Isabella of Angoulême

Isabella of Angoulême (c. 1187 – May 31, 1246) was countess of Angoulême and queen consort of England.

She was the only daughter and heir of Aymer Taillefer, Count of Angoulême, by Alix de Courtenay; her maternal great-grandfather was King Louis VI of France. She became Countess of Angoulême in her own right in 1202, by which time she was already queen of England. Her marriage to King John took place on August 24, 1200, at Bordeaux, a year after he annulled his first marriage. At the time of this marriage Isabella was aged about thirteen, and her beauty was renowned; she is sometimes called the "Helen" of the Middle Ages by historians.


It could not be said to have been a successful marriage, as Isabella was much younger than her husband and had a fiery character to match his. Before their marriage, she had been betrothed to Hugh X of Lusignan, Count of La Marche. As a result of John's temerity in taking her as his second wife, King Philip II of France confiscated all his French lands, and armed conflict ensued.

When John died in 1216, Isabella was still in her twenties. She returned to France and in 1220 proceeded to marry Hugh X of Lusignan, Count of La Marche, her former fiancé.

Isabella was accused of plotting against the French king in 1244; she fled to Fontevrault Abbey, where she died on May 31, 1246, and was buried there. Afterwards most of her many children, having few prospects in France, set sail for England and the court of their half-brother King Henry.


  • With King John of England: 5 children, all of whom survived into adulthood, including:
  1. the eldest, who became King Henry III of England on his father's death
  2. Richard, Earl of Cornwall
  3. Joan, the wife of King Alexander II of Scotland
  4. Isabella, the wife of Emperor Frederick II
  5. the youngest daughter, Eleanor, who would marry Simon de Montfort
  • With Hugh X of Lusignan, the Count of La Marche: 9 children, all of whom survived into adulthood, including:
  1. Hugh XI of Lusignan, Count of La Marche and Count of Angoulême (1221–1260)
  2. Aymer de Valence, Bishop of Winchester (1222–1260)
  3. Agnés de Lusignan (1223–1269), married William II de Chauvigny
  4. Alice de Lusignan (1224 – February 9, 1256), married John de Warenne, 7th Earl of Surrey
  5. Guy de Lusignan (d. 1264), killed at the Battle of Lewes
  6. Geoffrey de Lusignan (d. 1274), married in 1259 Jeanne, Viscountess of Châtellerault and had issue
  7. William de Valence, 1st Earl of Pembroke (d. 1296)
  8. Marguerite de Lusignan (d. 1288), married 1240/41 Raymond VII of Toulouse, married c. 1246 Aimery IX de Thouars, Viscount of Thouars
  9. Isabelle de Lusignan (1234 – January 14, 1299), married Geoffrey de Rancon
Preceded by:
Berengaria of Navarre
Queen Consort of England
24 August 1200 - 18 October 1216
Succeeded by:
Eleanor of Provence

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