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Margaret of France (c. 1282–1318)

Margaret of France (c. 1282–1318)

Queen-consort of England . Name variations: Marguerite of France; Margaret of Westminster. Born around 1282 (some sources cite 1279) in Paris, France; died on February 14, 1318 (some sources cite 1317); buried at Christ Church, Newgate, London; interred at Grey Friars Church, Newgate, London; daughter of Philip III the Bold (1245–1285), king of France (r. 1270–1285), and Marie of Brabant (c. 1260–1321); half-sister of Philip IV, king of France (r. 1285–1314) and Blanche of France (c. 1266–1305); aunt of Isabella of France (1296–1358); became second wife of Edward I Longshanks, king of England (r. 1272–1307), on September 10, 1299 (also seen as 1298); children: Thomas (b. 1300), earl of Norfolk; Edmund of Woodstock (1307–1330), earl of Kent; Margaret (b. 1306, died young); Eleanor (1306–1311); (stepson) Edward II, king of England (r. 1307–1327).

Within a year of the death of his beloved queen Eleanor of Castile (1241–1290), Edward I Longshanks, king of England, began negotiations for a second wife. Initially, he had his eye on the beautiful Blanche of France , daughter of Philip III, king of France, but Philip did not wish to sacrifice his eldest daughter to an aging king who already had an heir (Edward II), so at the peace of Montreuil in 1299 he delivered up her younger half-sister Margaret of France instead. She was 16.

Margaret's introduction to England and to married life was bleak indeed. As war still raged in Scotland, there was no time or money for a proper coronation, so following a hasty wedding ceremony at Canterbury on September 9, 1299, Edward returned to his military command. Margaret was left quarantined in the Tower of London to prevent her from contracting smallpox which had been brought to London by the Crusaders, and there she remained until Edward sent for him to join his campaign. Margaret was never given an official coronation, though she was acknowledged as his queen.

From this inauspicious royal debut, Margaret became a much admired and beloved

queen and had four children: two sons, Thomas and Edmund of Woodstock, and two daughters, Margaret and Eleanor (both died young). When Margaret did accompany her husband on campaigns, she was known to intercede with him frequently to save lives and forgive debts. It was recorded that on one occasion she pleaded for the life of the goldsmith who had made the crown for Robert I Bruce, king of Scotland. Captured and threatened with death, he was spared "solely at the intercession of our dearest consort, Margaret, Queen of England."

Before his death in 1307, Edward made it known that he wanted his son Edward II to marry Isabella of France (daughter of Margaret's half-brother Philip IV and his late wife Joan I of Navarre ); thus, in 1308, the 26-year-old Margaret traveled with her stepson to Boulogne to witness his wedding on January 25. Margaret would exercise great influence over her niece Isabella, who was only 13 when she married Edward.

Margaret then retired to Marlborough Castle in Wiltshire, and spent the next ten years of her life doing charitable work and offering patronage to historians and architects. She was instrumental in the building of London's Grey Friars Church where she was buried following her death in 1318, age 36.

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