Saturday, 4 March 2023

Medieval Queens in the Family Tree - Isabella of Angoulême

Isabella of Angoulême (c1186 -1246)

Isabella was the wife of King John.
On 8 October 1200, Isabella of Angoulême was crowned Queen of England at Westminster Abbey. On 8 August 1200 Isabella had married King John of England in Angoulême. Isabella was born around 1188 making her twelve years old (or fourteen if another possible date for her birth is correct). Isabella was the only daughter and heir of Aymer Taillefer, Count of Angoulême, and Alice of Courtenay. Alice was a grandchild of King Louis VI of France. Isabella became Countess of Angoulême in her own right on 16 June 1202.

King John had previously been married to Isabella, Countess of Gloucester. The marriage was annulled in 1199. At the time of the marriage Isabella was already engaged to Hugh IX le Brun of Lusignan. 

John took Isabella back to England in October, after a tour of Normandy, where she accompanied him on many of his travels around the country. However Isabella never engaged in positions of power in England in her own right.  John continued, from time to time, to follow the advice of his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine until her death in 1204.

Before the marriage there had been unrest in a number of French provences, especially between the English and the French who both wanted power in the region. During the remainder of King John's reign the unrest magnified. In 1206 John and Isabella returned to France as John attempted to strengthen contol of Poitou. Angoulême and Aquitaine remained loyal to England at that stage.

Another threat to John's power was that his nephew, Arthur, also claimed the English throne and Arthur's claim was generally supported by the French. Consequently there were many battles over part of territory claimed by England in France. Back in England John's popularilty decreased as land claimed by England in France was reclaimed by the French.

Isabella was renowned for her beauty. She was also said to have a temper which she was not afraid to use.

During her marriage to King John, Isabella and John had five children - Henry (later King Henry III), Richard, Joan, Isabella and Eleanor.

After John died in 1216, Isabella returned to France and in 1220 married Hugh X of Lusignan and they had nine children.

Isabella died on 6 June 1246 and was buried at Fontevraud Abbey.

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