Damien F. Mackey
E’en she, the mother-queen, proud Isabel
Bavaria’s haughty princess—may be seen,
Arrayed in armor, riding through the camp;
With poisonous words of irony she fires
The hostile troops to fury ‘gainst her son,
Whom she hath clasped to her maternal breast.
A curse upon her, and may God prepare
For her a death like haughty Jezebel’s
I repeat what I wrote in the last article, on Queen Isabella of France: What was it about these queens “Isabella” (of Angoulême, of France) that they acquired reputations as other Jezebels?
And apparently we can now also add to this list Queen Isabella (or Isabeau) of Bavaria.
Certainly, at least, Encyclopædia Britannica accords the queen rather little favour: “Capricious and politically unskilled … despised by both the French and the English”.
Isabella of Bavaria, Isabella also rendered Elizabeth, French Isabeau, or Élisabeth, de Bavière (born 1371—died September 1435, Paris), queen consort of Charles VI of France, who frequently was regent because of her husband’s periodic insanity. Her gravest political act was the signing of the Treaty of Troyes (May 21, 1420), which recognized King Henry V of England as heir to the French crown in place of her son Charles (afterward Charles VII), who was to be exiled from France.
The daughter of Stephen III, duke of Bavaria-Ingolstadt, she was married to Charles VI on July 17, 1385. Her husband’s first severe attack of insanity (Aug. 5, 1392) caused her great distress; for years she sought remedies, both medical and supernatural. She bore the King six children between 1393 and 1403, but, as his illness grew worse, his rebuffs (he occasionally did not recognize her) drove her into flagrant sexual misconduct. Her brother-in-law, Louis, duc d’Orléans, became her constant companion, though it has not been proved that he was her lover.
After the murder of Orléans (1407) she relied on John the Fearless, duke of Burgundy, who rescued her from imprisonment by her son, the dauphin Charles (1417), and with her set up governments, at Chartres and then at Troyes, that rivalled the administration at Paris.
Capricious and politically unskilled, Isabella saw John the Fearless desert her with the intention of joining the dauphin Charles against the English, who were preparing to attack Paris. She died despised by both the French and the English. ….
According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isabeau_of_Bavaria Isabella “was accused of “incest, moral corruption, treason, avarice and profligacy … political aspirations and involvements”.”
Reputation and legacy …
Isabeau was dismissed by historians as a wanton, weak and indecisive leader. …. Her critics accepted skewed interpretations of her role in the negotiations with England, resulting in the Treaty of Troyes, and in the rumors of her marital infidelity with Orléans. Gibbons writes that a queen’s duty was to secure the succession to the crown and look after her husband; historians described Isabeau as having failed in both respects, and she came to be seen as one of the great villains of history. Gibbons goes on to say that even her physical appearance is uncertain; depictions of her vary depending on whether she was to be portrayed as good or evil.
Rumored to be a bad mother, she was accused of “incest, moral corruption, treason, avarice and profligacy … political aspirations and involvements”. ….
After the onset of the King’s illness, a common belief was that Charles’ mental illness and inability to rule were due to Isabeau’s witchcraft; as early as the 1380s rumors spread that the court was steeped in sorcery. In 1397 Orléans’ wife, Valentina Visconti, was forced to leave Paris because she was accused of using magic. The court of the “mad king” attracted magicians with promises of cures who were often used as political tools by the various factions. Lists of people accused of bewitching Charles were compiled, with Isabeau and Orléans both listed.
The accusations of adultery were rampant. According to Pintoin’s chronicle, “[Orléans] clung a bit too closely to his sister-in-law, the young and pretty Isabeau of Bavaria, the queen. This ardent brunette was twenty-two; her husband was insane and her seductive brother-in-law loved to dance, beyond that we can imagine all sorts of things”. Pintoin said of the Queen and Orléans that they neglected Charles, behaved scandalously and “lived on the delights of the flesh”, spending large amounts of money on court entertainment. ….
Isabeau was accused of indulging in extravagant and expensive fashions, jewel-laden dresses and elaborate braided hairstyles coiled into tall shells, covered with wide double hennins that, reportedly, required widened doorways to pass through. In 1406 a pro-Burgundian satirical pamphlet in verse allegory listed Isabeau’s supposed lovers. She was accused of leading France into a civil war because of her inability to support a single faction; she was described as an “empty headed” German; of her children it was said that she “took pleasure in a new pregnancy only insofar as it offered her new gifts”; and her political mistakes were attributed to her being fat.
In the 18th and 19th centuries historians characterized Isabeau as “an adulterous, luxurious, meddlesome, scheming, and spendthrift queen”, overlooking her political achievements and influence. A popular book written by Louise de Karalio (1758–1822) about the “bad” French queens prior to Marie Antoinette is, according to Adams, where “Isabeau’s black legend attains its full expression in a violent attack on the French royalty in general and queens in particular.” Karalio wrote: “Isabeau was raised by the furies to bring about the ruin of the state and to sell it to its enemies; Isabeau of Bavaria appeared, and her marriage, celebrated in Amiens on July 17, 1385, would be regarded as the most horrifying moment in our history”. Isabeau was painted as Orléans’ passionate lover, and the inspiration for the Marquis de Sade‘s unpublished 1813 novel Histoire secrete d’Isabelle de Baviere, reine de France, about which Adams writes, “submitting the queen to his ideology of gallantry, [the Marquis de Sade] gives her rapaciousness a cold and calculating violence … a woman who carefully manages her greed for maximum gratification.” ….
Compare: I Kings 21:25: “Surely there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do evil in the sight of the LORD, because Jezebel his wife incited him”.
2 Kings 9:22: “And when Jehoram saw Jehu, he said, ‘Is it peace, Jehu?’
He answered, ‘What peace can there be, so long as the whorings and the sorceries of your mother Jezebel are so many?’.”