I've seen it stated more times than I can count online and in books (both fiction and non-fiction) that Edward II cruelly neglected Isabella after their wedding in January 1308 because he didn't fall madly in love with her and consummate their marriage immediately. There was a gap of a little over four years between their wedding and the conception of their first child Edward III, and you seem to think this is bizarre and unaccountable, and somehow wrong and bad of Edward, and proof of what a callous heartless neglectful uncaring husband he must have been and how he must have made Isabella suffer, and how this gap of four years must be attributable to his love of men in general or Piers Gaveston in particular, which love prevented him doing his marital duty, to the detriment of poor sad suffering Isabella. I've lost count of the number of novels I've read which begin with Isabella upset at her wedding because her gorgeous new husband inexplicably shows no interest in her.
And just be totally honest with me here: if Edward had made Isabella bear a child within a year or two of their marriage when she was still barely into her teens, wouldn't you then be shouting 'paedophile' and 'pervert' at him? Wouldn't you be furious that he would so cavalierly ignore the health and well-being of his young queen and risk the possibility that she would be unable to bear more children and possibly die in the attempt to bear the first one? Wouldn't consummating the marriage have been much more callous and cruel than not doing so? So please, can you tell me exactly what it is that you think Edward should have done? It seems to me that you think his not having sex with a twelve-year-old makes him a heartless neglectful husband and Isabella a poor little victim forced to 'compete' with someone else for Edward's affections, yet you cannot possibly prefer him to have had sex with a prepubescent. I simply don't believe that. So what do you think he should have done? What would have been the 'right' time for them to consummate their marriage and become parents, in your eyes? Do you really think that sixteen is too old for Isabella to have become pregnant for the first time, and if so, what do you think would have been a more suitable age? Edward and Isabella's daughter Eleanor of Woodstock gave birth to her first child the month before her fifteenth birthday; do you find this preferable, and think that Duke Reynald (then well over forty) must have been a better and more caring husband than his father-in-law because he made a fourteen-year-old pregnant? What would have been the right time for Edward to begin a sex life with Isabella that wouldn't make him look like either a child-molesting pervert or a callous husband thoughtlessly ignoring his wife to you?
I'm afraid I can't help feeling that what bothers and offends you is not really that you think Edward 'ignored' his wife for four years, but that he so openly and obviously loved a man, and that you think this man was a 'rival' to Isabella for the king's affections, which you find icky. Because when I look at, for example, Edward and Isabella's granddaughter-in-law Constanza of Castile, arriving in England as a king's daughter, also very young (though not as young as Isabella), to marry John of Gaunt, I see a very similar situation: the rightful queen of Castile and duchess of Lancaster arrived in her new country to find her new husband already in an intense, long-term relationship with another person, which continued for Constanza's entire married life and produced children regularly for a few years. Yet I never ever see you weeping and wailing over Constanza's 'neglect' and 'suffering' and the 'insult' and humiliation she endured at her husband's hands; on the contrary, you seem to find her husband's adulterous relationship romantic and fabulous and one of the most amazing love stories ever. But then, of course, John's 'favourite' Katherine Swynford was a woman. You point out that John had only married Constanza for political reasons and couldn't help being in love with someone else, but of course, exactly the same thing applies to Edward II, so why the massive difference in attitude? I also often see you talking about how wonderfully romantic Roger Mortimer and Isabella of France's relationship supposedly was (I'm really not convinced, personally), but you rarely if ever talk about Roger's wife of twenty-five years, Joan Geneville. I see comments from you like "Roger Mortimer fulfilled her [Isabella's] idea of romantic love which was unfulfilled by Edward" and "Isabella was married to a fastidiously gay guy who begat children on her - note not with her - as a painful duty. Roger Mortimer came as a happy thunderbolt into a bleak life", with not a mention of Roger's wife and how she might have suffered emotional pain and humiliation from seeing her husband in a long-term relationship with another woman and being her 'happy thunderbolt'. It looks pretty strange to complain about the bad time you think Isabella had in her marriage being ignored by a husband in love with someone else, and then laud her allegedly passionate and wildly romantic relationship with a man who himself already had a wife and a dozen children. And please note, you don't and can't have the faintest idea whether Edward II enjoyed having intercourse with Isabella or not, so it looks pretty silly to make statements like Edward 'begat children on her, not with her, as a painful duty' as though you have a webcam set up in their bedchamber.
Here's something else I've seen you say:
"Isabella is married off to Edward II at the age of thirteen - and soon discovers that as far as her husband is concerned, she is simply a brood mare for his children. He'd rather spend his time with his lover, Piers Gaveston." (Funny how we never get something like "Joan Geneville is married off to Roger Mortimer at the age of fifteen - and discovers after a quarter of a century of loyal support, a dozen pregnancies and imprisonment on Roger's behalf that as far as her husband is concerned, she is simply a brood mare for his children. He'd rather spend his time with his lover, Isabella of France.")
"I hate how people call Isabella of France homophobic for deposing her husband Edward II. Imagine being used as a broodmare by a gay dude." (My query as to who, precisely, has ever called Isabella 'homophobic' went sadly unanswered. It was in 'some documentary', apparently. I really, really doubt that anyone has ever said anything like this.)
Edward II and Isabella of France had four children, well spaced out: they were born in November 1312, August 1316, June 1318 and July 1321. (Additionally, Isabella may have had a miscarriage in November 1313, when pennyroyal was bought for her.) How exactly does four, perhaps five pregnancies in almost twenty years of marriage equate to being a 'brood mare'? If we're going to use idiotic terms like 'brood mare', why are you applying it to a woman who as far as we know was pregnant no more than four or five times? Surely better candidates would be Eleanor of Castile (fourteen or fifteen children), Philippa of Hainault (twelve children) or Joan Geneville Mortimer (twelve children) - they're somehow not 'brood mares' to you, but a woman with four children is? In which way was Isabella a 'brood mare' more than any other queen or noblewoman? Oh wait, I think I know the answer to that one: is it that you think it's not a problem to be a 'brood mare' if your husband's assumed to be straight?
So on the one hand, you complain that Edward II took too long to consummate his marriage, then you declare that he was only interested in Isabella as a 'brood mare'. If that were the case, why did he delay consummation for so long then? Surely a man who only wants to use his wife as a 'brood mare' would be keen to get going as soon as possible, regardless of her extreme youth? Again, I can't avoid the feeling that what you really object to is that Edward loved men and may have preferred having sex with them to his queen. May. We really don't know that, and we can't know that. Edward may have enjoyed intercourse with Isabella enormously for all we know. As I've pointed out before, they conceived the future Edward III during Lent when intercourse was forbidden, which hardly suggests that Edward slept with his wife unwillingly (Lent gave him the perfect excuse to avoid it if he wanted to). During their visit to France in 1313, they overslept one morning which made Edward arrive late for a meeting with Isabella's father Philip IV, and another night, they were sleeping together naked when their pavilion caught fire and Edward scooped up Isabella in his arms and rushed outside with her, though they were both still naked. Sounds to me like their marital relations were perfectly normal and intimate, and Edward fathered an illegitimate son called Adam so evidently wasn't repulsed by intercourse with women. Please do remember we don't and can't know anything about Edward and Isabella's sex life, except that they had intercourse four (or five) times to produce their children. And please do remember that you don't know anything about Isabella and Roger Mortimer's sex life either, assuming they had one, or about Edward and Piers Gaveston's sex life either, assuming they had one. You don't actually know that Roger fulfilled Isabella sexually and/or romantically in ways which Edward II didn't or couldn't or wouldn't. He might have done, yes, but basically that's only romanticised modern speculation. (And also, you can't possibly know and state as fact that Roger was 'unequivocally heterosexual'.) Alison Weir's book about Isabella also suggests that "intercourse [between Isabella and Edward] must have been infrequent" because of their "widely spaced" children, and that "Edward never visited her bed regularly," even though Isabella was, allegedly, "highly sexed." Haha. The things some people say!
So, Edward humanely waited till Isabella was old enough to bear children without risk, which meant that by the time their eldest child was born he himself was at the fairly advanced age of twenty-eight and, if he'd been able to marry a woman who was around his own age, could well have had an heir a decade or more earlier. Then they had four children with long enough spaces between them to allow Isabella's body to rest and recover, which manages at one and the same time in the eyes of you, his detractors, to be a) proof that he wasn't interested in his poor little wife (even though she was soooo beautiful and every other man on the planet lusted after her!) or in having sex with her, which must have been so terrible for her given her high sex drive, and b) proof that he thought of her as nothing more than a brood mare. Hmmm, curious. So it would have been better if Isabella had borne a child every year then? After all, if you're going to treat someone as a brood mare', you might as well do it properly. It may be, who knows, that Isabella wasn't particularly fertile, or that she had miscarriages we don't know about (it's likely though not certain that she had one in November 1313). Her five-year relationship with Roger Mortimer, which is always nowadays assumed on little evidence to have been certainly sexual, produced no children, unless you count the unproven claim that she was pregnant at the time of their downfall in October 1330. Even if that's true, it had taken her nearly five years (since their relationship began in about late 1325) to become pregnant. Admittedly Isabella was thirty to thirty-five between 1325 and 1330 and perhaps less fertile than she had been when younger, but if her relationship with Roger was the intensely, passionately sexual one her fans nowadays like to think it was, and she was the 'highly sexed' person she's claimed to be, that's still a heck of a long delay.
All kings needed heirs, y'know. Edward II would have been failing in his duty to his kingdom if he hadn't fathered at least one son to succeed him, and so would Isabella. You do know, don't you, that Isabella was a woman who lived in the fourteenth century, who had known since she was two or three years old that it was her destiny to marry the king of England in a political alliance between their countries, and bear his children? You do realise that she wasn't a twenty-first-century woman with modern ideas and attitudes who time-travelled back 700 years? You do realise she'd find your accusations that her husband treated her as a 'brood mare' utterly ludicrous? (I really doubt that Isabella would recognise herself at all in the way many of her modern fans like to write her.) You accuse Edward of treating her as a 'brood mare', but I have a feeling that if for whatever reason he and Isabella had had no children, you'd be weeping and wailing instead at the tragedy of her enforced childlessness, and cursing Edward's vile behaviour and neglect of her and her sexual needs. Her apparently being so 'highly sexed' and all. So what in your opinion would have been the correct number of children for Edward II to have had with Isabella? So that in your mind he'd be neither a neglectful husband not sleeping with his tragic abandoned sexy wife often enough, nor treating her like a brood mare and risking her health by making her pregnant too often? Six? Eight? What?
Finally, one thing I'd dearly love to know: why you so often assume that a man described by fourteenth-century chroniclers as "one of the strongest men in his realm," "a handsome man, of outstanding strength," "tall and strong, a fine figure of a handsome man" and so on, a man who by all evidence was tall, well-built, muscular, enormously strong and a huge fan of the outdoors and exacting physical exercise - why this man must somehow have really been feminine and girly, a cowardly weakling who snivelled, whined, mewled and threw tantrums. Have you seen a fourteenth-century primary source that I've somehow missed, which states that he ever behaved like this? Because I've got to say, if there isn't, these things you say about him look very much like unpleasant prejudices based on what you think his sexual orientation was and stereotypes of how you think gay men are supposed to behave. So please do cite that missing source for me. Because I'd hate to think that you form your opinion of a man who lived 700 years ago on modern attitudes that frankly - sorry to be so harsh but here it is - look bigoted to me.