Isabella de Redvers (1237–1293)

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Isabella de Redvers (1237–1293)

Countess of Devon and Aumale. Name variations: Isabella de Fortibus; Isabella de Forz. Born in 1237 in England; died in 1293 in England; daughter of Baldwin de Redvers, 7th earl of Devon, and Amice de Clare; married Count William de Forz of Aumale, around 1249 (died 1260); children: Avelina de Forz (1259–1274), countess of Holderness; and one son.

An English heiress of great wealth, Isabella de Redvers was born in 1237, the daughter of Baldwin de Redvers, 7th earl of Devon and Amice de Clare , a noble Englishwoman. At age 12, Isabella married Count William de Forz of Aumale, a powerful landholder of Yorkshire. Eleven years later, in 1260, William died and left his widow and children extensive properties. Two years later, another death increased Isabel-la's wealth substantially; this was the death of her only brother, who had succeeded her father as earl of Devon. The earl had no children, and thus all his holdings passed to Isabella, who became countess of Devon as well as countess of Aumale.

Isabella, still a young woman, probably found herself with many ambitious suitors, but she refused to remarry. She was actively involved in the political tensions of her time, a period in which England's barons were conspiring and planning rebellions against King Henry III, under the leadership of Simon de Montfort. Isabella probably sided with her fellow nobles, but played the role of royal supporter on occasions when it would help her preserve her estates. She also spent much of her time in court, suing and being sued over various issues relating to her rights as an overlord and property holder. Isabella even sued her own mother over her rights to her father's property and all the revenues they generated; her mother argued that as the widow of the earl she was due some of that revenue as her own income, but her daughter disagreed. The suit was finally dropped by both sides but only after months of court battles and delays.

Avelina de Forz (1259–1274)

Countess of Holderness. Born on January 20, 1259; died on November 10, 1274, in Stockwell, England; buried at Westminster Abbey; daughter of William de Forz, 2nd count of Aumale, and Isabella de Redvers (1237–1293); married Edmund the Crouchback (c. 1245–1296), 1st earl of Lancaster, on April 9, 1269.

Near Isabella's death, the countess became involved in another political matter: the inheritance of her vast estates. She had inherited the entire Isle of Wight from her brother when he died; King Henry III wanted the Isle to be attached to the crown because of its strategic location in the English Channel. When Isabella's only son and heir died, her daughter Avelina de Forz became her heir, and King Henry and Isabella married Avelina to one of Henry's sons, Edmund the Crouchback, to assure that the Isle of Wight would remain in royal hands. But then Avelina died childless as well a few years later. In the end, it was on her deathbed in 1293 that Isabella sold the Isle outright to the king for a huge sum of money. A distant cousin inherited the great countess' wealth along with everything else she owned.


LaBarge, Margaret. A Small Sound of the Trumpet: Women in Medieval Life. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1986.

Laura York , Riverside, California

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Isabella de Redvers (1237–1293)

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Isabella de Redvers (1237–1293)