Isabella of France
So before we get into any truth about Isabella, we have one myth to get out of the way. She did not have children to William Wallace. She was 9 when he died. She did not give birth to any children by Roger Mortimer, it would have been real hard to explain how she got pregnant after Edward II was killed and even as Queen and then Queen Regent flagrant adultery would have been an executable offense. Edward being king didn’t prevent him for being imprisoned for being what we assume is bisexual, of course if Despenser had learned to play nice with Isabella a lot of what happened to them all could have been prevented. It also would cause a massive pedigree collapse for me, but that’s neither here nor there.
Now, on with the truths. (Well, you know the truth as far as we can tell.)
Isabella was born in 1295, probably between May and November, in Paris, France. Her father was King Philip of France and her mother was Joan of Navarre. When she was 10 Pope Clement V gave a Papal dispensation to her marriage by proxy to Edward II of England. Joan died when Isabella was young, some sources say dad did it but well, medieval rumors so she was brought up by her nurse, Théophania de Saint-Pierre. She was intelligent and given a good education as she, like her siblings, were married off for political advantage. England and France were fighting during this time, yeah I know, shocking, and Edward I tried to break off the engagement a number of times. The wedding did not take place until after he died. Isabella and Edward were married at Boulogne-sur-Mer January 25, 1308.
The marriage wasn’t exactly a happy one. Edward had his (assumed) lovers and didn’t provide for Isabella as he should have until she had to have her family intervene. This put Edward at odds with France while he was stilling fighting his father’s battles with Scotland. Isabella had issues from the first with Edward’s “good friend” Piers Gaveston” which eventually they worked out after he was exiled to Ireland for awhile. When Gaveston was sent away, Edward paid more attention to Isabella and granted her lands which caused Philip to back off and stop supporting the Barons who didn’t support Edward.
After Edward and Isabella were almost captured after a failed attack on Scotland, Gaveston was executed. Edward’s next lover became a bigger problem for her, Hugh Despenser, the Younger. The Despensers used this support to increase their properties in Wales, which angered the Mortimers. When Isabella begged Edward to send them away to keep the peace he did, but only for a short while. Leaving Isabella in danger while fighting the Scots apparently was a thing for Edward, after battle of Old Byland, he left her to run with Despenser to get more troops leaving her trapped by Scottish troops on land and Flemish ships. This is the point in which she left Edward. She travelled a bit around England doing a pilgramiage and when she returned she refused to pledge loyalty to Despenser. Edward confiscated her lands for this and her children were taken.
During this time Edward was ignoring some of his responsibilities towards France, upsetting his brother in laws in the process. Isabella used this as a chance to take her son, Edward, III to Paris with her to pay homage to his uncles in his father’s stead. Once back in France she refused to leave and her brother wouldn’t force her to return. This is when she met Roger Mortimer, who was an escapee from the Tower of London. Edward had imprisoned him and his uncle because they fought against him and Despenser. Together they betrothed her son Philip to her cousin’s daughter, collected the dowry and used it to gather up a force to defeat Edward.
She gathered troops as she crossed England, the public gave her at least tacit support and most of the nation was in a state of upheaval. On November 16, 1326 her forces caught Edward and Hugh. Hugh was immediately put to death and Edward was imprisoned where he died shortly thereafter. This was the first King of England to abdicate.
Edward III became King and she became Queen Regent but things didn’t quiet down. Isabella ruled for four years with Mortimer at her side until Edward III raised up against him. During her time as Regent she paid herself well, took lands and titles, and lived lavishly, none of which endeared her to the nobility. She made peace with Scotland via Treaty of Northampton in which she married her daughter Joan to David Bruce, conceded some of Edwards land to Scotland and didn’t expect the Earls to repay their debts. She also made peace with France at the cost of more lands. None of this set well with the populace. This caused a civil war to begin to simmer which Edward had to try to suppress. In 1330 Mortimer was charged and found guilty of treason, he was condemned to death. Isabella was found innocent but was imprisoned. She had a nervous breakdown and was considered insane for the first years after Mortimer was killed.
She eventually recovered and was able to move into her own castle. She became close again to her children, grandchildren and one of Roger Mortimer’s daughters. Before she died she became a nun in the Order of the Poor Clares. She died August 22, 1358 and was buried Franciscan church at Newgate. She was buried in her wedding dress with Edward II’s heart with her.
Whether she’s considered bad or badass she definitely had her own mind.