Isabella, Countess of Bedford

Last updated

Isabella of England
Born16 June 1332
Woodstock Palace, Oxfordshire
Diedc.5 October 1382 (aged 50)
Spouse Enguerrand VII, Lord of Coucy
Issue Marie, Countess of Soissons
Philippa de Vere, Duchess of Ireland
House Plantagenet
Father Edward III of England
Mother Philippa of Hainault

Isabella of England (16 June 1332 – c.5 October 1382) was the eldest daughter of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault, and the wife of Enguerrand de Coucy, Earl of Bedford, by whom she had two daughters. She was made a Lady of the Garter in 1376.


Early years

Isabella was Edward and Philippa's second child, and eldest daughter. [1] Named after her paternal grandmother, Isabella of France, Isabella is believed to have been her father's favourite daughter, but less close to her mother. [2]

Born at Woodstock Palace, in Oxfordshire, on 16 June 1332, [3] [4] she was a baby who was much pampered by her doting parents. She slept in a gilded cradle lined with taffeta and covered with a fur blanket. Her gowns were of imported Italian silk, embroidered with jewels and fur-lined. Isabella had, along with her siblings, a household of servants which included a personal chaplain, musicians, a noble governor and governess, and three ladies-in-waiting as well as a staff of grooms, esquires, clerks, butlers, cooks, and other attendants. [5] As a child, Isabella was sent to the household of William and Elizabeth St Omer, which also included Isabella's older brother Edward and younger sister Joan.


When she was just 3 years old, her father attempted to arrange a marriage between Isabella and Pedro of Castile, the Castilian King's heir; however, her younger sister Joan later became Pedro's betrothed, dying before they could actually marry.[ citation needed ]

Isabella – unusually for the times – remained unmarried until the age of 33. She had previously been the subject of various betrothal proposals; however, these had all failed to come to fruition. On 15 November 1351, when she was 19 years old, five ships were instructed to take her to Gascony where she was to marry Bernard d'Albret as had been previously arranged. He was the second eldest son of Bernard Ezi IV, Lord of Albret. At the last moment before departure, however, Isabella changed her mind, and the marriage was called off. [4] Her father does not appear to have been angry at Isabella for her capricious behaviour as he granted her custody of Burtsall Priory in Yorkshire in 1355. He also settled the sum of 1,000 marks per annum on her. [4]

Eventually, she was permitted to marry Enguerrand VII, Lord of Coucy, a wealthy French lord with whom she had fallen in love. Seven years her junior, he was the son and heir of Enguerrand VI, Lord of Coucy and Catherine of Austria.

Marriage and issue

Isabella's husband had been brought to England in 1360 as a hostage exchanged for the freedom of King John II of France, an English prisoner. They married on 27 July 1365, at Windsor Castle, by which time Isabella was in her thirties. [2] Her father, Edward III, gave her a dowry of £4,000 and a large lifetime annual income, together with expensive amounts of jewellery and lands; de Coucy was restored to his family's lands in Yorkshire, Lancaster, Westmorland and Cumberland, and was released as a hostage without any need for ransom.

In November 1365, Isabella and her husband were permitted to enter France; their first daughter, Marie, was born at the family lands at Coucy in April 1366. [2] They later returned for a visit to England; on this occasion, Enguerrand was made Earl of Bedford on 11 May 1366, which made Isabella Countess of Bedford as well as Lady of Coucy. After the birth of Isabella's second daughter, Philippa, in 1367, Enguerrand and Isabella were also made Count and Countess of Soissons by Edward. Because her husband also served the King of France as a military leader, he was frequently away from home; consequently, Isabella, though living principally with Enguerrand at Coucy, made frequent visits to her family in England. She was made a Lady of the Garter in 1376.

Isabella bore two children by her marriage to Enguerrand de Coucy:


Isabella was at her father's side when he died on 21 June 1377 having been urgently summoned home from France by couriers the previous April. [5]

After the accession of Richard II, Isabella's nephew, in August 1377, Enguerrand resigned all of his English ties and possessions. Isabella then died in England, separated from her husband and eldest daughter, Marie.

Her death was between 17 June and 5 October 1382. [6] [7] She was buried in Greyfriars Church, Newgate, London. Seven years after her death, her husband took as his second wife, Isabelle, the daughter of John I, Duke of Lorraine and Sophie of Württemberg.

In fiction

Molly Costain Haycraft's fictionalized account of Isabella's life and courtship with her husband, The Lady Royal, recounts several incidents in the lives of the princess and other members of Edward III's family, but contains a number of historical errors. Chief among these is the explanation of the book's title; according to the story, Isabella (or Isabel, as she is identified in the story) was titled Princess Royal and later promoted to "Lady Royal" by her parents. This is impossible, given that the title of Princess Royal was not created until the reign of Charles I of England.

One reviewer commented that "Edward III's proclamation of the intended marriage... conveys more of the cadence of Plantagenet Britain than do pages of Mrs Haycraft's dreary efforts." [8] Others praise the author's attention to historical detail. [9]


Related Research Articles

Princess Royal Noble title customarily awarded by a British monarch to their eldest daughter

Princess Royal is a style customarily awarded by a British monarch to their eldest daughter. Although purely honorary, it is the highest honour that may be given to a female member of the royal family. There have been seven Princesses Royal. Princess Anne is the current Princess Royal.

Jacquetta of Luxembourg, Countess Rivers was the eldest daughter of Peter I of Luxembourg, Count of Saint-Pol, Conversano and Brienne, and his wife Margaret of Baux. She was a prominent, though often overlooked, figure in the Wars of the Roses. Through her short-lived first marriage to the Duke of Bedford, brother of King Henry V, she was firmly allied to the House of Lancaster. However, following the emphatic Lancastrian defeat at the Battle of Towton, she and her second husband Richard Woodville sided closely with the House of York. Three years after the battle and the accession of Edward IV of England, Jacquetta's eldest daughter Elizabeth Woodville married him and became Queen consort of England. Jacquetta bore Woodville 14 children and stood trial on charges of witchcraft, of which she was exonerated.

<i>The Accursed Kings</i>

The Accursed Kings is a series of historical novels by French author Maurice Druon about the French monarchy in the 14th century. Published between 1955 and 1977, the series has been adapted as a miniseries twice for television in France.

Eleanor de Clare Anglo-Welsh noblewoman

Eleanor de Clare, suo jure 6th Lady of Glamorgan was a Anglo-Welsh noblewoman who married Hugh Despenser the Younger and was a granddaughter of Edward I of England. With her sisters, Elizabeth de Clare and Margaret de Clare, she inherited her father's estates after the death of her brother, Gilbert de Clare, 8th Earl of Gloucester, 7th Earl of Hereford at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. She was born in 1292 at Caerphilly Castle in Glamorgan, Wales and was the eldest daughter of Gilbert de Clare, 6th Earl of Hertford, 7th Earl of Gloucester, 5th Lord of Glamorgan and Princess Joan of Acre.

House of Plantagenet English royal dynasty in medieval England

The House of Plantagenet was a Royal house which originated from the lands of Anjou in France. The family held the English throne from 1154 to 1485, when Richard III died in battle.

Enguerrand VII de Coucy 14th-century French nobleman

Enguerrand VII de Coucy,, also known as Ingelram de Coucy and Ingelram de Couci, was a medieval French nobleman and the last Lord of Coucy. He became son-in-law of King Edward III of England following his marriage to the king's daughter, Isabella of England, and the couple was subsequently granted several English estates, among them the title Earl of Bedford. Coucy fought in the Battle of Nicopolis in 1396 as part of a failed crusade against the Ottoman Empire, but was taken prisoner and contracted the bubonic plague. He died in captivity the following year at Bursa.

Anne Beauchamp, 16th Countess of Warwick English countess

Anne Beauchamp, 16th Countess of Warwick was an important late medieval English noblewoman. She was the daughter of Richard Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick, and his second wife Isabel le Despenser, a daughter of Thomas le Despenser and Constance of York. Anne Beauchamp was the mother of two famous daughters, Isabel Neville, the royal Duchess of Clarence, and Anne Neville, Queen consort of England as the spouse of King Richard III.

Joan of Valois, Countess of Hainaut Countess of Hainaut, Holland, and Zeeland

Joan of Valois was a Countess consort of Hainaut, Holland, and Zeeland, by marriage to William I, Count of Hainaut. She acted as regent of Hainaut and Holland several times during the absence of her spouse, and she also acted as a political mediator.

Philippa de Coucy

Philippa de Coucy, Countess of Oxford, Duchess of Ireland was a first cousin of King Richard II of England and the wife of his favourite, Robert de Vere, 9th Earl of Oxford, Marquess of Dublin, Duke of Ireland. Philippa was made a Lady of the Garter in 1378.

Marie I de Coucy, Countess of Soissons French countess

Marie I de Coucy was Dame de Coucy and d'Oisy, and Countess of Soissons from 1397. She succeeded suo jure to the title of Countess of Soissons upon the death of her father, Enguerrand VII de Coucy, on 18 February 1397. In addition to her titles, she also possessed numerous estates in northeastern France. She was the wife of Henry of Bar, and the granddaughter of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault.

Joan de Geneville, 2nd Baroness Geneville, Countess of March, Baroness Mortimer, also known as Jeanne de Joinville, was the daughter of Sir Piers de Geneville and Joan of Lusignan. She inherited the estates of her grandparents, Geoffrey de Geneville, 1st Baron Geneville, and Maud de Lacy, Baroness Geneville. She was one of the wealthiest heiresses in the Welsh Marches and County Meath, Ireland. She was the wife of Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March, the de facto ruler of England from 1327 to 1330. She succeeded as suo jure 2nd Baroness Geneville on 21 October 1314 upon the death of her grandfather, Geoffrey de Geneville.

Henry of Bar was lord of Marle and the Marquis de Pont-à-Mousson. He was the eldest son of Robert I of Bar and Marie of Valois.

Joan FitzAlan, Countess of Hereford, Countess of Essex and Countess of Northampton was the wife of the 7th Earl of Hereford, 6th Earl of Essex and 2nd Earl of Northampton. She was the mother of Mary de Bohun, the first wife of Henry of Bolingbroke who later reigned as King Henry IV, and Eleanor de Bohun, Duchess of Gloucester. She was the maternal grandmother of King Henry V.

Katherine Mortimer, Countess of Warwick

Katherine Mortimer, Countess of Warwick was the wife of Thomas de Beauchamp, 11th Earl of Warwick KG, an English peer, and military commander during the Hundred Years War. She was a daughter and co-heiress of Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March and Joan de Geneville, Baroness Geneville.

Margaret of Baux was a Countess of Saint-Pol, of Brienne, and of Conversano. She was a member of the noble House of Baux of the Kingdom of Naples, which had its origins in Provence dating back to the 11th century. Her husband was Peter of Luxembourg, Count of Saint-Pol, of Brienne, and of Conversano.

Alice Holland, Countess of Kent

Alice Holland, Countess of Kent, LG, formerly Lady Alice FitzAlan, was an English noblewoman, a daughter of the 10th Earl of Arundel, and the wife of the 2nd Earl of Kent, the half-brother of King Richard II. As the maternal grandmother of Anne de Mortimer, she was an ancestor of King Edward IV and King Richard III, as well as King Henry VII and the Tudor dynasty through her daughter Margaret Holland. She was also the maternal grandmother of Joan Beaufort, Queen of Scots.

Agnes de Launcekrona was Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen consort Anne of Bohemia. She became the second wife of Robert de Vere, 9th Earl of Oxford, a favourite of King Richard II of England.

Isabella, Countess of Foix

Isabella of Foix also known as Isabella of Foix-Castelbon was sovereign Countess of Foix and Viscountess of Béarn from 1399 until 1428. She was Countess of Foix in her own right, but shared power with her husband and later with her son. She succeeded as countess along with her husband upon the death of her childless brother Matthew.

Philippe of Dammartin was a 13th-century noble woman. Philippe was the daughter of Simon of Dammartin, Count of Aumâle and his wife Marie of Ponthieu. She was the sister of Joan, Countess of Ponthieu, wife of Ferdinand III of Castile and mother of Eleanor of Castile, the wife of Edward I of England.

Catherine of Austria, Lady of Coucy

Catherine of Austria was the daughter of the Habsburg Duke Leopold I of Austria and the wife successively of the French nobleman Enguerrand VI, Lord of Coucy and the German Konrad von Hardeck, Burgrave of Magdeburg.


  1. Lutkin 2010, p. 131, 145-146.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Hilton, Lisa (2008). Queens Consort:England's Medieval Queens. London: Phoenix. p. 312-314. ISBN   9780753826119.
  3. Cokayne, G.E. The Complete Peerage, Vol. II, p. 69
  4. 1 2 3 Richardson, Douglas & Kimball G. Everingham. (2004) Plantagenet Ancestry: a study in Colonial and Medieval Families. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company Inc. p. 26; retrieved 25 November 2010.
  5. 1 2 Tuchman, Barbara W. A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century, Knopf, pp. 215–16, 318.
  6. Calendar of the Patent Rolls of Richard II, 1381-1385, pg. 166
  7. The Westminster Chronicle, pg. 28-29
  8. Best Sellers: From the U.S. Government Printing Office. The Office. 1964. pp. 311–2.
  9. Stechert-Hafner Book News. 1954. p. 98.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Armitage-Smith, Sydney (1905). John of Guant: King of Castile and Leon, Duke of Aquitaine and Lancaster, Earl of Derby, Lincoln, and Leicester, Seneschal of England. Charles Scribner's Sons. p. 21. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  11. 1 2 3 4 Anselme de Sainte-Marie, Père (1726). Histoire généalogique et chronologique de la maison royale de France [Genealogical and chronological history of the royal house of France] (in French). Vol. 1 (3rd ed.). Paris: La compagnie des libraires. pp. 87–88.}
  12. 1 2 Anselme 1726, pp. 381–382
  13. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 von Redlich, Marcellus Donald R. Pedigrees of Some of the Emperor Charlemagne's Descendants. Vol. I. p. 64.
  14. 1 2 3 4 Weir, Alison (1999). Britain's Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy. London: The Bodley Head. pp. 75, 92.