period makeups: Isabella of France

Les rois maudits
Les rois maudits

Period makeups: Isabella of France

Isabella of France (1295–1358), sometimes described as the She-wolf of France, was Queen Consort of England as the wife of King Edward II. She was the youngest surviving child and only surviving daughter of King Philip IV of France and Joan I of Navarre. Queen Isabella was reportedly notable at the time for her beauty, diplomatic skills, and intelligence.

Isabella arrived in England at the age of twelve during a period of growing conflict between the King and the powerful baronial factions. Despite Edward’s relationship with his favourite, Piers Gaveston, the new Queen initially supported Edward. After the death of Gaveston at the hands of the barons in 1312, however, Edward turned to a new favourite, Hugh Despenser the younger, and attempted to take revenge on the barons, resulting in the Despenser War and a period of internal repression across England. Isabella could not tolerate Hugh Despenser and by 1325 her marriage to Edward was at a breaking point. Travelling to France under the guise of a diplomatic mission she began an affair with Roger Mortimer, and the two deposed Edward and ousted the Despenser family. Isabella became regent on behalf of her son, King Edward III, and probably arranged the murder of Edward II. But within three years Isabella and Mortimer’s regime began to crumble. Edward III deposed Mortimer in turn, taking back his authority and executing Isabella’s lover. The Queen was not punished, however, and lived for many years in considerable style – although not at Edward III’s court – until her death in 1358. Isabella became a popular ‘femme fatale’ figure in plays and literature over the years, usually portrayed as a beautiful but cruel and manipulative figure.

Sadly despite Braveheart Isabella never met William Wallace who was executed in 1305 when she was only nine and still in France.