Phenomenal Feminist Friday

Isabella the She-Wolf of France


Rumor is that while the execution — one of the most brutal in English history — went on she ate plums.

Hugh Despencer suffered horribly in his final moments. And to Isabella Queen Regent he deserved every moment.

But the lessons Isabella learned to get her to those plums were hard and she learned young:

No one would save her but herself.

Early Marriage

She was married at age 12 to Kind Edward II of England. It is unlike that they had a sexual relationship in those early years, even then it seemed weird for a grown man o have sexual relations with a child.

She was described by Geoffrey of Paris as “the beauty of beauties….in the kingdom if not in all of Europe.” So, you can only imagine what it must have felt like for her to have Edward be so enamored with certain men of his household.

Rumors of Edward and Piers Gaveston (c. 1284–19 June 1312) had been going on for some time, but it only became blatantly obvious at the wedding feast.

As the groom Edward was expected to shower Isabella not only with attention but also gifts, he gave both of those to Piers in front of not only his barons, but also her family. It caused some tension and eventually resulted in Gaveston’s expulsion from England.

Throughout her life Isabella would have to watch as the man she was married to and loved shamed her by spending time with and showing favoritism to a series of men all while using her to secure his throne and keep disdainful barons in line.

Because of the way the pair acted at Edward’s official wedding to Isabella, the “Boulogne agreement” was struck and Gaveston was exiled in Ireland and stripped of his earldom.

His exile was good for Isabella, during that time not only did she learn the political realities of being Queen, but she also reached “womanhood” — in other words she started her period and was an acceptable age for Edward to consummate the marriage.

Proving Her Worth

A decade before the plums Isabella was a force to be reckoned with. But no one had seen it, at least not yet.



Alexandra Henning The Hysterical Historian

I write about politics, science, among other topics as the mood strikes through a historical lense.