Philippa of Hainaut was born on 24 June 1314 in Valenciennes, Hainaut in northern France. She was the daughter of William I, Count of Hainaut and Joan of Valois.
She spent her early years in Hainaut and enjoyed learning and received a good education.
King Edward II believed an alliance with Flanders would benefit him, so he sent Bishop Stapledon of Exeter as ambassador to Hainaut to arrange a marriage between his son Edward and Hainaut’s daughter Philippa, therefore establishing the alliance.
Edward and Philippa were betrothed four years later.
Philippa arrived in England in December 1327 and her and Edward III were married on 24 January 1328 at York Minster, less than a year after Edward’s accession to the throne of England, however Philippa was not crowned queen until two years later on 4 March 1330 at Westminster Abbey, when six months pregnant with their first child, a son Edward. The couple would go on to have thirteen further children.
Prior to 1330, Edward, due to his young age had been king in name only. His mother Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer were acting as de-facto rulers.
In October 1330 Edward staged a coup and deposed his mother and Mortimer. He had Mortimer executed and sent his mother to live at Castle Rising in Norfolk for the remainder of her life.
Many foreign queens before Philippa had alienated the English people, but Philippa was popular with the people and thought of as kind, compassionate and courteous. She is also thought to have had a calming influence on her husband.
Philippa joined her husband on many of his expeditions to Scotland, and to France during the Hundred Years War. She also acted as regent of England in 1346.
She is remembered for successfully persuading her husband Edward to spare the lives of the Burghers of Calais, citizens who surrendered after the Siege of Calais, that expected to be executed. It was the intervention of Philippa that spared their lives.
Philippa died on 15 August 1369 in Windsor Castle; her state funeral took place six months later on 29 January 1370.
Her body is buried at Westminster Abbey. Her husband Edward III died eight years later and was buried next to her.