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Philippa of Hainault
Queen Consort of England
Philippa of Hainault-mini.gif
Philippa's coronation
Tenure 24 January 1328 – 15 August 1369
Coronation 18 February 1330
Born 1310–1315
Valenciennes, County of Hainaut, Holy Roman Empire
Died 15 August 1369 (aged c. 56)
Windsor Castle, Kingdom of England
Burial 9 January 1370
Westminster Abbey
(m. 1328)
House Avesnes
Father William I, Count of Hainault
Mother Joan of Valois

Philippa of Hainault (sometimes spelled Hainaut; Middle French: Philippe de Hainaut; 24 June 1310 (or 1315) – 15 August 1369) was Queen of England as the wife and political adviser of King Edward III. She acted as regent in 1346, when her husband was away for the Hundred Years' War.

Daughter of Count William of Hainaut and French princess Joan of Valois, Philippa was engaged to Edward, Prince of Wales, in 1326. Their marriage was celebrated in York Minster on 24 January 1328, some months after Edward's accession to the throne of England and Isabella of France's infamous invasion. After her husband reclaimed the throne, Philippa influenced King Edward to take interest in the nation's commercial expansion, was part of the successful Battle of Neville's Cross, and often went on expeditions to Scotland and France. She won much popularity with the English people for her compassion in 1347, when she successfully persuaded the King to spare the lives of the Burghers of Calais. This popularity helped maintain peace in England throughout their long reign.


Philippa of Hainault
Philippa of Hainault and her family seated under the canopy

Philippa was born on 24 June c.1310/15, in Valenciennes, Low Countries. She was one of eight children and the second of five daughters born from William I, Count of Hainaut, and Joan of Valois, granddaughter of King Philip III of France. The Royal House of Valois was a cadet branch of the Capetian Dynasty, also known as the House of France.

King Edward II decided that an alliance with Flanders would benefit England and sent Bishop Stapledon of Exeter on the Continent as an ambassador. On his journey, he crossed into the county of Hainaut to inspect the daughters of Count William of Hainaut, to determine which daughter would be the most suitable as an eventual bride for young Prince Edward. The bishop's report to the King describes one of the Count's daughters in detail. A later annotation says it describes Philippa as a child, but historian Ian Mortimer argues that it is actually an account of her older sister Margaret.

Growing up in the Low Countries in the period when this region was growing into a major trading centre, Philippa was well versed in finances and diplomacy. Her older sister Margaret succeeded their brother William II, Count of Hainaut, upon his death in battle. The counties of Holland, Zeeland and the seigniory of Frisia were devolved to Margaret after agreement between the sisters.

Four years later, in the summer of 1326, Isabella of France, the Queen of England, arrived at the court of Hainaut to seek aid from Count William in order to depose her husband, Edward II, from the throne. Prince Edward had accompanied his mother to Hainaut, where she arranged the betrothal to 13-year-old Philippa in exchange for assistance. As the couple were second cousins (as great-grandchildren of Philip III of France), a Papal dispensation was required; and sent from Pope John XXII at Avignon in September 1327. Philippa's retinue arrived in England in December, escorted by her uncle John of Hainaut. On 23 December, she reached London where a "rousing reception was accorded her".

Queen of England

Queen Plippia intercending for the Burghers of Calais byJ.D Penrose
Queen Philippa interceding for the Burghers of Calais by J.D. Penrose.
King Edward III half groat York mint
Half groat with portrait of King Edward III, York mint.

First years

In October 1327, Philippa married Edward by proxy through the Bishop of Coventry in Valenciennes. The official marriage was at York Minster on 24 January 1328, eleven months after Edward's accession to the English throne; although the de facto rulers were Queen Mother Isabella and her avaricious lover, Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March, who jointly acted as his regents. Soon after their marriage, the couple retired to live at Woodstock Palace in Oxfordshire. Unlike many of her predecessors, Philippa did not alienate the English people by retaining her foreign retinue or bringing large numbers of foreigners to the English court. In August, her dower was fixed. She became a patron of the chronicler Jean Froissart and owned several illuminated manuscripts, one of which currently is housed in the national library in Paris. Froissart began to describe her as "The most gentle Queen, most liberal, and most courteous that ever was Queen in her days."

As Isabella did not wish to relinquish her own status, Philippa's coronation was postponed for two years. She was crowned queen on 18 February 1330 at Westminster Abbey, when she was almost five months pregnant. She gave birth to her first son, Edward, the following June. In October 1330, King Edward commenced his personal rule by staging a coup and ordering the arrest of the regents. Shortly afterward, Mortimer was executed for treason and then the Queen Mother was sent to Castle Rising in Norfolk, where she spent a number of years under house arrest but with her privileges and freedom of movement eventually restored.

She was invested as a Lady of the Order of the Garter (LG) in 1358.

Political influence

Philippa proved to be the model of a queen and worked tirelessly for the crown, maintaining balance between royal and familial duties admired in tumultuous times. She was widely loved and respected as a queen who managed to have a successful marriage with Edward.

As the financial demands of the recent Hundred Years' War were enormous, Philippa wisely advised the King to take interest in the nation's commercial expansion as a different method of covering the expenses. She established the textile industry in Norwich by encouraging Flemish weavers to settle there and promoted coal mining in Tynedale.

She was appointed to serve as regent in 1346, while her husband was away for the Hundred Years' War.

In 1364 or 1365, Edward III demanded the return of Hainaut and other inheritances which had been given over to the dukes of Bavaria–Straubing in the name of Philippa, but he was unsuccessful as the custom in those regions favoured male heirs.

Military campaigns

Philippa served as regent of England during the absence of her spouse in 1346. Facing a Scottish invasion, she gathered the English army, fought the Scots at the Battle of Neville's Cross near Durham, and rallied the English soldiers on horse before them prior to the battle. This event resulted in an English victory and the Scottish King David II being taken prisoner, and held captive for eleven years.

Philippa accompanied her husband on expeditions to Scotland and the rest of Europe in the early campaigns of the Hundred Years War, where she won acclaim for her gentle nature and compassion. She was also remembered for persuading her husband to spare the lives of the Burghers of Calais, whom he had planned to execute as an example to the townspeople following his successful siege of that port.


EDuard Filpa
Effigies of King Edward III and Queen Philippa of Hainault

On 15 August 1369, Queen Philippa died of an illness similar to edema in Windsor Castle. She was given a state funeral six months later on 9 January 1370 and was interred at Westminster Abbey. Her alabaster effigy was executed by sculptor Jean de Liège. Her tomb was placed on the northeast side of the Chapel of Edward the Confessor and on the opposite side of her husband's grandparents, Edward I and Eleanor of Castile. Eight years later, Edward III died and was buried next to Philippa. By all accounts, their forty-year marriage had been happy.

The Queen's College, Oxford was founded by her chaplain Robert de Eglesfield in her honour.


Arms of Philippa of Hainault (1340-1369)
Philippa of Hainault's arms as Queen consort

Philippa and Edward had thirteen children, including five sons who lived into adulthood. Three of their children died of the Black Death in 1348. The rivalry of their numerous descendants would bring about the long-running and bloody dynastic wars known as the Wars of the Roses in the 15th century.

Name Birth Death Notes
Edward, the Black Prince 15 June 1330
Woodstock Palace, Oxfordshire
8 June 1376 Married his cousin Joan, Countess of Kent. Had issue (King Richard II of England).
Isabella 16 June 1332
Woodstock Palace, Oxfordshire
April 1379 or 17 June/5 October 1382 Married Enguerrand VII de Coucy, 1st Earl of Bedford. Had issue.
Joan 19 December 1333 or 28 January 1334
Tower of London
1 July 1348 Betrothed to King Pedro of Castile, but died of the plague before the marriage could take place. Two of Pedro's two daughters would later marry Joan's younger brothers, John and Edmund.
William of Hatfield December 1336
Hatfield, South Yorkshire
Died shortly after birth. Buried at York Minster before 10 February 1337.
Lionel, 1st Duke of Clarence 29 November 1338
7 October 1368 Married (1) Elizabeth de Burgh, 4th Countess of Ulster. Married (2) Violante Visconti, Marchioness of Montferrat. Had issue.
John, 1st Duke of Lancaster 6 March 1340
3 February 1399 Married (1) Blanche of Lancaster, member of the kingdom's most powerful and wealthiest family. Married (2) Infanta Constance of Castile. Married (3) his former mistress Katherine Swynford. Had issue (Henry IV of England and the Dukes of Beaufort).
Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York 5 June 1341
Kings Langley, Hertfordshire
1 August 1402 Married (1) Infanta Isabella of Castile and (2) Joan Holland (his 2nd cousin). Had issue.
March 1342
Tower of London
Died shortly after birth. Buried at Westminster Abbey.
Mary 10 October 1344
Bishop's Waltham, Hampshire
September 1361 Married John IV, Duke of Brittany. No issue.
Margaret 20 July 1346
1 October/25 December 1361 Married John Hastings, 2nd Earl of Pembroke. No issue.
Thomas Summer 1347 Windsor September 1348 Died in infancy of the plague. Buried at King's Langley Church, Hertfordshire.
William of Windsor before 24 June 1348
before 5 Sep 1348 Died in infancy. Buried at Westminster Abbey.
Thomas, 1st Duke of Gloucester 7 January 1355
Woodstock Palace, Oxfordshire
8/9 September 1397 Married Eleanor de Bohun, co-heiress of Humphrey de Bohun, 7th Earl of Hereford. Had issue.

See also

  • Counts of Hainaut family tree
  • Counts of Holland family tree
English royalty
Title last held by
Isabella of France
Queen consort of England
24 January 1328 – 15 August 1369
Title next held by
Anne of Bohemia
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