Background[ edit ] Queen Isabella of England first reported the rumours of adultery by her sisters-in-law to her father in Paris The royal scandal occurred at the end of the difficult reign of Philip IV, known as "le Bel" the Fair because of his good looks. Philip IV was a strangely unemotional man; the contemporary bishop of Pamiers described him as "neither a man nor a beast, but a statue";  modern historians have noted that he "cultivated a reputation for Christian kingship and showed few weaknesses of the flesh.
By , however, he was financially overstretched and in an increasingly difficult domestic political situation, and some have suggested that his weakened position contributed to the subsequent royal crisis. As was customary for the period, all three were married with an eye for political gain. His youngest son Charles married Blanche , another of Otto's daughters, in Louis' is considered to have been an unhappy match; Louis, known as "the Quarreler" and "the Headstrong", is said to have preferred playing real tennis to spending time with the "feisty and shapely" Margaret.
Philip, in contrast, became noted for his unusual generosity to his wife Joan;  the pair had a considerable number of children in a short space of time and Philip wrote numerous, if formulaic, love letters to his wife over the years. Isabella's marriage proved difficult, largely due to Edward's intimate relationship with his close friend and possible lover, Piers Gaveston.
Isabella looked frequently to her father for help addressing the problems in her English marriage. During the visit, Louis and Charles had had a satirical puppet show put on for their guests, and after this Isabella had given new embroidered purses both to her brothers and to their wives.
The accusations centred on suggestions that Blanche and Margaret had been drinking, eating and engaging in adultery with Gautier and Philippe d'Aunay in the Tour de Nesle over a period. Most historians have tended to conclude that the accusations against Blanche and Margaret were probably true, although some are more skeptical.
There are some suggestions that Gautier and Philippe d'Aunay attempted to escape to England but in due course both knights were interrogated and tortured by French officials.
The two women had their heads shaven and were sentenced to life imprisonment. Impact[ edit ] The Tour de Nesle scandal led to the imprisonment of Blanche and Margaret, and the execution of their lovers.
Louis remarried five days later to Clementia of Hungary , the niece of Louis' own uncle and close advisor, Charles of Valois. Louis himself died a year later after falling ill following a challenging game of tennis. It is unclear why Philip stood by her in the way that he did.
One theory has been that he was concerned that if he was to abandon Joan, he might also lose Burgundy , which he had gained through their marriage; another theory suggests that he was in truth very deeply in love with her. Upon becoming king, Charles still refused to release Blanche, instead annulling their marriage and having Blanche consigned to a nunnery. The interpretation of the Salic Law then placed the French succession in doubt.
Scholars studying the theme of courtly love have observed that the narratives about adulterous queens die out shortly after the Tour de Nesle scandal, suggesting that they became less acceptable or entertaining after the executions and imprisonments in the French royal family.