Edward II notes
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Music John McCabe
Choreographer David Bintley
Design Peter J. Davidson
Costume Jasper Conran
Lighting Peter Mumford
Edward II | Isabella | Gaveston | Mortimer
Isabella was born in Paris, the daughter of Philip IV of France and Jeanne of Navarre. As a chld, she was promised in marriage to Edward II in order to improve relations with England after years of conflict. The unity was encouraged by Pope Boniface VIII, but delayed for many years due to wrangling in the contract, and attempts by Edward I to halt the wedding altogether. It was only after his death that the two were wed. Things did not get off to a good start however, when the groom apparently gave all of Isabella's wedding gifts to his gay lover Piers Gaveston.
Isabella was constantly rejected by her husband over the course of their relationship, in favour of his male lovers. Describing their relationship in the ballet, David Bintley describes her as a necessity of Edward's reign: 'Edward doesn't hate Isabella, he just doesn't want to sleep with her. His attitude towards her is "It's all fine if you just behave - don't make so much noise, let me have my lover and keep quiet."'
With the husband spurning her physical advances, Isabella was of course unable to provide him with an heir, and became increasingly upset at the court's initial belief that this was because she was physically unable to do so. Eventually, however, she did bear him four children, two daughters and two sons, the eldest of which, also called Edward, would later succeed his father.
Ultimately, however, her marriage to her husband was not a happy one, and over time Isabella's repeated mistreatment slowly turned her into the 'she-wolf' she is now often subtitled, who would turn on the king and bring about his violent end.
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