Isabella of France
Isabella of France, born in 1295, was the daughter of the French king, Philip le Bel. At fourteen, she was married to the King of England, Edward II. Isabella, sometimes called Isabella the Fair, was likely pleased with the match; Edward was relatively young and quite handsome. Unfortunately, his loyalty, and perhaps his heart, had already been claimed by a young man named Piers Gaveston. Edward II even gave some of Isabella’s wedding dowry jewels to the young man.
While she had been raised to be a lady, Isabella was far more strong-willed than one might expect, and she did not take kindly to this insult, particularly when Gaveston was accorded more honors than her in her own court. In 1312, a group of English barons, with the support of the queen, first imprisoned and later executed Gaveston. Isabella ensured that the barons were pardoned.
Following Gaveston’s execution, the next ten years were relatively peaceful; however, that would not last. After some ten years, and the birth of an heir, the future Edward III, Edward II developed a close relationship with a much-hated noble, Hugh Despenser. With the support of the nobility, Isabella banished the Despenser family, burned their castles, claimed their possessions and tortured and killed their supporters. Edward II brought Hugh Despenser back, and several battles erupted.
Isabella took refuge in the Tower of London, where she met a prisoner, Roger Mortimer, and developed a relationship. She managed to smuggle Mortimer to France, then convinced Edward to let her take her son, the future Edward III to France. In France, she assembled an army and in 1327, invaded England. She had the support of both the nobles and the people and quickly defeated Edward II and the Despensers. Isabella became regent of England, during the minority of Edward III.
As a ruler, Isabella became power-hungry, executing a number of powerful nobles, as well as Edward II. Eventually, she was imprisoned and Edward III took control of England. Isabella, particularly later in life, most certainly earned her reputation as a bloody queen.