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Isabella of Angouleme

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Medieval Women's Costume

Women's Clothing in the Time of John, Hadwisa of Gloucester, and Isabella of Angouleme

© Jone Johnson Lewis

About Isabella of Angouleme:

Known for: Queen of England; rather fiery marriage to King John
Dates: 1186? or 1188? - May 31, 1246
Occupation: Countess of Angouleme, queen consort to John, King of England
Also known as: Isabella of Angoulême, Isabel of Angoulême

Family, Background:

Isabella's mother was Alice de Courtenay, granddaughter of France's King Louis VI. Isabella's father was Aymar Taillefer, Count of Angouleme.

Marriage to John of England:

Betrothed when very young to Hugh IX, Count of Lusignan, Isabella of Angouleme married John Lackland of England, son of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II of England. John had put aside his first wife in 1198. Isabella was twelve years old at her marriage to John.

In 1202, Isabella's father died, and Isabella became Countess of Angouleme in her own right.

The marriage of Isabella and John was not an easy one. John was infatuated with his young and beautiful wife, but they both were reported to have engaged in adultery, and to have had strong tempers which they used on each other. When John suspected Isabella of having had an affair, he had her suspected lover hanged and then dangled above her bed.

Isabella and John had five children before John died in 1216. At John's death, Isabella's quick action had her son Henry crowned at John's death, in Gloucester where they were at the time.

Second Marriage:

Isabella of Angouleme returned to her homeland after John's death. There she married Hugh X of Lusignan, son of the man she'd been betrothed to before marrying John, and the man who was betrothed to her eldest daughter by John. Hugh X and Isabella had nine children.

In 1244, Isabella was accused of conspiring against the French King to poison him, and she fled to the abbey at Fontevrault and hid for two years. She died in 1246, still hiding in the secret chamber. Hugh, her second husband, died three years later on crusade.

Burial:

Isabella had arranged to be buried outside the abbey at Fontevrault as penance, but some years after her death, her son, Henry III, King of England, had her re-interred beside her mother-in-law Eleanor of Aquitaine and father-in-law Henry II, inside the abbey.

Marriages:

  • betrothed to: Hugh le Brun, Count of Lusignan
  • married to: John I of England, August 24, 1200
  • married to: Hugh X of Lusignan, Count of La Marche

Children of Queen Isabella of Angouleme and King John:

  1. King Henry III of England, born October 1, 1207
  2. Richard, Earl of Cornwall, King of the Romans
  3. Joan, married Alexander II of Scotland
  4. Isabella, married Emperor Frederick II
  5. Eleanor, married William Marshall and then Simon de Montfort

Children of Isabella of Angouleme and Hugh X of Lusignan, Count of La Marche:

  1. Hugh XI of Lusignan
  2. Aymer de Valence, a bishop
  3. Agnes de Lusignan, married William II de Chauvigny
  4. Alice le Brun de Lusignan, married John de Warenne
  5. Guy de Lusignan
  6. Geoffrey de Lusignan
  7. William de Valence
  8. Marguerite de Lusignan, married Raymond VII of Toulouse, then married Aimery IX de Thouars
  9. Isabele de Lusignan, married Geoffrey de Rancon

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