Tag Archives: Hugh le Despenser 1st Earl of Winchester

King Edward II/[Edward the second Blogspot]/Isabella of France and her relationship with Edward II

This is a post which I originally wrote a few months ago as a guest post on my lovely friend Sarah’s history blog, which is now sadly defunct, though she writes one about Edward II’s grandfather Henry III instead, yay.Isabella of France, queen consort of England, lady of Ireland, duchess of Aquitaine, countess of Chester and Ponthieu, had a remarkably illustrious lineage: she was the daughter of Philip IV, king of France and of Joan, queen of Navarre and countess of Brie, Bigorre and Champagne in her own right. Isabella was the sixth of Philip and Joan’s seven children. Her three older brothers all reigned as kings of France, Louis X, Philip V and Charles IV, her younger brother Robert died in 1308 aged about eleven, and she also had two older sisters, Marguerite and Blanche, who both died in early childhood in or shortly after 1294. Her paternal grandmother Isabel, queen of Philip III of France, after whom she was presumably named, was the daughter of King Jaime I ‘el Conquistador’ of Aragon and the granddaughter of King Andras II of Hungary; via the Hungarian line, Isabella of France was the seven greats granddaughter of Harold Godwinson, the king of England killed at Hastings in 1066.  She and her husband Edward II were related: her great-grandmother Marguerite of Provence, queen of France was the older sister of Edward’s paternal grandmother Eleanor of Provence, queen of England.  They were also related rather more distantly via the Castilian royal family, Edward’s great-grandmother Berenguela, queen of Castile and Leon, being the sister of Isabella’s great-great-grandmother Blanche of Castile, queen of France.

 

 

 

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[Susan Higginbotham’s History Refreshed]/Guest Post by Kathryn Warner: Edward II and the Despensers

 

I’m so pleased to welcome my friend Kathryn Warner for her new biography of Edward II. I’ve been looking forward to a book like this for years, and what better person than Kathryn to write it?

 

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Kathryn and I first met online a number of years ago, when I published my first novel, The Traitor’s Wife, about Eleanor de Clare, Edward II’s favorite niece and the wife of his favorite, Hugh le Despenser the younger.  Given that, what better topic for this guest post than Edward II and the Despenser family? Over to Kathryn:

 

Edward II Effigy

King Edward II of England (reigned 1307 to 1327) is famous, or infamous, for his reliance on male ‘favourites’, the best known of whom is Piers Gaveston, whom Edward made earl of Cornwall and who was beheaded by a group of the king’s aggrieved barons in June 1312.  The last of the favourites, Hugh Despenser the Younger, is not nearly so well-known, even though he was far more politically powerful than Piers Gaveston and helped bring about the king’s downfall and his own in 1326/27.  Rather curiously, Edward II also had some kind of intense relationship near the end of his reign with Hugh Despenser’s wife – who happened to be his own niece, Eleanor de Clare.

 

Hugh Despenser the Younger was born sometime in the late 1280s as the elder son of Hugh Despenser the Elder, stepson of the earl of Norfolk and later earl of Winchester (1261-1326) and Isabel Beauchamp (1260s-1306), daughter and sister of earls of Warwick and first cousin of the earl of Ulster.  Hugh the Younger made a splendid marriage in May 1306 when Edward I arranged and attended his wedding to his eldest granddaughter Eleanor de Clare, thirteen-year-old daughter of the earl of Gloucester and Edward I’s second daughter Joan of Acre.  Hugh and Eleanor’s relationship seems to have been successful, as they had at least ten children together in their twenty-year marriage: Hugh, Edward, Gilbert, John, Isabel, Joan, Eleanor, Margaret, Elizabeth and an unnamed boy who died young in 1321.

 

 

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[Susan Higginbotham’s History Refreshed]/Thanks Uncle! Gifts to Eleanor de Clare from Edward II

 

 

Whatever else one might say about Edward II, he was a generous uncle–at least to his favorite niece, Eleanor de Clare. Here’s some of his recorded gifts to her:

 

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[Susan Higginbotham’s History Refreshed]/Two [maybe three] little nuns

On January 1, 1327, Queen Isabella, having executed her enemies and imprisoned her husband, King Edward II, turned her attention to much smaller matters: Hugh le Despenser the younger’s little daughters. On that day, the queen issued an order that Eleanor le Despenser be packed off to Sempringham, a Gilbertine priory in Lincolnshire, and veiled as a nun “without delay.” A similar order sent Margaret to Watton, another Gilbertine priory in Yorkshire. Coming just a few weeks after the brutal execution of the girls’ father and the imprisonment of their mother, the queen’s orders completed the unraveling of the privileged existence these girls had enjoyed.

Hugh le Despenser had left four sons and five daughters behind him. Isabel, the oldest of the girls, was about fourteen. She had been married as a child to Richard Fitzalan and thereby escaped her younger sisters’ fate.

 

 

 

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