Black, History, Royal Europeans, Marriage, Philippa









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King George III, Hainult, Isabella, Edward, George, Count

Edward Conway Stamp
Richard II England

When the time came for Edward to marry his mother, Queen Isabella would opt for a match with the house of Hainault.


Edward was married to Philippa of Hainult, daughter of William Count of Hainault, Holland and Zealand.


The marriage was not a love match at first rather a political move arranged by Isabella and her lover Mortimer of whom I shall discuss in due time. Edward was reputed to have visited the home of the count with his father years before and met the young Phillipa.


Michael Packe in his book King Edward III gives us a delightful description of the king and queen's first meeting: "He spied on the unwitting sisters, and pounced on the youngest of them, Philippa by name', at the time eight years old and nearest in age to Edward, who was nearly seven years. He had then subjected her to a minute and terrifying scrutiny.




Amorial of Earl of Neburgh
Henry Lord Darnley

Apart from some criticism of her remaining baby teeth (they were 'not so white', he had found little fault with her solid physiognomy. Her hair betwixt blue-black and brown and not uncomely', her forehead large; her eyes blackish brown and deep, her nose though 'somewhat broad at the tip and also flattened', was 'yet no snub-nose'; her mouth was wide and generous, her ears and chin were 'comely enough', her mouth was wide and generous, she was of middle height for her age, well taught, and of 'fair carriage'.


'Her neck, shoulders, and all her body and lower limbs are reasonably well shapen; all her limbs are well set and untamed; 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 to look at it seems to us'." The seven years later the marriage was negotiated by Isabella in a desperate attempt to gain assistance for the disposal of her husband, King Edward II.


For Philippa it was a love match, even crying at the departure of the boy king after the arrival at her home. Isabella quickly took advantage of the betrothal and hired an army of Hainulters 700 strong for her landing in England.


Phillipa and Edward were first married by proxy at her home in Valenciennes in 1327. She would be escorted to her new home in London by her uncle, Sir John of Hainault. On Sunday 24 January 1328 Edward and Phillipa were married in York Minister by Archbishop Melton. She would not be crowned Queen for two years until February 1330 at time 5 months pregnant with her first born, The Black Prince.


Marquess of Londonderry
Haliburton Clan

Her postponed coronation is attributed to the refusal of Isabella who refused to relinquish her Crown. She would be a good wife to Edward, always sweet of temperament and Edward was supposedly very fond of his Douce Couer, as he would call her.


She was reputed not to be a great beauty as husband's mother, but very warm hearted and loyal. She would bear him 12 children and have a good relationship with her children. It said the peace between Edward's Children as opposed to Henry II's children would be due to Philippa’s loving care. Edward himself, would value her not only as his wife, but as a valuable adviser. She would accompany him on his many expeditions one of them being Calais where she would stop Edward from executing the famous Burghers of Calais. Top left, Marquess of Londonderry coat-of arms and top right: Haliburton clan crest.



Earl of Hertford

Their marriage would be a happy in on the whole, however, this would not stop of him from sharing his bed with other women, notably Alice Perrers, once one of Phillipa's lady in waiting. It is not known how Philippa felt at her husband's obvious indiscretions.


It is known that at her death she provided for her many ladies with the exception of Alice, who she probably resented for the affair with her husband. Philippa would die in August 1369 only accompanied by 2 of her children, Prince Edward and Thomas. Her death was deeply felt by all especially the King who lost a great and wise adviser.


Margaret II of Avesnes (1311 – 23 June 1356) was Countess of Hainaut and Countess of Holland (as Margaret I) from 1345 to 1356. Margaret was the daughter of William I, Count of Hainaut, and his wife, Joan of Valois. On 26 February 1324 in Cologne she married Emperor Louis IV the Bavarian. Top left Earl of Hertford coat-of arms. The riddle of Queen Charlotte's African ancestry was solved as a result of an earlier investigation into the black magi featured in 15th century Flemish paintings.


King James

Two art historians had suggested that the black magi must have been portraits of actual contemporary people (since the artist, without seeing them, would not have been aware of the subtleties in colouring and facial bone structure of quadroons or octoroons which these figures invariably represented).


Enough evidence was accumulated to propose that the models for the black magi were, in all probability, members of the Portuguese de Sousa family.


(Several de Sousas had in fact traveled to the Netherlands when their cousin, the Princess Isabella went there to marry the Grand Duke, Philip the Good of Burgundy in the year 1429.)


Queen Charlotte, Lord Mansfield, Sir Allan Ramsay, Dido Elizabeth Lindsay, Holland


Below King Edward VI the boy king.


King Edward VI


The Negroid characteristics of the Queen's portraits certainly had political significance since artists of that period were expected to play down, soften or even obliterate undesirable features in a subjects's face.


Margaret II of Avesnes


Directly above, Margaret II of Avesnes (1311 – 23 June 1356)


Sir Allan Ramsay was the artist responsible for the majority of the paintings of the Queen and his representations of her were the most decidedly African of all her portraits. Ramsey was an anti-slavery intellectual of his day.


He also married the niece of Lord Mansfield, the English judge whose 1772 decision was the first in a series of rulings that finally ended slavery in the British Empire.


It should be noted too that by the time Sir Ramsay was commissioned to do his first portrait of the Queen, he was already, by marriage, uncle to Dido Elizabeth Lindsay, the black grand niece of Lord Mansfield.


Queen Charlotte


Thus, from just a cursory look at the social awareness and political activism at that level of English society, it would be surprising if the Queen's negroid physiogomy was of no significance to the Abolitionist movement.



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