Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 29.djvu/71

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

her connection with his friends (Cont. Guill. De Nangis, i. 410).

In June 1320 Isabella went with Edward to Amiens,where she met her brother Philip V, to whom Edward did homage for Ponthieu. In June 1321 she gave birth to her youngest daughter, Joan, at the Tower of London. In August she again joined Pembroke and some of the bishops in procuring a new peace between the king and his lords, 'begging on her knees for the people's sake' (Ann. Paul. p. 297). But on 13 Oct. of the same year she was travelling to Canterbury, and requested Lady Badlesmere to give her admission to Leeds Castle to pass the night. Though the castle belonged to the crown, and Badlesmere was a member of Pembroke's party, with whom Isabella had generally acted, her marshals were told that no one might enter. Six of her followers were slain in a scuffle that ensued (Trokelowe, pp. 110-111; Ann. Paul. pp. 298-9). Edward took up his wife's cause, and his siege of Leeds brought about the beginning of the conflict which ended with the fall of Lancaster and the great triumph of Edward's reign at the parliament of York. In the disastrous campaign against the Scots which succeeded Isabella was again exposed to great personal danger. When in October Edward was nearly captured by the Scots at Byland Abbey, Isabella fled with difficulty to some castle on the sea-coast, whence she only escaped the danger of a siege by a voyage over a stormy sea, during which she suffered great hardships and two of her ladies perished (Cont. Guill. De Nangis, ii. 44).

The influence of the Despensers over Edward in the years following his triumph soon proved no less irksome to Isabella than that of Gaveston. By their advice Edward resumed possession of her estates on 18 Sept. 1324 (Fœdera, ii. 569; Galfridus Le Baker, pp. 17-18, ed. Thompson), and put her on an allowance of 20s. a day. Her friends and servants were removed from her, the wife of the younger Hugh Despenser was appointed to look after her, and she could not even write a letter without that lady's knowledge (Lanercost, p. 254). The motives for such action, apart from economy, were that Isabella was in close relations with Adam of Orleton, the disgraced bishop of Hereford, and with Bishop Burghersh of Lincoln, who was anxious to revenge his uncle Badlesmere. She was also suspected of intrigues with the French, and especially with her uncle Charles of Valois. It was rumoured that the younger Despenser had sent a friar, named Thomas of Dunheved, to Rome to ask the pope to divorce Edward from Isabella (ib. p. 254; Ann. Paul. p. 337).

Isabella's indignation with the Despensers was soon transferred to her husband. But, guided probably by the crafty Orleton, she quietly meditated revenge. She found her opportunity in the unwillingness of the Despensers to allow Edward to visit France to perform homage to her youngest brother, the new king, Charles IV. She used all her blandishments to persuade Edward to allow her to visit her brother, and begged him to desist from his attacks on Gascony. Bishop Stratford and many of the magnates approved of her design. The Despensers were not sorry to get rid of her. Early in February 1325 the prudent prior Henry of Eastry [q. v.] urged the necessity of restoring her to her accustomed state and following before she went abroad (Lit. Cantuar. i. 137, Rolls Ser.) But the commonest precautions were neglected, and early in March 1325 she crossed over to France with a scanty following. Froissart gives a pretty picture of her reception by her brother (ii. 29, ed. Kervyn de Lettenhove). But the only political advantage she obtained for England was a prolongation of the truce until 1 Aug. (Malmesbury p. 279). All through the summer Charles insisted that Edward should perform homage in person, but, instigated by Isabella, agreed to accept the homage of their eldest son, Edward, if the king would invest him for that purpose with Guienne and Ponthieu. On 12 Sept. the boy left England; but after he had performed homage, he and his mother lingered at Paris. About Michaelmas Edward wrote asking her to return. She sent back many of her retinue, and gave specious excuses for remaining at her brother's court. But her acts had now become so hostile that Bishop Stapleton, who had accompanied her son to France, escaped to England in the disguise of a pilgrim. On 1 Dec. Edward peremptorily ordered her to come home (Fœdera, ii. 615). But she had now formed a close political connection with the escaped traitor, Roger Mortimer, which soon ripened into criminal intimacy. Before Christmas it was feared she would invade England (Lit. Cantuar. i. 162). Her connection with Mortimer was notorious in England in March 1326. An increasing band of exiles and fugitives gathered round her. She protested that she would never return to her husband as long as the Despensers remained in power. Edward stopped all supplies, but Isabella was maintained by her brother, King Charles (Cont. Guill. de Nangis, ii. 61), who saw in her perfidy prospects of recovering Guienne.

In the spring of 1326 Isabella left Paris for her dower lands in Ponthieu (ib. ii. 67). She afterwards removed to Hainault, where