440). Froissart's statement (xv. 164, ed. Kervyn de Lettenhove) that she was affianced to the son of the Duke of Brittany is an error.
Richard II had become a widower in 1394, and was very anxious for a permanent good understanding with France, and had already concluded a short truce with that country. He therefore proposed to marry Isabella, then a child of six. The first commissions to treat of the marriage were issued by Richard in July 1395 (Fœdera, vii. 802). But there were difficulties on both sides which protracted the negotiations. In France Louis of Orleans and in England Thomas of Gloucester disliked the match, and the French council urged that a settled peace or a long truce was an indispensable preliminary of the alliance. But the general desire of both countries to secure a peace triumphed over every obstacle.
Young as she was, Isabella, when visited by Mowbray, the earl-marshal, who was at the head of the English embassy, replied, ‘of her own accord, and without the advice of any one,’ that she would willingly be queen of England, ‘for they tell me that then I shall be a great lady’ (Froissart, xv. 186). The ambassadors brought back to Richard glowing accounts of the precocity, intelligence, and beauty of the child. After a second embassy had been despatched the marriage contract was signed on 9 March 1396 at Paris (Fœdera, vii. 820). By it Isabella received a marriage portion of eight hundred thousand francs of gold, of which three hundred thousand were to be paid down at once, and the rest in annual instalments of one hundred thousand. It was provided, however, that if Richard died before she attained the age of twelve, all that had been actually paid of this sum should be refunded, except the original payment of three hundred thousand. In the same case Isabella was to be allowed to return freely to France with all her property. She was also to renounce all her rights to the French throne. A truce for twenty-eight years, carefully kept separate from the marriage treaty, was signed at the same time (Cosneau, Les grandes Traités de la guerre de Cent Ans, pp. 71–99). On 12 March the betrothal took place in the Sainte Chapelle, before the patriarch of Alexandria, the earl-marshal acting as Richard's proxy (Religieux de Saint-Denys, ii. 412). There were great rejoicings. The new queen Isabella would end the wars which the former queen Isabella had begun (ib. ii. 414). Dispensations were obtained from both popes (Fœdera, vii. 836; Report on Fœdera, App. D, p. 63), and the chief English lords, including Henry of Derby, bound themselves to allow Isabella to return freely to France if Richard died before her (ib. pp. 63–4).
Isabella, provided with an equipment of unheard-of splendour, and followed by her father, was taken through St.-Denis to Picardy (Religieux de Saint-Denys, ii. 450, 452–462, 466; Douët-D'Arcq, Pièces inédites sur le règne de Charles VI, i. 130, Soc. de l'Histoire de France; FROISSART, xv. 304–6; J. Juvenal des Ursins in Michaud et Poujalat, Coll. de Mémoires, 1e série, ii. 404–7; Walsingham, Hist. Anglic. ii. 221–2; Otterbourne, pp. 186–7). Richard was waiting for her at Calais. At the second interview of the kings on 28 Oct. Isabella was handed over by her father as a pledge of peace, Richard loudly proclaiming his entire satisfaction at the marriage. She was entrusted to the Duchesses of Lancaster and Gloucester, who had brought her to Calais in a magnificent litter. The lady of Coucy was the chief of her French attendants. Isabella was married to Richard at St. Nicholas Church, Calais, by Archbishop Arundel. The date is variously given (1 Nov. Froissart, xv. 306; 4 Nov. Religieux de Saint-Denys, ii. 470, which is probably right; 10 Nov. Monk of Evesham, p. 129, which is plainly too late). On 4 Nov., after the ceremony, the first three hundred thousand francs of her portion were paid (Fœdera, vii. 846). After a short stay at Calais, Isabella was taken to Eltham through Dover and Canterbury. On 23 Nov. she made her solemn entry into London (Monk of Evesham, p. 129). On 5 Jan. she was crowned at Westminster by Arundel. Enormous sums were lavished on her reception, and she received many costly presents (Chronique de la Traïson, pp. 108–13).
Richard showed a remarkable attachment to Isabella. He learnt from her French friends a strong love of display and a keen desire to make himself absolute. Isabella's marriage was the prelude to his successful attempt at despotism in 1397.
Isabella resided at Eltham, Leeds Castle in Kent, Windsor, and other places in the neighbourhood of London. Just before his departure for Ireland (May 1399) Richard got tired of the extravagance of the lady of Coucy, and left orders behind him that she should be dismissed (ib. p. 163). He parted with Isabella after a very affecting interview at Windsor, where great jousts had been given in her honour (Froissart, xvi. 151). Richard promised that she should follow him (Chronique de la Traïson, pp. 163–8). They never met again.
Isabella was ill of grief for a fortnight or more, and was then removed to Wallingford Castle, while her French attendants were dis-