Thursday, May 2, 2013

Edward II and His Children

No, Edward III was not fathered by William Wallace. From Kathryn Warner:
Braveheart features the future King Edward II as a fairly major character, with Edward – in real life, an enormously strong, athletic and handsome man – caricatured as a useless feeble court fop whose lover is thrown out of a window and whose wife cuckolds him with William Wallace.  There are countless historical inaccuracies in Braveheart, which have been well detailed elsewhere, and I won’t go into them here.  I just want to focus on one: the statement at the end of the film that Wallace is the real father of the baby Edward’s wife Isabella is carrying, who is, presumably, intended to be Isabella’s first-born child King Edward III.

Let’s check some basic dates and facts here:

- Sir William Wallace was executed on 23 August 1305.

- Isabella of France arrived in England on 7 February 1308, having married King Edward II at Boulogne on 25 January.  [1]  She had recently turned twelve at the time of her marriage and arrival in her new husband’s kingdom; her biographer* places her date of birth sometime during the winter of 1295/96.  [2]  (Edward II was born on 25 April 1284, so was about eleven and a half years his wife’s senior.)  Isabella never met her husband’s father Edward I (‘Longshanks’), who had died on 7 July 1307 – not, incidentally, on the same day as Wallace, as depicted in Braveheart.  She was never princess of Wales, as she married Edward II after his accession to the throne and became queen of England on marriage.
* Paul Doherty, but this is a properly-researched academic article, not a sensationalist, hopelessly inaccurate novel.

- Isabella’s first child, the future Edward III, was born at Windsor on 13 November 1312, more than seven years after William Wallace’s death.  As noted above, Isabella’s date of birth means that she was nine at the time of Wallace’s execution, and was still in France at the court of her father Philippe IV.  She was seventeen or shortly to turn seventeen at the time of her eldest child’s birth.

- Edward II and Isabella of France had four children together, not one, the others being: John of Eltham, earl of Cornwall (15 August 1316-13 September 1336); Eleanor of Woodstock, duchess of Gelderland (18 June 1318-22 April 1355); Joan of the Tower, queen of Scotland (5 July 1321-7 September 1362).  In addition, Isabella may have suffered a miscarriage in or shortly before November 1313, when pennyroyal was purchased for her (though this is disputed).  [3] 

- Edward and Isabella had been married exactly nineteen years when the king was forced to abdicate in favour of their son, following Isabella and Roger Mortimer’s invasion of his kingdom; the fourteen-year-old’s reign as Edward III began on 25 January 1327.  I make this point because there is a widespread misapprehension that Isabella overthrew her husband and ruled with Mortimer while her son – presumed to be her only child – was still only a toddler. (Read entire article.)

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