28 January, 2016

28 January 1271: Death of Isabel of Aragon, Queen of France

Isabel of Aragon was the paternal grandmother of Edward II's queen Isabella of France, who was presumably named after her. Today is the 745th anniversary of her death.

The years 1270/71 took a heavy toll on the French royal family. While taking part in an unsuccessful crusade in Tunis, King Louis IX died on 25 August 1270, at the age of fifty-six. His twenty-year-old fourth (but second surviving) son Jean Tristan had died three weeks earlier, also in Tunis; it is likely that both men died of dysentery. (Jean Tristan had been born in Damietta, Egypt in 1250 during Louis's first crusade.) Louis's eldest daughter Isabelle, queen of Navarre, died on 27 April 1271, not quite thirty. His third daughter Marguerite, duchess of Brabant, died shortly after childbirth sometime in July 1271, aged only sixteen. His brother Alphonse of Poitiers died on 21 August 1271, and Alphonse's wife Jeanne of Toulouse four days after her husband, on the first anniversary of Louis's death.

Yet another casualty of these tragic years for the French royal family was Louis IX's daughter-in-law Isabel of Aragon, who had married his second (but eldest surviving) son Philip, the future Philip III, in 1262 when she was about fifteen and he seventeen. Isabel was one of the daughters of King Jaime I el Conquistador of Aragon and his second wife Violante or Yolande of Hungary, daughter of Andrew II, king of Hungary and Croatia. Isabel's eldest sister Violante of Aragon married Edward II's uncle Alfonso X of Castile and was the mother of Sancho IV. Her eldest brother Pedro III succeeded their father as king of Aragon and was the father of Alfonso III (betrothed for many years to Edward II's sister Eleanor) and Jaime II, and her second brother Jaime became king of Majorca.

Isabel bore four children, of whom two survived: Philip IV, king of France, father of three kings of France and the queen of England, born sometime in 1268, and Charles, count of Valois, born on 12 March 1270 and father of Philip VI of France. In January 1271, barely even in her mid-twenties, Isabel of Aragon was thrown from her horse in the town of Cosenza in southern Italy, on the royal family's way back from Tunis to France. She was pregnant with her fifth child. Sadly, she died a few days after her accident, on 28 January, and her unborn child with her. She had been queen of France for a mere five months.

Isabel of Aragon was the grandmother of four kings of France (Louis X, Philip V, Charles IV and Philip VI) and the great-grandmother of Edward III, king of England and of Joan II, queen of Navarre. Via her son Charles of Valois, she was the ancestor of the Valois dynasty of French kings, and via Edward III, of all the kings and queens of England since 1327. Queen Isabel was also a descendant of Harold Godwinson, the king of England killed at the battle of Hastings in 1066, and Harold's daughter Gytha of Wessex and her husband Vladimir Monomakh, grand prince of Kiev. (Harold Godwinson - Gytha of Wessex - Mstislav the Great, grand prince of Kiev - Euphrosyne of Kiev - Bela III, king of Hungary - Andrew III, king of Hungary - Violante of Hungary - Isabel of Aragon). The blood of Harold Godwinson thus returned to the English royal family when Isabel of Aragon's great-grandson Edward III came to the throne in 1327.


Anerje said...

How tragic that her death occurred from a riding accident, and her being pregnant.

Anonymous said...

Certainly an interesting lineage. I may have to moderate what I say (I sometimes tease ultra-staunch fans of the monarchy by saying that there hasn't been a real British monarch since 1066) but Isabel was of part-British descent I learn. I'm interested that you find out these "off the beaten track" facts but I suppose they are there for anyone to find if one knows how to do the sleuthing (though language skills are handy I guess - I just about scraped a pass at O level Latin).

Paticia O

chris y said...


There have been lots of British kings since 1066, unless Scotland is no longer part of Britain. Also, all English monarchs since Henry II are descended from the House of Wessex via St Margaret of Scotland who was the granddaughter of Edmund Ironside, and her daughter Eadgyth/Matilda (she changed her name to placate the Norman barons) who was queen to Henry I and mother of the Empress Matilda.

sami parkkonen said...

What I really would like to see one day in th future is the family map o royals in medieval Europe. I think that would make any spider cry in shame fo their web designs.

Once again, tons of information!