The first full-length biography of one of history’s most notorious femme fatales — Isabella — a much maligned Queen of England.
Isabella of France, Edward II’s queen, was a woman much maligned in her day. Today, it is said that her maniacal laughter can be heard on stormy nights at Castle Rising in Norfolk, and that in the ruins of the 14th century church where she is buried, her angry ghost can be glimpsed, clutching the beating heart of her murdered husband. In literature she has fared no better; Christopher Marlowe’s “unnatural Queen, false Isabel” has also been described as “a woman of evil character, a notorious schemer,” and as the “She-Wolf of France.” Tragic, cruel, tormented: how did Isabella acquire such a reputation?
Born in 1292, the daughter of Philip IV of France and sister to three future French kings, Isabella was a pawn in the game of international politics. She was married at the age of twelve to Edward II of England, thus beginning a public and private life more turbulent and eventful than any heroine, or anti-heroine, in fiction.
Through a long period of civil war, Isabella bore Edward four children but was constantly humiliated by his relationships with male favourites. Although she is known to have lived adulterously with Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March, accusations of murder and regicide remain unsubstantiated. Had it not been for her unfaithfulness, history may have immortalized her as a liberator — the saviour who unshackled England from a weak and vicious monarch.