Isabella of France

England's Queen Isabella, "She-Wolf of France"

Isabella of France
Isabella of France. Print Collector / Getty Images

About Isabella of France

Known for: Queen Consort of Edward II of England, mother of Edward III of England; leading campaign with her lover, Roger Mortimer, to depose Edward II

Dates: 1292 - August 23, 1358

Also known as: Isabella Capet; She-Wolf of France

More About Isabella of France

Daughter of King Philip IV of France and of Jeanne of Navarre, Isabella was married to Edward II in 1308 after years of negotiations. Piers Gaveston. a favorite of Edward II, had been exiled the first time in 1307, and he returned in 1308, the year Isabella and Edward married.   Edward II gave the wedding gifts from Philip IV to his favorite, Piers Gaveston, and it soon became clear to Isabella that Gaveston had, as she complained to her father, taken her place in Edward's life. She attempted to muster support from her uncles in France, who were in England with her, and even from the Pope.  The Earl of Lancaster, Thomas, who was both a cousin of Edward and a half-brother of Isabella's mother, promised to help her rid England of Gaveston.  Isabella did gain the support of Edward in favoring the Beaumonts, to whom she was related.

Gaveston was exiled again in 1311, returned though the order of exile prohibited it, and was then hunted down and executed by Lancaster, Warwick and others.

Gaveston was killed in July of 1312; Isabella was already pregnant with her first son, the future Edward III, who was born in November 1312. More children followed, including John, born in 1316, Eleanor, born in 1318, and Joan, born in 1321. The couple traveled to France in 1313, and traveled to France again in 1320. 

By the 1320s, Isabella and Edward II's dislike of each other had escalated, as he spent more time with his favorites. He supported one group of nobles, especially Hugh le Despenser the Younger (who may also have been Edward's lover) and his family, and exiled or imprisoned others who then began to organize against Edward with the support of Charles IV (the Fair) of France, Isabella's brother.

Isabella of France and Roger Mortimer

Isabella left England for France in 1325. Edward tried ordering her to return, but she claimed to fear for her life at the hands of the Despensers.

By March of 1326, the English had heard that Isabella had taken a lover, Roger Mortimer. The Pope tried to intervene to bring Edward and Isabella back together.  Instead, Mortimer helped Isabella with efforts to invade England and depose Edward.

Mortimer and Isabella had Edward II murdered in 1327, and Edward III was crowned king of England, with Isabella and Mortimer as his regents.

In 1330, Edward III decided to assert his own rule, escaping likely death. He executed Mortimer as a traitor and banished Isabella, forcing her to retire as a Poor Clare for more than a quarter century until her death.

More of Isabella's Offspring

Isabella's son John became Earl of Cornwall, her daughter Eleanor married Duke Rainald II of Gueldres and her daughter Joan (known as Joan of the Tower) married David II Bruce, King of Scotland.

When Charles IV of France died without a direct heir, his nephew Edward III of England claimed the throne of France through his descent through his mother Isabella, beginning the Hundred Years War.

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Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Isabella of France." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Lewis, Jone Johnson. (2023, April 5). Isabella of France. Retrieved from Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Isabella of France." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 10, 2023).