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Picture of Queen Isabella

Isabella of France

Isabella the Fair, or the She-Wolf of France as she was later known, was born in 1292. The daughter of King Philip IV of France she was married to Edward II in Boulogne in 1308. Isabella left France for England, upon landing at Dover she was met by Piers Galveston, a confidant of Edwards. It was here that Isabella noticed Edward and Galveston were more than just friends. Isabella wrote her father but since there was nothing he could do she just had to deal with it. Edward II was one of the most hated kings England had ever seen. He increasingly antagonized the nobles over his choice of "friends" and Isabella constantly acted as mediator between the barons and her husband. She also accompanied her husband on his campaigns in Scotland, coming very close to capture once. Her daring escape and her mediation skills made her just as popular as her husband was unpopular.

In 1312 Isabella gave birth to Edward III at Windsor who would claim the throne after her husband. Edward becoming more and more unpopular banished Gaveston to his native Guyenne in an attempt to gain support of the nobles. But Edward soon replaced him with the Despensers , a father and son who sought only wealth and power from Edward. Isabella and Edward's hatred of each other grew as he spent more time with his "favorites". While awaiting the birth of another child in the Tower of London, Isabella met Roger Mortimer who was imprisoned under a sentence of death. The two became involved in an affair and Mortimer escaped, most likely aided by Isabella, to France. Isabella's brother Philip V was now king of France and detested the way his sister was being treated by her husband. Philip began confiscating Edward's French possessions, Edward sent Isabella to France as a mediator. Once in France Isabella sent word to Edward telling him to send their son Edward III to do allegiance to her brother the King. Edward II, being the weak willed coward he was, agreed. When her son arrived in France Isabella sent word back that neither she nor Edward III would return to England until the Despensers were banished. King Edward II retaliated by sending letters to Philip V telling him of Isabella's affair with Mortimer, Philip then refused to aid his sister-she had apparently convinced him that she was an innocent victim in the matter.

Sophie Marceau as Isabella of France Isabella returned to England with her son, Roger Mortimer, Lord William Hainault and nearly 3,000 men with two goals in mind; ridding England of the Despensers and removing her husband from the throne. Many more men flocked to her cause and the Despensers were caught and promptly executed. Edward tried to escape but was captured and sent to Kenilworth Castle it was then that he was formally deposed and Isabella's son Edward III became King. Edward II was transferred to Berkley Castle where he was put to death by having a hot poker shoved in his rectum.

With her husband out of the way Isabella and Mortimer became regents of England, she arranged for her son to marry Lord William's daughter Phillipa. Everything was going according to plan for Isabella, that is until her son came of age.

In 1327 Edward was able to take on the full duties of King. Angered by the way his father had been dealt with one of his first acts was to arrest Mortimer and have him hanged as a traitor. He confiscated his mother's wealth and her income was limited. She was confined to a castle in Norfolk where she remained until her death. Her son Edward visited her from time to time, it is said he blamed Mortimer fully for his fathers demise; yet he could not trust his mother. Isabella went insane in her confinement and died after 31 years of confinement. Soon after her death Charles IV King of France died leaving no heir. Edward III, being more like his grandfather than his father, claimed to be the rightful heir to the throne of France through his mother. It was this act that started what would be known as The Hundred Years' War.


Sophie Marceau and Mel Gibson from Braveheart

Wallace and Isabella?

This portion of the film is one of the most offensive to historians. Wallace and Isabella never met, she and Edward weren't even married until 4 years after his death not to mention at the time of his execution she was only 12 years old. So them meeting and having an affair was total fabrication by the filmmakers. However the character brought forth by Sophie Marceau was in my opinion one of the most historically accurate in the film. The real Isabella was renowned for her mediation skills the film depicted this when Longshanks sent her to meet with Wallace. The real Isabella was a woman who had grown to hate her husband because of his affairs with other men, so much so that she led a revolt to overthrow him. In the film Isabella said on two occasions that it would not be Edward but her that would rule England. And the real Isabella had an affair with a man whom she aided against her husband. This of course depicted by her relationship with Wallace. So although the film was not historically accurate in the life of Isabella, it would definitely have to be considered an accurate portrayal of the kind of life Isabella of France had and the kind of woman she was.

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