Philippa of Hainault, Queen of England
Born: June 24, 1314
Died: August 15, 1369
Windsor, Berkshire, England (Age 55)
Philippa in History
There is not much to be said about the life of Philippa of Hainault, daughter to Count William of Hainault, until her betrothal to Edward, Prince of Wales, eldest son and heir to King Edward II of England, in 1326. The marriage was arranged between Edward II's wife, Queen Isabella, a daughter of the former King Philip IV of France, and her lover, Roger Mortimer, both of whom were in the process of plotting a coup of Edward II, in order to place the young teenager, Prince Edward, on the throne and rule in his name as regents. Edward II was indeed deposed (and soon after murdered) in early 1327, and the prince was crowned as King Edward III. Philippa and the new king were married in January of the following year. She was not crowned, most likely due to intervention from Isabella and Mortimer, until after Edward III began his majority reign (1330), and their first child, also named Edward, was born that same year. All in all, the marriage would produce twelve children, seven of whom survived to adulthood. Philippa seems to have been a fairly active queen, participating in diplomatic missions and intervening, usually with mercy and compassion, on behalf of England's citizens, but it must be remembered that she was frequently pregnant and, therefore, unable to participate in events as much as she may have liked. Edward III attempted to press her claim to Hainault when her brother William died in 1345, but this came to nothing. Unfortunately, not much else of interest can be said about Philippa. She dedicated her life to being a faithful wife and queen to Edward III, providing him with a slew of heirs to carry on the Plantagenet dynasty in England. The marriage is believed to have been a happy one, with mutual respect on both sides, despite the king's numerous affairs. Philippa died in 1369, eight years before her husband's own death. Though not much can be said about Philippa in general, it would be even more difficult to say anything bad about her character.
Philippa in Shakespeare
Appears in: Edward III
Queen Philippa appears only within the final scene of Edward III. Earlier, it is mentioned that she played in a role in the subduing of the Scots, but one John Copland refused to hand over his prisoners to her, which included King David II. Copland later explains that he did not want to share the prisoners with anyone but the king himself. Within the play's final scene, Philippa advises her husband not to kill the wealthy citizens of Calais, which he said he would do if the town did not immediately surrender to him, which it did not. Edward III listens to his wife's advice and spares the noblemen, showing that the queen has both influence and compassion, very much like her historical counterpart. Most editions of the play will claim that Philippa was pregnant with John of Gaunt at the time of her meeting with the king in Calais. In reality, John of Gaunt was born in 1340, sixteen years before the Battle of Poitiers, which immediately precedes the meeting at Calais, and six years before the siege of Calais began. The only feasible child of the royal couple that Philippa could have been pregnant with at the time of the siege of Calais would be their daughter Margaret, who was born in July 1346. She gave birth to her last child, Thomas of Woodstock in 1355, the year before the victory at Poitiers.