Philippa of Hainault
Philippa was born in Valenciennes (then in Flanders, now France) and was the daughter of William III, Count of Hainaut and Jeanne of Valois, the granddaughter of Philip III of France. When she was nine the King of England, Edward II, decided that he would marry his son, the future Edward III, to her, and sent one of his bishops, a Bishop Stapeldon, to look at her. He described her thus:
"The lady whom we saw has not uncomely hair, betwixt blue-black and brown. Her head is cleaned shaped; her forehead high and broad, and standing somewhat forward. Her face narrows between the eyes, and the lower part of her face is still more narrow and slender than the forehead. Her eyes are blackish brown and deep. Her nose is fairly smooth and even, save that is somewhat broad at the tip and flattened, yet it is no snub nose. Her nostrils are also broad, her mouth fairly wide. Her lips somewhat full and especially the lower lip…all her limbs are well set and unmaimed, and nought is amiss so far as a man may see. Moreover, she is brown of skin all over, and much like her father, and in all things she is pleasant enough, as it seems to us."
She married Edward at York Minster, on 24 January 1328, eleven months after his accession to the English throne and, unlike many of her predecessors, she did not alienate the English people by retaining her foreign retinue upon her marriage or bringing large numbers of foreigners to the English court.
Philippa accompanied Edward on his expeditions to the Kingdom of Scotland (1333) and Flanders (1338-40), where she won acclaim for her gentleness and compassion. She is also remembered by history as the tender-hearted woman, who interceded with her husband and persuaded him to spare the lives of the Burghers of Calais whom he had planned to execute as an example to the townspeople.
Philippa and Edward had fourteen children, including five sons who lived into adulthood and whose rivalry would eventually bring about the long-running civil wars known as the Wars of the Roses. Their sons are listed below:
- Edward, the Black Prince (1330-76)
- Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence (1338-68)
- John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster (1340-99)
- Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York (1341-1402)
- Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester (1355-97)
Another three sons died in infancy. They also had six daughters. These children are listed below:
Philippa died of dropsy in Windsor Castle, and was buried at Westminster Abbey.
The Queen's College in Oxford is named after her. It was founded by one of her chaplains, Robert de Eglesfield, in her honour.
Most recently, during the 100 Great Black Britons' campaign to raise awareness of the numerous, positive, and notable contributions of people of African descent to British society, Queen Philippa, along with Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, consort of George III of the United Kingdom, was nominated for her achievements to British history.
Isabella of France
|Queen Consort of England
22 January 1383 - 7 June 1394
Anne of Bohemia
- Salmonson, Jessica Amanda.(1991) The Encyclopedia of Amazons. Paragon House. page 212. ISBN 1-55778-420-5