The 14th century document was drawn up for the union of Philippa of Hainault and Prince Edward, whose mother Isabella of France was bent on the deposition of her husband Edward II.
Offered at the London auction house’s sale of fine books, manuscripts, atlases and historical photographs on March 27, it was knocked down at mid estimate, making it the top lot of the sale.
The document, prepared in 1326, secured the dowry that enabled Isabella to set in motion the invasion of England and the replacement of her husband the king with their son, the future Edward III. It lays out the prince’s duty to marry Philippa within two years, to assign dower and obtain a papal dispensation for the marriage – and to pay her father £10,000 if the contract is violated.
These terms are written in 27 lines on one skin of vellum, which was offered with a large fragment in white wax of the seal of Prince Edward and presented in an elaborate green morocco modern fitted case.
Isabella had married Edward in 1302 but the marriage was famously turbulent, troubled by the king’s infidelity and rumoured homosexuality. After brokering her son’s marriage deal, she sailed back to England, denounced her husband’s favourite of the time and had him gruesomely executed. Parliament informed Edward that he would no longer reign, and he was murdered while imprisoned in Berkeley Castle.