Philippa of Hainault was Queen of England as the wife of King Edward III. Philippa was born in Valenciennes in the county of Hainault in the Low Counties, to William I, Count of Hainault and Joan of Valois, Countess of Hainault.
Philippa as Queen of England
Philippa was betrothed to Prince Edward, when in the summer of 1326; Queen Isabella arrived at the Hainault court seeking aid from Count William to depose King Edward. Since they were second cousins a papal dispensation was required, and it was sent from Pope John XXII at Avignon in September 1327.
Philippa married Edward at York Minster on 24 January 1328, eleven months after his accession to the English throne: although, the de factor rulers of the Kingdom were his mother, Dowager Isabella and Roger Martiner who jointly acted as his regents.
After their marriage the couple retired to live at Woodstock palace in Oxford shire. 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. She did not wish to relinquish her status. She was later crowned Queen on 4 March 1330 at Westminster Abbey when she was almost 6 months pregnant. She gave birth to her first son, Edward, the following June just nine months before her sixteen birthday.
Philippa accompanied Edward in all his expedition in Scotland, and the European continent in his early campaigns of the Hundred Years War. She won acclaim for her gentle nature and compassion. She is remembered as the kind woman who persuaded her husband to spare the lives of the Burghers of Calais, in 1347, whom he had planned to execute as an example to towns people following his successful siege of that City.
In 1846, Philippa served as the regent of England during her spouse’s absence. She was forced to meet the Scottish invasion and gather the English army to meet the Scotts in a successful battle, which resulted in English victory and the Scottish king being arrested and taken prisoner.
Philippa was a patron of the chronicler Jean Froissart and she owned several illuminated manuscripts. She also influenced the king to take part in the nation’s commercial expansion.
Later Years and Death
Philippa had given birth to thirteen children, three of whom died of the Black Death in 1348. On the 15 August 1369, Philippa died to illness similar to edema in Windsor Castle at age fifty five. She was given a state funeral six months later on 29 January 1370.