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m. 21 Oct 1364
m. 13 Jul 1385
Facts and Events
Isabeau of Bavaria (also Elisabeth of Bavaria-Ingolstadt; c. 1370 – 24 September 1435) was Queen of France as the wife of King Charles VI, whom she married in 1385. She was born into the old and prestigious House of Wittelsbach, the eldest daughter of Duke Stephen III of Bavaria-Ingolstadt and Taddea Visconti of Milan. Isabeau was sent to France when she was around 15 or 16, on approval to the young French king who liked her enough to marry her three days after meeting her.
In 1389, Isabeau was honored with a lavish coronation ceremony and entry into Paris. Charles suffered the first attack of his lifelong progressive mental illness in 1392, and was forced to temporarily withdraw from government. These episodes occurred with increasing frequency thereafter, leaving a court divided by political factions and steeped in social extravagances. A 1393 masque for one of Isabeau's ladies-in-waiting—an event later known as Bal des Ardents—ended in disaster with the King almost burned to death. Although the King demanded Isabeau's removal from his presence during his attacks of illness, he consistently allowed her the authority to act on his behalf and granted her role of regent to the Dauphin of France (heir apparent), giving her a seat on the regency council, far more power than was usual for a medieval queen.
Charles' illness created a power vacuum that eventually led to the Armagnac–Burgundian Civil War between the supporters of Charles' brother, Louis of Orléans, and the royal dukes of Burgundy. Isabeau shifted allegiances between the factions, choosing courses she believed most favorable for the heir to the throne. When she chose to follow the Armagnacs, the Burgundians accused her of adultery with Louis of Orléans; when she sided with the Burgundians, the Armagnacs removed her from Paris and had her imprisoned. In 1407, John the Fearless assassinated Orléans, sparking hostilities between the factions. The war ended soon after her eldest son Charles assassinated John the Fearless in 1419—an act that caused him to be disinherited. Isabeau was present at the signing of the Treaty of Troyes in 1421, at which France ceded control to the English. Isabeau lived in English-occupied Paris until her death in 1435.
Although championed by contemporary author Christine de Pizan, Queen Isabeau was perceived as a spendthrift and irresponsible philanderess. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries historians re-examined the extensive chronicles written during her lifetime, concluding that much of her negative reputation was unearned and most likely the result of political propaganda written by contemporary chroniclers.