period: Isabel de Clare, Countess of Gloucester

Isabel de Clare, Countess of Gloucester

Isabel de Clare – or possibly Avise, Hawise, Joan, or Eleanor – (c1173–1217), was was the daughter of the Earl of Gloucester and his wife Hawise. Her paternal grandfather, Robert, 1st Earl of Gloucester, was the illegitimate son of King Henry I. Her father died in 1183, at which time she became Countess of Gloucester suo jure in 1183 upon the death of her father.

In 1176 King Henry II betrothed Isabel to his youngest son, John Lackland, despite them being within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity. But in the marriage agreement, the King agreed to find the best husband possible for Isabel should the Pope refuse to grant a dispensation for the marriage. Henry also declared Isabel the sole heir to the Earldom of Gloucester, disinheriting her two sisters.

John and Isabel were married in 1189 and John assumed the Earldom of Gloucester in her right. Baldwin, Archbishop of Canterbury, declared the marriage null by reason of consanguinity and placed their lands under interdict. The interdict was lifted by Pope Clement III who granted a dispensation for the marriage but forbade the couple from having sexual relations.

When John acceded to the throne in 1199 he obtained an annulment of the marriage on the grounds of consanguinity; Isabel did not contest the annulment.

John kept her lands and within a year married Isabelle d’Angoulême.

The movies

Robin Hood (2010): An expert archer, previously interested only in self-preservation, returns to England after King Richard’s death in France. In Nottingham he finds himself battling the corruption of a despotic sheriff and, of course, falling for Marion Loxley. Meanwhile King John abandons Isabel de Clare (Jessica Raine) for Isabelle d’Angoulême. Paul Engelen was the makeup designer.

Robin of Sherwood (1984): Featuring Patricia Hodge. Coming soon …