Margaret of France

Seal of Margaret of France. Image Credit: Gutenberg.

By Katia Wright

Margaret of France, daughter of Philip III of France and Marie of Brabant, married Edward I of England in September 1299 as part of the treaty of Montreuil. Often overshadowed by Edward I’s first wife, Eleanor of Castile, Margaret remained a popular and influential queen for her short tenure. She was instrumental in rebuilding the relationship between Edward I and his son and heir, Edward of Caernarvon, the future Edward II. She remained an influential character, regularly performing acts of influence across her tenure for both her marital family and her subjects.

Margaret had a happy marriage with Edward I, despite the age difference, resulting in three children and numerous surviving personal correspondence between the couple. During her widowhood, Margaret disappeared from formal records, often only appearing at the court for specific festivities. It has been suggested that her disappearance from court was connected to Margaret ‘making way’ for her niece, the new queen consort, Isabella of France, though this is unlikely. Instead, Margaret may well have lost favour with her step-son in acting to help remove his favourite courtier, the unpopular Piers Gaveston.

Despite her minimal presence at court, Margaret remained an active dowager queen as shown in the evidence of her administrating her dower lands. Margaret died in February 1318 and was buried at the newly built Franciscan church in London, Greyfriars, of which she was a patron.

Recommended Reading

John Carmi Parsons, “The Intercessionary Patronage of Queens Margaret and Isabella of France,” in Thirteenth Century England VI: Proceedings of the Durham Conference 1995, eds., M. Prestwich, R.H. Britnell, and R. Frame, 145-156 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1997)

Lisa Benz, “Conspiracy and Alienation: Queen Margaret of France and Piers Gaveston, the King’s Favourite,” in Queenship, Gender, and Reputation in the Medieval and Early Modern West, 1060-1600, eds., Zita Eva Rohr and Lisa Benz, 119-143 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016)

Lisa Benz St. John, Three Medieval Queens: Queenship and the Crown in Fourteenth-Century England (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).

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