Isabella of Hainault

Isabella of Hainault (5 April 1170 in Valenciennes – 15 March 1190 in Paris) (Also spelled: Ysabella de Hainault or Ysabelle de Hainaut) was Queen of France as the first spouse of King Philip II. She was also formally a ruling countess of Artois de jure between 1180 and 1190.

Isabella of Hainault
Isabella's seal as queen shows her holding a sceptre and fleur-de-lis
Queen consort of France
Tenure28 April 1180–15 March 1190
Coronation28 May 1180
Born5 April 1170
Died15 March 1190(1190-03-15) (aged 19)
Paris, France
Notre-Dame, Paris
SpousePhilip II of France
IssueLouis VIII of France
FatherBaldwin V, Count of Hainaut
MotherMargaret I, Countess of Flanders
ReligionRoman Catholicism

Early life

Isabella was born in Valenciennes on 5 April 1170, the daughter of Baldwin V, Count of Hainaut, and Margaret I, Countess of Flanders.[1] Her father had her betrothed at the age of one to Henry, the future Count of Champagne.[2] He was the nephew of Adèle of Champagne, who was Queen of France. In 1179, both their fathers swore that they would proceed with the marriage, but her father later agreed to her marrying Philip II of France.

Queen of France

Isabella married King Philip on 28 April 1180 at Bapaume, and brought as her dowry the county of Artois. The marriage was arranged by her maternal uncle Philip, Count of Flanders, who was advisor to the King.[3] The wedding did not please the queen dowager, for it meant the rejection of her nephew and the lessening of influence for her kinsmen.

She was crowned Queen of France at Saint Denis on 28 May 1180. As Baldwin V rightly claimed to be a descendant of Charlemagne, the chroniclers of the time saw in this marriage a union of the Carolingian and Capetian dynasties.

Though Isabella received extravagant praise from certain annalists, she failed to win Philip's affections owing to her inability to provide him with an heir, though she was only 14 years old at the time.[4] Meanwhile, in 1184, King Philip was waging war against Flanders; angered at seeing his wife's father Baldwin support his enemies, he called a council at Sens for the purpose of repudiating her. According to Gislebert of Mons, Isabella then appeared barefooted and dressed as a penitent in the town's churches, thus gaining the sympathy of the people. Her appeals angered them so much that they went to the palace and started shouting loud enough to be heard inside.[5]

Robert, the king's uncle, successfully interposed; no repudiation followed, for repudiating her would also have meant the loss of Artois to the French crown.[6]

Finally, on 5 September 1187, she gave birth to the desired heir, the future King Louis VIII of France.


Isabella's second pregnancy was extremely difficult. On 14 March 1190, she gave birth to twin boys named Robert and Philip. Owing to complications in childbirth she died the next day, aged not quite 20, and was buried in the cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris. She was mourned greatly in the capital, having been a popular queen.[7]

The twins lived only four days, both dying on 18 March 1190.[8]

Her son Louis succeeded her as Count of Artois. Isabella's dowry of Artois eventually returned to the French Crown following the death of King Philip, when her son Louis became king.


"Queen Isabelle, she of noble form and lovely eyes."[9] In 1858, Isabelle's body was exhumed and measured at the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. At 90 cm from pelvis to feet, she would have stood about 1.72-1.75 m, (5'8"-5'9") tall. It was during this exhumation that a silver seal (now in the British Museum) was discovered in the queen's coffin. Little used during her lifetime, it is one of the few medieval seals with a royal connection to survive from the Middle Ages.



  1. Bouchard 1987, p. 294.
  2. Nolan 2007, p. 79.
  3. Bradbury 1997, p. 55-56.
  4. Bradbury 1997, p. 58-59.
  5. Nolan 2007, p. 83.
  6. Bouyer 1992, p. ?.
  7. Nolan 2007, p. 87.
  8. Archived 2008-03-04 at the Wayback Machine
  9. From the Chronique rimee of Philippe Mouskes


  • Bouchard, Constance Brittain (1987). Sword, Miter, and Cloister: Nobility and the Church in Burgundy, 980-1198. Cornell University Press.
  • Bouyer, Christian (1992). Les reines de France. Perrin.
  • Bradbury, Jim (1997). Philip Augustus: King of France 1180-1223. Routledge.
  • Nolan, Kathleen D. (2003). Capetian Women. Palgrave Macmillan.
French nobility
New title Countess of Artois
28 April 1180 – 15 March 1190
Succeeded by
French royalty
Preceded by
Adele of Champagne
Queen consort of France
Succeeded by
Ingeborg of Denmark
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.