Tag: Hugh Despenser

Isabella ‘the She-wolf’ of France

Isabella was renowned for her beauty, but a woman due to circumstances, was to become hard and cruel and a word of warning to any men reading, the mind of a betrayed woman shown here will make your eyes water as you will find out.

Isabella 2 Isabella 4

Isabella of France was born we believe in the year 1292 and was daughter of Philip IV. She was betrothed to Edward II in the year 1303 when she was 11 years and married to him in 1308 after Edward had taken the throne.

She was praised for her great beauty, however this was something Edward, so historical theorists have concluded, did not appreciate in quite the same way and preferred the male company of his close friend Piers Gaveston who received favoritism over Isabella. Following Gaveston’s death in 1312 the marriage improved for a period of time.

However Edward was known as a despotic and weak King and as with Gaveston where he had been highly influenced Edwards new allies the Despensers had the same influence.

When war broke out with France in 1324 the Despensers persuaded the king that she was a risk to the country’s security so they took control of her estates and reduced her allowances. Isabella visited France in 1325 and it was here Roger Mortimer and her became lovers. Isabella, (I believe anyway) purposely tricked Edward and the Despenser into sending Prince Edward (the future King Edward III) over to France in order sign agreements on behalf of the King. With Prince Edward safe in his mother’s custody Isabella and Roger Mortimer plotted to remove the Despensers and Edward himself if necessary.

In September 1326 she landed in England and within four months Edward II and been deposed and imprisoned and Prince Edward crowned as Edward III of England in January 1327.

Isabella was now a woman who wanted revenge for the years she suffered in marriage to Edward and to a man that came between them after Gaveston’s death. Her delight and enjoyment in watching Hugh Despenser gruesome execution.

Eight days after his capture on the 24th November 1326 he was executed in Hereford. He was dragged through the streets with each limb tied to a different horse where he was pulled and dragged through the streets to the castle. He was then hanged but only until he was nearly dead. All the time Isabella watched on and smiled with great satisfaction. Then lowered and tied to a ladder whilst the executioner climbed up beside him and cut off all his clothing. Hugh hung there stretched out naked. According to one chronicler he was a very well hung man, perhaps this was one of the reasons Edward had grown so fond of him. His great manhood would do him no good now as the executioner grabbed hold of his genitals and, whilst Hugh le Despenser is still living and breathing cuts off his penis and testicles and holds them out for Isabella to enjoy the site of his pain. Still breathing the executioner cuts out his entrails and heart and then decapitates him whilst Isabella looks on laughing and feasting as the crowds cheer. Isabella and Roger Mortimer celebrated into the night. But she was not finished, there was still her husband held captive to deal with. There could be no public execution of a king yet whilst imprisoned who would know what would happen to him.

Hugh Despenser 1

One thing for sure is Edward dies whilst in captivity, or pretty sure if we dismiss that he escaped and wandered the country as hermit. The question is how died, whichever way it was I am going on the theory that Isabella had an influence in what happened.

First theory  (Oblige me if you will with a little poetic licence) : Edward whilst in captivity was treated badly by his gaolers, kept in a cell with the stench of his own excrement and buckets from the latrine emptied over his head for fun. Then one night his cell door was opened and three gaolers walked in, they picked him up and threw him face down on the singular table in the cell and pulled off his trousers. It was then that Edward first felt the heat and then saw the red glowing end of the heated poker. Two of the men pulled Edwards legs wide apart as the other pushed the poker up his rectum. It is said that all those in neighboring cells had never heard such screams of pain.


Well that’s one theory but not very likely. In fact I seemed to recollect that this story never materialized until many centuries later. What I think is the most likely is he was left to starve, leaving no incrimination on the Queen or Roger Mortimer.