Isabella of France

Proof that the French can kick butt.

Proof that the French can kick butt.

Anna Komemne – Isabella of France is another Fearless woman of history.  She should be more well known than she is, but I suppose your so-called modern school systems can’t be bothered.

Buffalo Calf Road – Isn’t Zach supposed to be here?

Anna – I don’t understand the question so I won’t answer it.

Gaspar Correia – Yeah, Zach’s back from Japan. He said he’d be here.

Anna – He’s running late.

Buffalo – Did you take over the blog again?

Hua Mulan – She launched a coup. I thought we were done with this.  What did you do with him?

Anna – I didn’t do anything! I just…maybe…kind of changed his flight schedule. He should be in Korea on a 58 hour layover.

Buffalo – You got to stop these mad power grabs. It’ll only lead to your unhappiness.

Anna – I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that.

Gaspar – Well, folks, Anna’s busy with her coup, so I’ll start this off.  Isabella of France is often known as “The She-Wolf of France.”  She was born to King Phillip IV of France and Queen Joan I.  When she was twelve she was married to Edward II of England.

Mulan – So, she was born to the king of France and married to the future king of England. Born with a silver spoon doesn’t begin to cover what this girl had.  Her future was set and it was going to be amazing.

Anna – Her father was a cold, unemotional man and that was a strong king that controlled France with a strong iron fist. This was probably a huge influence on Isabella’s notions of leadership. Apparently there were two rules she learned, kick butt and take names. I’m not sure about the order. Her mother died when she was young so her childhood was spent learning from the tables of the most powerhungry people in Europe. Weakness was not allowed and only strength was worthy of respect.

Her father when he was young.

Her father when he was young.

Mulan – By all accounts she was a very beautiful girl. She was also universally described as charismatic and very intelligent.  Now that’s unusual for this time period. Women were just tools for diplomatic advantage, but Isabella was known for her own merits.

Buffalo – And this beautiful, convincing and highly intelligent woman was dropped into the Royal court of England as the twelve year old bride of Phillip II.  She faced some problems though. For one thing, her new husband was romantically involved with another man, so her chance at true love wasn’t exactly blossoming.  Also, Phillip II was having power struggles with the barons.  While Edward was fighting the Scots Isabella was using her contacts in the French court to find diplomatic solutions. But there was another problem. As queen of England, Isabella was due certain lands, power and authority which Edward was giving to his boyfriend, Gaveston.  This even became public when Phillip sat with Gaveston at the wedding feast and gave all of Isabella’s wedding jewelry to Gaveston. Her family had to intercede to end the public embarrassment.

Gaspar – That doesn’t sound like a very happy marriage situation. But slowly Isabella began building support within the court and even made Gaveston one of her allies. Not bad, I think it was Thomas Edison that said “I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.”

Anna – That was Lincoln, genius.  And even though her husband clearly liked Gaveston more than her, she put up with it for years while she built her powerbase. But while she was willing to put up with her husband’s rubbish, the barons were not and they began to fight against him.  When Edward launched a campaign against the rebellious Scots he failed miserably. He and Isabella barely escaped but Gaveston was trapped in a castle and captured. The unforgiving barons didn’t really appreciate his hold on the king and executed him.

Mulan – Now that Gaveston was out of the picture, Phillip actually paid a little attention to his wife and stopped giving her the cold shoulder.  This led to their first son and heir, the future Edward III.

Gaspar – They’re not very imaginative about their naming, are they?

Mulan – Well, with Gaveston gone and an heir secured, Isabella had more trust and power in court. She began sitting on councils and even advising the king. But then Hugh Despenser started getting the King’s ear and gaining power and influence. Meanwhile, the barons gained more power under the Lancaster family.  It didn’t help that the Dispensers and Lancasters were lifelong enemies. Phillip became…romantically involved with Hugh and started ignoring his wife again. The problem was, Isabella was giving him really good advice. She wanted him to get rid of the Lancasters but Phillip ignored her. Also, Hugh didn’t become her ally like Gaveston did. Both Isabella and the Barons didn’t appreciate Hugh’s influence with the king.

Gaspar – There was a general named Roger de Mortimer. He did a real good job fighting the troublesome Scots but then Phillip’s BFF Hugh confiscated some of Mortimer’s land and had him arrested. Roger then escaped from the Tower of London by a daring repel down the wall.  He had to fight eighty guards armed only with dagger. Only his expertise with the long forgotten martial arts of the Druids did he manage his escape. Once he got to the Thames, his friends had an alchemical power suit ready for him and he fought the army to make his way out of London and made his way to France.

Mortimer had a nerdy name, but he was a man that knew what needed to be done.

Mortimer had a nerdy name, but he was a man that knew what needed to be done.

Anna – That part about escaping out of the Tower was true. Hugh Despenser began a reign of terror where he punished all his enemies and also their families. He confiscated land and imprisoned old women and children. Some of these people were Isabella’s allies and friends. Hugh was eroding her power. He also began turning Phillip away from her and soon it was back to her being ignored again.

Mulan – Let me report on the military situation. The Scots in the north were humiliating Phillip’s armies and drove further south and Isabella was isolated in Tynemouth Priory. She was there because Edward left her there without thinking about the war. The Scottish army surrounded the priory on land and the allied Flemish navy. Well, raised by a power hungry sociopath Isabella wasn’t one to panic or surrender.  She sent out a group of young squires to delay the advanced Scottish party. It was a cold move that meant the squires deaths or capture. The few knights she had went to capture a ship. They had to fight their way to the docks. Several of the knights and two of Isabella’s ladies in waiting died to get her there. Once aboard they sailed their way through the Flemish blockade and made their way to safety.

No Medieval tale is complete without guys in armor beating each other up.

No Medieval tale is complete without guys in armor beating each other up.

Here's the priory where Isabella was in trouble. a very scenic place to be threatened.

Here’s the priory where Isabella was in trouble. a very scenic place to be threatened.

Buffalo – Well, when she got home she was furious with Edward for leaving her there in the path of the enemy army. Also, Edward had her servants arrested and her children taken away. This ticked her off.  She realized what a loser he was. The barons were revolting, the Scots were pushing south and she was being sidelined. Again, she didn’t panic. What she did was go down to France. There she met Roger Mortimer. The two had a lot in common. They both hated Edward and Hugh and they both wanted to see someone more competent on throne.  Together, they hired a mercenary army and prepared to invade England.  That’s right, she’s going after her jerk husband.

Mulan – Back to my favorite topic, the military. Isabella and her army landed at Orwell with only about 1,500 troops. Medieval armies were small, but this was still pretty small.  With her tiny army she moved inland. Edward hired local militia to rise up and stop her but those levies joined her side. Then barons began joining her side. She marched to London and Edward was soon captured as he tried to flee. He was thrown in prison and soon was conveniently found dead.

It was a quick campaign with little fighting. It was a rapid grab of power from a king that was too weak and stupid to hold it. When you play the game of thrones...

It was a quick campaign with little fighting. It was a rapid grab of power from a king that was too weak and stupid to hold it. When you play the game of thrones…

Anna – So, Isabella, tired of her husband’s ill treatment and stupidity, took the country from him and ruled in his stead.

Mulan – She was a tough chick that knew what it took to gain and hold power.

Gaspar – Isabella was a tough, beautiful, charismatic and intelligent woman.  And she spoke with what I assume was a sexy French accent.

Buffalo – Way to keep it classy, Gaspar.

Gaspar – I do what I can. Also, let me add that Zach’ s book “Sins of Prometheus” is available on Amazon. It’s a zombie-free post apocalyptic adventure about a girl that goes in search of her brother. It’s pretty cool if you ask me.

Get it here. Sins of Prometheus.