Isabella of Angouleme
Isabella was the daughter of Aymer, Count of Angouleme. Her maternal great-grandfather was Louis VI, king of France. She was her father's heir and had been promised in marriage to Hugh IX de Lusignan, Count of La Marche, in an attempt to unite two feuding families of French nobility. However, the union of the two counties would have threatened the Angevin land-holdings in France, by dividing Normandy (held by John of England) from Aquitaine (then held by Eleanor of Aquitaine, John's mother).
With typical Angevin speed and ruthlessness, John simply seized the girl (Isabella was then about 12 years old) and married her himself, in August 1200. In doing so, he is generally reckoned to have precipitated the loss of English holdings in France: he gave the French king, Philip II, an excuse to confiscate his lands, as well as uniting the independant nobility of France against him (the king actually governed only a small area, around Paris, and was dependent on his nobles for the exercise of Royal power in the rest of his supposed realm).
John and Isabella had 5 children before his death in 1215:
- Henry, his successor
- Richard, who became Earl of Cornwall
- Joan, who married Alexander II of Scotland
- Isabella, who married the Emperor Frederick II
- Eleanor, who was to marry Simon de Montfort.
When John died, Isabella was still in her twenties. She returned to France, and in 1220 married the son of her former fiance, Hugh X of Lusignan, and had 9 children with him, including her Hugh's successor, Hugh XI; Aymer, who became a Bishop of Winchester; Alice who married the Earl of Surrey; and William who became Earl of Pembroke.
In her later years, Isabella was accused of plotting against the King of France (Louis IX). She fled to the abbey of Fontevrault, where she died in 1246. Most of her remaining family then upped sticks and went to the court of their half-brother Henry of England.