princess Joan from marrying the Scottish king. Henry III involved the Pope. who threatened Isabella and Hugh with excommunication. The English finally settled on compensation for her seized lands, and restoration of at least part of her pension. She supported her son's invasion of Normandy before he carried out that mission, but then failed to support him once he arrived. 

In 1244, Isabella was accused of conspiring against the French King to poison him, and she fled to the abbey at Fontevrault and hid for two years. She died in 1246, still hiding in the secret chamber. Hugh, her second husband, died three years later on crusade.  Most of her children from her second marriage returned to England, to the court of their half-brother.

Burial

Isabella had arranged to be buried outside the abbey at Fontevrault as penance, but some years after her death, her son, Henry III, King of England, had her re-interred beside her mother-in-law Eleanor of Aquitaine and father-in-law Henry II, inside the abbey.

Marriages

  • betrothed to: Hugh le Brun, Count of Lusignan
  • married to: John I of England, August 24, 1200
  • married to: Hugh X of Lusignan, Count of La Marche

Children of Queen Isabella of Angouleme and King John

  1. King Henry III of England, born October 1, 1207
  2. Richard, Earl of Cornwall, King of the Romans
  3. Joan, married Alexander II of Scotland
  4. Isabella, married Emperor Frederick II
  5. Eleanor, married William Marshall and then Simon de Montfort

Children of Isabella of Angouleme and Hugh X of Lusignan, Count of La Marche

  1. Hugh XI of Lusignan
  2. Aymer de Valence, Bishop of Winchester
  3. Agnes de Lusignan, married William II de Chauvigny
  4. Alice le Brun de Lusignan, married John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey
  5. Guy de Lusignan, killed at the Battle of Lewes
  6. Geoffrey de Lusignan
  7. William de Valence, Earl of Pembroke
  8. Marguerite de Lusignan, married Raymond VII of Toulouse, then married Aimery IX de Thouars
  9. Isabele de Lusignan, married Maurice IV de Craon then Geoffrey de Rancon