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Saturday, 31 May 2014

BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY : QUEEN PHILIPPA OF HAINAULT WAS QUEEN OF ENGLAND AS THE WIFE OF KING EDWARD III AND POSSIBLE THE FIRST BLACK QUEEN OF ENGLAND : GOES INTO THE " HALL OF BLACK GENIUS "

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Philippa of Hainault (24 June[1] 1314 – 15 August 1369) was Queen of England as the wife of King Edward III.[2] Edward, Duke of Guyenne, her future husband, promised in 1326 to marry her within the following two years.[3] She was married to Edward, first by proxy, when Edward dispatched the Bishop of Coventry "to marry her in his name" in Valenciennes (second city in importance of the county of Hainaut) in October 1327.[4] The marriage was celebrated formally in York Minster on 24 January 1328, some months after Edward's accession to the throne of England. In August 1328, he also fixed his wife's dower.[5]
Philippa acted as regent on several occasions when her husband was away from his kingdom and she often accompanied him on his expeditions to Scotland, France, and Flanders. Philippa won much popularity with the English people for her kindness and compassion, which were demonstrated in 1347 when she successfully persuaded King Edward to spare the lives of the Burghers of Calais. It was this popularity that helped maintain peace in England throughout Edward's long reign.[6] The eldest of her fourteen children was Edward, the Black Prince, who became a renowned military leader. Philippa died at the age of fifty-five from an illness closely related to dropsyThe Queen's College, Oxford was founded in her honour.

Family

Philippa was born in Valenciennes in the County of Hainaut, in the Low Countries, a daughter of William I, Count of Hainaut, Holland and Zeeland, and Joan of Valois, the granddaughter of Philip III of France.[7] She was one of eight children and the second of five daughters. Her eldest sister Margaret married Emperor Louis IV in 1324; and in 1345, she became the suo jure Countess of Hainaut upon the death of their brother William in battle. William II, Count of Hainaut, nicknamed the Audacious, was also possessor of the counties of Zealand and Holland as well as of the seigniory of Frieze: these vacant inheritances were devolved to Margaret after agreement between Philippa and her sister.[8] Edward III of England, however, in 1364–65, in the name of his wife Philippa, demanded the return of Hainaut and other inheritances which had been given over to the Dukes of Bavaria–Straubing. He was not successful, as it was the custom in these regions to favour male heirs.[9]
Philippa was interested in learning and was as avid a reader as her mother, Joan of Valois, who introduced French literary culture to the court of Hainaut.

Betrothal

King Edward II had 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 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.[10] The description runs:
The lady whom we saw has not uncomely hair, betwixt blue-black and brown. Her head is clean-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 her forehead. Her eyes are blackish-brown and deep. Her nose is fairly smooth and even, save that it is somewhat broad at the tip and also flattened, and yet it is no snub-nose. Her nostrils are also broad, her mouth fairly wide. Her lips somewhat full, and especially the lower lip. Her teeth which have fallen and grown again are white enough, but the rest are not so white. The lower teeth project a little beyond the upper; yet this is but little seen. Her ears and chin are comely enough. Her neck, shoulders, and all her body 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. And the damsel will be of the age of nine years on St. John's day next to come, as her mother saith. She is neither too tall nor too short for such an age; she is of fair carriage, and well taught in all that becometh her rank, and highly esteemed and well beloved of her father and mother and of all her meinie, in so far as we could inquire and learn the truth.[11]
Four years later Philippa was betrothed to Prince Edward when, in the summer of 1326, Queen Isabella arrived at the Hainaut court seeking aid from Count William to depose King Edward. Prince Edward had accompanied his mother to Hainaut where she arranged the betrothal in exchange for assistance from the count. As the couple were second cousins, a Papal dispensation was required;[12] and it was sent from Pope John XXII at Avignon in September 1327. Philippa and her retinue arrived in England in December 1327 escorted by her uncle, John of Hainaut. On 23 December she reached London where a "rousing reception was accorded her".[13]

Queen of England


Philippa of Hainaut is shown seated under the canopy
Philippa married Edward at York Minster, on 24 January 1328, eleven months after his accession to the English throne; although, the de facto rulers of the kingdom were his mother, Queen Dowager 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 upon her marriage or by bringing large numbers of foreigners to the English court. As Isabella did not wish to relinquish her own status, Philippa's coronation was postponed for two years. She eventually was crowned queen on 4 March 1330 at Westminster Abbey when she was almost six months pregnant;[14] and she gave birth to her first son, Edward, the following June just nine days before her sixteenth birthday.
In October 1330, King Edward commenced his personal rule when he staged a coup and ordered the arrest of his mother and Mortimer. Shortly afterward, the latter was executed for treason, and Queen Dowager Isabella was sent to Castle Rising in Norfolk, where she spent the remainder of her life.
Joshua Barnes, a medieval writer, said "Queen Philippa was a very good and charming person who exceeded most ladies for sweetness of nature and virtuous disposition." Chronicler Jean Froissart described her as "The most gentle Queen, most liberal, and most courteous that ever was Queen in her days."
Philippa accompanied Edward on his expeditions to Scotland, and the European continent in his early campaigns of the Hundred Years War where she won acclaim for her gentle nature and compassion. She is best remembered as the kind woman who, in 1347, persuaded 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 city.
She acted as regent in England on several occasions when her husband was away from his kingdom. She also influenced the king to take an interest in the nation's commercial expansion.[15] Philippa was a patron of the chronicler Jean Froissart, and she owned several illuminated manuscripts, one of which currently is housed in the national library in Paris.

Later years and death


Effigies of Edward III and Philippa of Hainaut
Always buxom and matronly, Philippa's figure had become stout in her later years. She had given birth to fourteen children and outlived nine of them. Three of her children died of the Black Death in 1348.
On 15 August 1369, Philippa died of an illness similar to dropsy in Windsor Castle at the age of fifty-five. She was given a state funeral six months later on 29 January 1370 and interred at Westminster Abbey. Her tomb, placed on the south side of the Chapel of Edward the Confessor, displays her alabaster effigy which was executed by sculptor Jean de Liège.
By all accounts, her forty-year marriage to Edward had been happy, despite his adulterous affair with her lady-in-waitingAlice Perrers, during the latter part of it.

Issue


Philippa of Hainaut's arms as Queen consort[16]
Philippa and Edward had fourteen children,[17] including five sons who lived into adulthood and the rivalry of whose numerous descendants would, in the fifteenth century, bring about the long-running and bloody dynastic wars known as the Wars of the Roses.

Legacy

Philippa was a descendant of Harold II of England through his daughter Gytha of Wessex, married to Vladimir II Monomakh of Kiev. His bloodline, however, had been reintroduced to the English royal family by Philippa's mother-in-law, Isabella of France, who was a granddaughter of Isabella of Aragon, the wife of Philip III of France. Isabella of Aragon's mother, Violant of Hungary, was a daughter of Andrew II of Hungary, a grandson of Géza II by Euphrosyne of Kiev, herself a granddaughter of Gytha. She was matrilineallydescended from Elizabeth the Cuman (born before 1241), a daughter of Kuthen, Khan of the Cumens,[18] thus bringing Central Asian genes into the English royal line.[19]
In 2004 she was voted fifth in a "Greatest Black Briton" poll.[20] Her presence derived from a claim promoted by the Black Cultural Archives that bishop Stapledon's description of her "brown" skin, broad nose and wide nostrils, is evidence of African ancestry. This view is dismissed by Edward III's biographer Ian Mortimer, who says that her family history is well-known.[21]
The Queen's College, Oxford is named after Philippa. It was founded in 1341 by one of her chaplains, Robert de Eglesfield, in her honour.