[Coronation of Philippa of Hainault, 15th century, source: Wikimedia Commons]
Philippa was the second daughter of William I of Hainaut, Holland, and Zeeland and Joan of Valois. As a child she was highly educated and seems to have maintained an interest in learning throughout her life. She was already being considered as a potential bride for the future Edward III by the time she was eight. Bishop Stapledon of Exter provides a detailed description of her at that age including that she was “brown of skin all over, much like her father.”
Four years later, in 1326, Queen Isabella came to Hainaut, bringing her son Edward with her, to ask for William’s help in deposing her husband, Edward II. As part of their agreement, Philippa was betrothed to Prince Edward.* Accompanied by her uncle, she arrived in England in late 1327 and was married at the age of 14 in January of the next year.
[Philippa and her army, 15th century, source: Wikimedia Commons]
Philippa ruled as regent when Edward went off to fight the Hundred Years War, though she did accompany him a few times, as did most of their children. She was a popular queen, known for her kindness and generosity, as well as her patronage. Queen’s College at Oxford is named for her and was founded at her instigation. She also took an active interest in the textile trade, bringing several Flemish weavers to England.
She died of dropsy in 1369, survived by her husband and 9 of her 14 children. She was buried in Westminster Abbey.
*They did have to get a dispensation from the Pope first, since they were second cousins.
**Known as the Black Prince. Some say this is because of his black armor, but there is some evidence that he had the nickname even as a child.