Queen Phillipa (1327-77): First Black Queen of England Mother to The Black Prince

From ProudToBeBlack.Synthasite.com


Daughter of William of Hainault a Belgian Lord, she was chosen at the tender age of 9 years old, by the then King of England Edward II to marry his son Edward III.

She was described by the Bishop of Stapledon as follows

” The Lady we saw has not uncomely hair, betwixt blue-black and brown. Her head is clean shaped; her forehead high and broad and standing somewhat forward. Her face narrows  between the eyes and the lower part of her face is still more narrow and slender than the forehead. Her eyes are blackish brown and deep. her nose is fairly even and smooth, save that it is somewhat broad at the tip and flattened, yet it is no snub nose, her nostrils are also broad, her mouth fairly wide. her lips somewhat full especially her lower lip… all her limbs are well set and unmaimed, and nought is amiss so far as a man may see. Moreover she is brown of skin all over and much like her father, and in all things she is pleasant enough, as it seems to us.”               

Philipa and Edward were married 5 years later and were crowned King and Queen in 1330, at this time she was 17 years old and already heavily pregnant with their first child, Edward (The Black Prince).

Many say that he was called this because of the colour of his armour, but there are records that show that he was called “black” when he was very small. The French called him ‘Le Noir’

A very remarkable woman she was wise, known and loved by the English for her kindness. When the King was abroad she would rule as his Regent.

Queens College in Oxford University ws founded under her direction by her chaplain in 1341 when she was just 28 years old.

When she died Edward never really recovered, and she was much mourned by him and the country. King Edward had a beautiful sculpture made for her tomb which you can see today at Westminster Abbey in London.


Through her children, Philippa reintroduced the bloodline of an earlier English King, Stephen, into the royal family. She was descended from Stephen through Matilda of Brabant, the wife of Floris IV, Count of Holland. Their daughter Adelaide of Holland married John I of Avesnes, Count of Hainaut, Philippa’s paternal great-grandfather. Matilda of Brabant in turn was the great-granddaughter of Stephen through her mother Matilda of Boulogne, the wife of Henry I, Duke of Brabant.

Philippa was also a descendant of Harold II of England through his daughter Gytha of Wessex, married toVladimir II Monomakh of Kiev. His bloodline, however, had been reintroduced to the English royal family by Philippa’s mother-in-law, Isabella of France, a granddaughter of Isabella of Aragon, the wife of Philip III of France. Isabella of Aragon’s mother, Violant of Hungary, was a daughter of Andrew II of Hungary, a grandson of Géza II by Euphrosyne of Kiev, herself a granddaughter of Gytha. Through her maternal great-grandmother, Maria of Hungary, she was descended from Elisabeth of Bosnia (born before 1241), a daughter of Kuthen, Khan of the Cumens and his Slavic wife, Galicie of Halicz, thus bringing Western Asian blood into the English royal line.

 Children of Queen Phillipa

Philippa and Edward had fourteen children, including five sons who lived into adulthood and whose rivalry would eventually bring about the long-running civil wars known as the Wars of the Roses. Their sons are listed below:

Edward, the Black Prince (1330-76)

Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence (1338-68)

John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster (1340-99)

Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York (1341-1402)

Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester (1355-97)

Another three sons and two daughters died in infancy. There were four surviving daughters, listed below:

Isabella of England (1332-1379)

Joan of England (1334-1348)

Mary Plantagenet (1344-1362)

Margaret Plantagenet (1346-1361)


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