Also known as Ingelram de Coucy, was a 14th-century French nobleman, the last Sieur de Coucy, and the son-in-law of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault. Following his marriage to Edward's daughter Isabella de Coucy (1332–1382), Coucy also held the English title of 1st Earl of Bedford, among other English estates granted to the couple by Edward III. Because his life is well-chronicled, and he occupies a pivotal role in late medieval history, notably in the conflict between England and France, historian Barbara Tuchman makes him the main character in A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century.
Coucy became the Sieur de Coucy at the death of his father, Enguerrand VI during the sequence of battles ending with the Battle of Crécy in 1346. He also gained the titles of 4th Lord Gynes: Sire d' Oisy, in the district of Marle and the Sire de La Fère. His mother, Catherine of Austria, died in 1349 during a wave of the Black Death. Coucy first became involved in the war against England at the age of fifteen, serving among the barons of Picardy in the battalion of Moreau de Fiennes, a future Marshal of France. In 1358, at the age of eighteen, Coucy acted as a leader during the suppression of the peasant revolt known as the Jacquerie.
Prisoner in England
Young Coucy first met Edward III of England in 1359 as one of forty royal and noble hostages exchanged for the future release of the captured King John II of France. He was retained as a hostage in 1360, when the Treaty of Bretigny established territorial adjustments between the two countries and set the monetary payments for King John's release. The hostages finally arrived in England in November 1360. Coucy was to spend the next five years as a guest of the royal court. Chronicler Jean Froissart records that "...the young lord de Coucy shined in dancing and caroling whenever it was his turn. He was in great favor with both the French and English..."
In 1365, the wealthy Coucy was betrothed and married to the 33-year-old Isabella of England, who has been described as an over-indulged, willful, and wildly extravagant princess. To care for her personal needs, her father settled a substantial annual income on her for life, as well as gifts of costly jewelry, and properties that included manors, castles, and priories. Coucy was her choice as a husband, as she wished to marry for love after the failure of previous betrothal negotiations with several noble houses of Europe. Coucy received, as part of the marriage settlement, the restoration of former Coucy lands in Yorkshire, Lancaster, Westmorland and Cumberland, England. He was also released as a hostage for the French treaty requirements, with no payment of ransom. In November 1365, after their marriage on 27 July, the couple was given leave to travel to France.
Crusader Campaigns & Death
In the autumn of 1375 Coucy engaged a number of Free Companies, including one led by Owain Lawgoch, to seize some Habsburg lands which he claimed through his mother. However, in the resulting Gugler War Coucy's troops were attacked when passing through Switzerland, and after a number of reverses the expedition had to be abandoned.
In 1380, after the death of Isabella of England, Coucy married Isabelle, daughter of John I, Duke of Lorraine and Sophie von Württemberg; they had one daughter, Isabel de Coucy (date of birth unknown; died 1411).
The 1390 siege of Mahdia saw Coucy as a participant. Coucy died at age 56, on 18 February 1397, at Bursa, Anatolia, Turkey while participating in the last medieval crusade. He fought in the Battle of Nicopolis on 28 September 1396, where he was taken prisoner. His death was due to an outbreak of the bubonic plague among the Turks. His body was returned to Europe and he was buried at Abbey of Villeneuve, near Soissons, France.
Coucy inherited the most awesome fortress in Europe at the death of his father, Enguerrand VI in 1346. The castle is known as the Château de Coucy and is considered a spectacular architectural achievement for its time. Coucy was responsible for the maintenance of the castle and additional construction on his familial estates, which consisted of the fortress, 150 towns and villages, famous forests and ponds, along with significant revenue. The estate was centered in the commune of Coucy Le Château Auffrique, in the modern Department of Aisne, France.
Enguerrand in Fiction
The courtship of Coucy and his first wife comprises a large portion of the plot of The Lady Royal, a novel by Molly Costain Haycraft. A fictionalized account of the life of Princess Isabella of England, it paints an extremely romantic portrait of the couple. Coucy and his first wife Isabella of England are supporting characters in the historical fiction novel The First Princess of Wales, by Karen Harper.
|Offspring of Enguerrand VII de Coucy and Isabella of England (1332-1382)|
|Marie de Coucy (1366-1404)||April 1366 Coucy Castle, Picardy, France||1404 France|| Henri de Bar (1362-1397)|
|Philppa de Coucy (1367-1411)|
|Offspring of Enguerrand VII de Coucy and Isabelle de Lorraine (c1366-c1410)|
|Isabelle de Coucy (-1411)|
- Enguerrand VII on Wikipedia
- Tuchman, Barbara W. (1978). A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. ISBN 0-394-40026-7.