Isabelle of France, queen of England- a reconsideration

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In speaking of historiographical attitudes towards Edward III, Professor May McKisack points out "a problem of historical reputation" (1960:1). If, indeed such a problem exists, it is not unique to Edward III. Indeed McKisack's analysis applies also to the case of Edward's mother, Isabelle of France. The political interplay between Isabelle of France, Edward II, the English nobility and the townsmen raised some enigmas surrounding the queen: a stranger of French birth in England, just ten years before the outbreak of the Hundred Years' War, Isabelle succeeded in uniting all the vital powers of the kingdom under her flag and in bringing about an unprecedented action-the deposing of the king of England. Contemporary sources ascribe an indescribable beauty to Isabel, also devotion and moral strength. Yet contrasted to the figure emerging from the contemporary sources, often in violent contrast to it, is the she-wolf image, perpetuated by research in the context of Isabelle's activities. The wide gap separating the she-wolf from the charming figure of the sources creates a paradox, even a challenge, which requires explanation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-124
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Medieval History
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1984

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History


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