Friday, 24 September 2021
Sunday, 12 September 2021
This blog post will explore the longest-serving English consorts in the period 1066-1547, a period that commences with the Norman Conquest of England and ends with the death of Henry VIII.
Philippa of Hainault was the longest-serving English queen consort in the period 1066-1547. At the age of thirteen or fourteen, she married Edward III, who had succeeded his father as king of England the previous year. Their marriage took place in controversial circumstances: Edward's mother, Isabella, had made the decision to separate from her husband Edward II on the grounds that his favourite (and possibly lover) Hugh Despenser the Younger had usurped her in the king's affections. When the king refused to separate from Despenser, the queen determined to invade England and depose her husband, replacing him with her son, the teenaged Edward, Prince of Wales. However, Isabella required the assistance of Count William of Hainault in order to succeed in her aims. In return for the count's assistance, Edward would be betrothed to Philippa, the third surviving daughter of Count William. A papal dispensation was secured (the two being second cousins) and they were married by proxy in October 1327. Philippa journeyed to England in December and, the following month, she married Edward III at York Minster. Their marriage lasted four decades and, to all intents and purposes, was one of the most successful royal marriages of the Middle Ages. Philippa acquired a reputation as an intercessor and mediator, although recent research has suggested that she was not as an active an intercessor as traditionally believed (in comparison with her predecessors Margaret of France and Isabella of France). Perhaps most famously, she interceded for the burghers of Calais in 1347. Philippa seems to have been popular with her contemporaries and was praised for being 'gentle' and 'courteous'. However, her coronation was delayed until 1330 because her mother-in-law refused to relinquish her status. Philippa fulfilled the most important role of a medieval queen consort: motherhood. She and Edward had thirteen children together, a number of whom died in childhood. Their eldest son, Edward ('the Black Prince') died in 1376, a year before Edward III's death, and so the king was succeeded by his grandson, Edward's son Richard. Philippa died in August 1369 at the age of about fifty-five and was buried the following January at Westminster Abbey. Despite her success as queen consort, Philippa is arguably one of the lesser-known medieval queens consort, perhaps because of the lack of scandal she attracted.
My article about Lady Katherine Grey, younger sister of the executed Jane and a claimant to the throne of Elizabeth I (reigned 1558-1603), is available online at Team Queens. You can read it here: https://teamqueens.org/2021/08/12/lady-katherine-grey-tudor-heiress/
Saturday, 14 November 2020
Tuesday, 22 January 2019
Every piece of surviving evidence we have indicates that, contrary to traditional perceptions, Katherine was a conscientious queen who fulfilled her ceremonial duties aptly. I argue in my book that Katherine’s style of queenship may have been directly shaped by Henry VIII’s changing expectations about the queen’s role. Too often it is assumed that she was uninterested in fulfilling her royal duties, but it is barely ever considered that perhaps her husband had a direct say in the way that Katherine responded to her role. Had Katherine given birth to a male heir and had the king never discovered her pre-marital past, then I do believe she would have been regarded as a very successful queen consort.