Friday, 19 June 2015

Jilting Bernard Ezi

Princess Isabella (b.1332) was the eldest daughter of King Edward III of England and his wife Philippa. Isabella was spoiled and over-indulged by her father, who allowed and forgave her anything.
In 1351, when Isabella was 19 years old it was announced that she was to marry Bernard, second son of Bernard Ezi Lord d'Albret (1295-1358) and Mathe D'Armagnac (1300-48). Lord d'Albret was a Gascon lord and King Edward's chief lieutenant in the region.

Image result for edward iii 1350
King Edward III
Due to Isabella's willful nature, she must have at the very least agreed to the match, rather than her father arranging it. There was very little to be gained by King Edward by marrying Isabella into the Ezi family as they were not politically prominent. It is possible that it was a love match, and that Isabella had met the diplomat's son and fallen in love with him, and told her father that she wished to marry the young Frenchman. In early May the king wrote to Lord d'Albret agreeing to the betrothal "with mutually glad hearts", again showing that this match was not initiated by the king, and it is doubtful that Lord d'Albret would suggest such a marriage.

The wedding was to take place in Gascony, where the Ezi family were seated, at the request of Lord d'Albret. King Edward settled a marriage portion on Isabella of 4000 marks as well as £1000 per year, along with the condition that if for any reason the marriage does not go ahead, Isabella was to keep the money. Isabella's impressive wedding trousseau was an array of expensive materials and jewels, including; cloth of gold, Tripoli silk, Indian silk lined with ermine, all embroidered in silver and gold - using seven ounces of gold thread.

Isabella was to sail to Gascony immediately after Christmas, and on the 15th November five ships were placed west of the mouth of the Thames River ready for her journey. As well as this, all ships bound for Gascony were told to dock at Plymouth so that they could accompany the Princess' fleet on their journey. However, a week before she was set to sail Isabella suddenly changed her mind and called off the wedding. King Edward showed no signs of being angry with his daughter, and in fact seemed delighted with her decision. He rewarded her with money, estates and honours over the next few years.

Bernard Ezi was devastated by Isabella's actions. He signed all of his rights and possessions over to his younger brother, and then entered a Franciscan monastery where he died later that month.

It is possible that Isabella's actions were related to her own experience when she herself was jilted by Louis de Male, Count of Flanders in 1347. After nine years of refusing, Louis finally agreed to the marriage, however as soon as the engagement was formalised in Flanders the whole court absconded. Isabella was quite literally left at the altar by her fiance. Isabella had to make the return journey to England and returned humiliated. For a spoiled child who was accustomed to having her own way, this may have been a slight she could not forget. Or perhaps, she remembered how only three years earlier, her sister Joan had sailed to France on the way to her wedding and how she had died of the plague during the journey through France. A third, more selfish, reason is possible; Isabella saw herself gaining nothing by marrying. She had money and was the most important woman at the royal court after her mother the queen. Whatever the reason, Isabella had made her decision and there was no changing her mind. 

Image result for isabella de coucy 1332
Marriage of Isabella and Enguerrand, 1365
Isabella did finally marry on the 27th July 1365 at the age of 33. Having the eldest daughter of a king marry so late in life would have been highly unusual, especially as by the end of 1561 Isabella was their only surviving daughter. Enguerrand, Lord of Coucy, was brought to England in 1360 as a hostage to be exchanged for an English prisoner, King John II of France. Enguerrand was seven years younger than Isabella, and the son and heir of a wealthy French lord. It seems that while he was in England, Isabella fell in love with him; again she was allowed to choose her husband rather than have an arranged marriage. Isabella and Enguerrand had two daughters; Marie (1366-1404) and Philippa (1367-1411). King Edward did not stop indulging his daughter; he released Enguerrand from being his prisoner without demanding a ransom, and he later made him Earl of Bedford and Count of Soissons.

Isabella was with her father when he died on the 21st June 1377. She spent most of her time at the English royal court, as her husband returned to France only a few years into the marriage, so Isabella and her daughters lived at her father's court. After the accession of her nephew King Richard II, Enguerrand cut all ties with England. Isabella died suddenly in England in 1379.

No comments:

Post a Comment