Philippa of Hainault


Philippa of Hainault was the queen of the English king Edward III., was the daughter of William the Good, count of Holland and Hainaut, and his wife Jeanne de Valois, granddaughter of Philip III. of France. Edward visited the court of Count William in 1326 with his mother Isabella, who immediately arranged a marriage between him and Philippa. After a dispensation had been obtained for the marriage of the cousins (they were both descendants of Philip III.) Philippa was married by proxy at Valenciennes in October 1327, and landed in England in December. She joined Edward at York, where she was married on the 30th of January 1328. Her marriage dower had been seized by the queen dowager Isabella to pay a body of Hainauters, with whose help she had compassed her husband's deposition. The alliance ensured for Edward in his French wars the support of Philippa's influential kindred; and before starting on his French campaign he secured troops from William the Good, as well as from the count of Gelderland, the count of Julick, and the emperor Louis the Bavarian. Her mother Jeanne de Valois, visited her in 1331 and further cemented the community of interests between England and Flanders.

Before 1335 Philippa had established a small colony of Flemish weavers at Norwich, and she showed an active interest in the weaving trade by repeated visits to the town. She also encouraged coal-mining on her estates in Tynedale. Her eldest son, Edward the Black Prince, was born in 1330, and she subsequently bore six sons and five daughters. In November 1342 she became guardian of John of Gaunt and her younger children, with their lands.

The anecdotes of her piety and generosity which have been preserved are proof, of her popularity, although her agents are said to have taxed her estates heavily. In 1331 she interceded with the king on behalf of some carpenters whose careless work on a platform resulted in an accident to herself and her ladies, and on a more famous occasion her prayers saved the citizens of Calais from Edward's vengeance. There is a generally accepted story, based on the chronicles of Jehan le Bel and Froissart, that she summoned the English forces to meet the Scottish invasion of 1346, and harangued the troops before the Battle of Neville's Cross. She certainly exercised considerable influence over her husband, whom she constantly accompanied on his campaigns; and her death on the 15th of August 1369 was a misfortune for the kingdom at large, since Edward from that time came under the domination of the rapacious Alice Perrers.

Philippa was the patron and friend of Froissart, who was her secretary from 1361 to 1366. Queen's College, Oxford, was not, as is stated in Skelton's version of her epitaph, founded by her, but by her chaplain, Robert of Eglesfield. Her chief benefactions were made to the hospital of St Katharine's by the Tower, London.

— Derived the 1911 Encyclopaedia Brittanica.

Key events during the life of Philippa of Hainault:

Philippa born to a Count of Holland.
Philippa married to Edward, prince of Wales.
Edward II is deposed, Edward III assumes the throne of England.
Birth of the Black Prince, eldest son of Edward III.
Became guardian of her children's estates in France.
Interceded on behalf of the burghers of Calais, saving their lives.
  Bore nine surviving children to Edward III, five sons and four daughters.
Death of Philippa.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Queen Philippa and the Men of Calais  in  Cambridge Historical Reader—Primary  by  Cambridge Press
How Calais Was Taken  in  Stories from English History  by  Alfred J. Church
Queen Philippa and the Citizens of Calais  in  Patriots and Tyrants  by  Marion Florence Lansing
Siege of Calais  in  The Story of France  by  Mary Macgregor
Edward III of Windsor—The Siege of Calais  in  Our Island Story  by  H. E. Marshall
Siege of Calais  in  Historical Tales: English  by  Charles Morris
Philippa of Hainault  in  Great Englishwomen  by  M. B. Synge

Image Links

Philippa and the Burghers of Calais
 in  The Story of the English

Queen Philippa Pleading for the Men of Calais
 in European Hero Stories

Short Biography
Edward III Reigned for nearly 50 years. Invaded France, and won the Battles of Crecy and Calias.
Jean Froissart Famous historian of mediaeval France, especially regarding the Hundred Years War. Served as secretary to Philippa of Hainault.
The Black Prince Excellent general and leader who ruled alongside his father, Edward III. Victor at the Battle of Poitiers.