Isabella Taillefer, Isabella of Angoulême did not go to Bordeaux at all in her lifetime. Her second husband Hugh Lusignan tried to capture the city in 1226 but failed even though he was given knights and money by the French king to wrest the place to France, away from any allegiance to England. And while he attempted that he was fighting Richard of Cornwall, Isabella’s second son by King John, Hugh’s step son. But Richard ambushed him and drove him back to the Poitou.
But Isabella in book form went to Bordeaux this June. Bradley’s Bookshop hosted an event and I talked about how I came to discover Isabella and write the to-be trilogy.
One question was about how much fact and how much fiction is there in the books. This is an endless topic for those who write historical fiction. One reader had called the first book a historical fictional biography and I do think I am setting up the background in that novel. The worry was always that King John would hijack the book so I wanted to get her story down and out there before he did! In book 2 I am able to tell the story more, to imagine a richer and deeper interior life for her. Another question was about how she turned her back on her children in England and that is a difficult one to answer. Many widowed queens became regents but not Isabella, many went to live in convents or found religious orders, but not Isabella.
She wanted a new life and was determined to have one. So she came back to France. It is not a good idea to use 21st psychology on 13th century life but it is very possible that her English children did feel abandoned, especially Henry III. How he deals with that and how she responds is very much part of Book 2 and 3.