Maternal Abandonment and Surrogate Caregivers: Isabella of Angoulême and Her Children by King John

Wilkinson, Louise (2016) Maternal Abandonment and Surrogate Caregivers: Isabella of Angoulême and Her Children by King John. In: Virtuous or Villainess? The Image of the Royal Mother from the Early Medieval to Early Modern Era. Queenship and Power . Palgrave Macmillan, New York, pp. 101-124. ISBN 9781137513144, 9781137513151

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In 1217, Isabella of Angoulême, mother of the boy-king Henry III and his four younger siblings, left England, never to return. Within three years, Isabella had reasserted her authority over her inherited county of Angoulême and usurped the place of her ten-year-old daughter Joan as the bride of Hugh (X) de Lusignan, count of La Marche. It is not, therefore, surprising that Isabella has been condemned by most modern biographers for her unscrupulous behaviour and for apparently abandoning four of her five children by King John (reigned 1199-1216). Yet, as this chapter argues, Isabella probably had very little choice in the matter. Just as her involvement in English political life was strictly circumscribed under John, so too was Isabella excluded from English affairs in the early years of her son’s reign. A royal minority and the queen’s absence was also not without consequence for the royal children whom Isabella left behind; they created a situation where Henry III’s ministers needed to provide for the everyday safety, welfare and maintenance of the young king and his siblings. Although Joan married a new husband, Alexander II of Scotland, in 1221, her sisters Isabella and Eleanor, and their brother Richard all remained in England. As this chapter argues, Peter des Roches, bishop of Winchester, and the other chief figures of Henry III’s minority government were not insensitive to this state of affairs, ensuring that men and women who were loyal to the crown and of suitable birth, experience and character served as surrogate caregivers for the royal children.

Additional Information:This is a peer-reviewed chapter in an edited collection of essays.
Keywords:Medieval motherhood, Medieval childhood, Isabella of Angoulême, Henry III, Peter des Roches, Joan queen of Scots, Isabella of England, Eleanor de Montfort, Richard of Cornwall, Royal minorities, Medieval queenship
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V214 English History
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V130 Medieval History
Divisions:College of Arts > School of History & Heritage > School of History & Heritage (History)
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ID Code:41006
Deposited On:15 Jun 2020 10:56

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