Isabella, the Countess of Gloucester was born in 1173, to parents, William Fitz Robert, the 2nd Earl of Gloucester and his wife Hawise de Beaumont. Hawise was the daughter of the Earl of Leicester, which made Isabella, the niece of the Earl of Leicester.
King Henry II sought the wealth of the Earl of Gloucester. In 1176, an agreement was forged between the Earl and King, whereby John would inherit Gloucester’s wealth in return for marrying Isabella, making her a future Queen. Isabella would be the sole heir of the Gloucester estate.
The Earl of Gloucester died in 1183, and John became heir in waiting to the Gloucester estate. In 1189 King Henry II died, and Prince Richard (Richard the Lionheart) was crowned King of England.
On the 29th August 1189, Prince John married Isabella of Gloucester at Marlborough Castle.
Isabella and John’s grandfather was King Henry I, and as such a dispensation was required from the Vatican. Pope Clement III granted a dispensation to marry, but sexual relations were forbidden.
In 1199 King Richard died and Prince John became King John of England. It didn’t take him long, to divorce Isabella on the grounds it was an illegal marriage.
Isabella was divorced from John, but not free of him, for he wanted to keep control over her. He made her his ward, thus maintaining total control of her property.
King John humiliated Isabella, making her chaperone to his new Queen. In a final act of humiliation he sold her like a common slave for 20,000 marks to the Earl of Essex, and they were married on the 20th January 1214.