Isabella of Valois

Isabella of Valois
Duchess of Orléans
Isabela Richard2.jpg
Queen consort of England
Tenure 31 October 1396 – 30 September 1399
Coronation 8 January 1397
Born 9 November 1389
Paris, France
Died 13 September 1409 (aged 19)
Blois, Loir-et-Cher, France
Issue Joan of Valois, Duchess of Alençon
House Valois
Father Charles VI of France
Mother Isabella of Bavaria

Isabella of France (9 November 1389 – 13 September 1409) was Queen of England as the second spouse of Richard II. She married the king at the age of six and was widowed three years later. She later married Charles, Duke of Orléans, dying in childbirth at the age of nineteen.


Richard and Isabella on their wedding day in 1396. He was twenty-nine years old; she was six.

Isabella was the daughter of Charles VI of France and Isabeau of Bavaria.[1] On 31 October 1396, at the age of six, Isabella married the widower King Richard II of England in a move for peace with France.[2] The fact that she was a child was discussed during the negotiations, but Richard replied that each day would rectify that problem, that it was an advantage as he would then be able to shape her in accordance with his ideal, and that he was young enough to wait.

A tearful Princess Isabelle, dressed in a blue velvet dress sewn with golden fleurs de lys and wearing a diadem of gold and pearls, was carried by the Dukes of Berry and Burgundy to Richard’s pavilion. She was taken away by a delegation of English ladies led by the Duchesses of Lancaster and Gloucester. Four days later, on 4 November 1396, she was brought to the church of St. Nicholas in Calais where Richard married her. She was five days short of her seventh birthday. Her dolls were included in her trousseau.[3]

Isabella herself told the English envoys that she was happy to be Queen of England, because she had been told that this would make her a great lady.[4] She is described as pretty, and reportedly practised in order to be able to perform her role as queen. King Richard travelled to Paris to fetch her, where the wedding was celebrated with grand festivities at the French royal court, before they continued to the English enclave of Calais, where the formal wedding ceremony was performed on 31 October.

Queen of England

After the wedding, Queen Isabella followed Richard to England, where she was placed in Windsor Castle with her own court under the supervision of her appointed governess and chief lady-in-waiting Lady de Coucy (later replaced by Lady Mortimer). She was formally crowned Queen of England in Westminster in London the following year, 1397.

Although the union was political and an arranged marriage, Richard II and the child Isabella developed a mutually respectful relationship: Richard regularly visited her in Windsor, where he treated her with respect and entertained her and her ladies-in-waiting with humorous conversation, and Isabella reportedly enjoyed and looked forward to his visits.

By May 1399, the Queen had been moved to Portchester Castle for protection while Richard went on a military campaign in Ireland. During the following rebellion against Richard, Isabella was moved by the Duke of York first to Wallingford Castle and then to Leeds Castle. When on his return to England Richard II was imprisoned and died in custody, Queen Isabella was ordered by the new King Henry IV to move out of Windsor Castle and to settle in the Bishop of Salisbury's Thames-side Sonning Palace in formal house arrest.

Later life

In 1400, Richard was killed, and the French court requested that Isabella return to France. King Henry IV initially refused, deciding Queen Isabella should marry his son, the future Henry V of England, but she refused. Knowing her spouse was dead, she went into mourning, ignoring Henry IV's demands. In August 1401, he let her go back to France, but kept her dowry.[5]

In 1406, Henry IV repeated his suggestion that Isabella marry his son, but it was refused by the French court.

On 29 June 1406, Queen Isabella, aged 16, married her cousin, Charles, Duke of Orléans, aged 11.[6] She died in childbirth at the age of 19. Her surviving daughter, Joan, married John II of Alençon in 1424.[7] Isabella's body was interred in Blois, in the abbey of St Laumer,[8] where it was later discovered in 1624, curiously wrapped in bands of linen plated over with quicksilver. It was then transferred to the church of the Celestines in Paris, France.



  1. ^ Williams 2016, p. 28.
  2. ^ Hamilton 2010, p. 205.
  3. ^ Sumption 2011, p. 831.
  4. ^ Williams 2016, pp. 32–33.
  5. ^ Stratford 2012, pp. 14, 118.
  6. ^ Knecht 2007, p. 51.
  7. ^ Goodrich 1967, p. 112.
  8. ^ Goodrich 1967, p. 107.
  9. ^ a b c d Anselm 1726, pp. 109–110.
  10. ^ a b Anselm 1726, pp. 111–114.
  11. ^ a b Anselm 1726, pp. 105–106.
  12. ^ a b Riezler, Sigmund Ritter von (1893), "Stephan III.", Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB) (in German), 36, Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, pp. 68–71
  13. ^ a b Tuchman, Barbara W. (1978). A Distant Mirror. New York: Alfred A. Knopf Inc. p. 145. ISBN 9780394400266.


  • Anselm de Gibours (1726). Histoire généalogique et chronologique de la maison royale de France [Genealogical and chronological history of the royal house of France] (in French). 1 (3rd ed.). Paris: La compagnie des libraires.
  • Boutell, Charles (1863), A Manual of Heraldry, Historical and Popular, London: Winsor & Newton
  • Goodrich, Norma Lorre (1967). Charles of Orléans: A Study of Themes in his French and in his English Poetry. Librairie Droz.
  • Hamilton, Jeffrey (2010). The Plantagenets: History of a Dynasty. Continuum.
  • Knecht, Robert (2007). The Valois: Kings of France 1328–1589. Hambledon Continuum.
  • Stratford, Jenny (2012). Richard II and the English Royal Treasure. The Boydell Press.
  • Sumption, Jonathan (2011). The Hundred Years War, Volume 3: Divided Houses. Faber & Faber.
  • Williams, Deanne (2016). "Isabelle de France, Child Bride". In Martin, Catherine Gimelli; Melehy, Hassan (eds.). French Connections in the English Renaissance. Routledge.

English royalty
Title last held by
Anne of Bohemia
Queen consort of England
Lady of Ireland

31 October 1396 – 30 September 1399
Title next held by
Joanna of Navarre