• A London Student

Joan of England

Updated: Nov 15, 2020

Now, before anyone gets confused with which Joan of England I am talking about, it's all of them... Although many of them were called Joan of [insert place they were born], they were all daughters of the King of England.. All of them had very interesting lives, but many of them were unfortunately not very happy or tragically died young.


Joan of England (Queen of Sicily, Countess of Toulouse)

Joan was the second youngest child of Alienor of Aquitaine and Henry II, and grew up in her early years in the peace of Fontrevault Abbey and her mother's court in Potiers with her younger brother John. Her parents' marriage was breaking down. After Alienor was imprisoned, she joined her fathers court and was allowed to see her mother before she left to marry William the Good, King of Sicily in 1176, when she was just ten. After William the Good died without an heir, Joan was imprisoned by William's illegitimate cousin Tancred in 1189. However, luckily for her, her brother Richard I had got Crusading fever, and in 1190, she was freed by him on his way to the Holy Land. Joan then accompanied Berengaria, Richard's wife, to the Holy Land, where she was now a valuable marriage prize, as the sister of one of the most feared rulers in Europe (Richard tried to marry her to the King of Jerusalem but she said no!). Despite this, Joan remained unmarried at her mothers and brothers court for the next couple of years. Then, she did get married. The Groom; Count Raymond VI of Toulouse. They got married in 1196, and in about 1198, Joan gave birth to a son who would succeed his father as count of Toulouse. However, while Raymond was absent, Joan laid siege to a rebel stronghold in his name, but her troops betrayed her, setting fire to the camp, and her tent where she may have been injured. She fled to her brother, who she then found out had just died, then to her mother, who sent her to Fontrevault. She was pregnant, injured and alone. Knowing she was dying, Joan wanted to become a nun, and was allowed to on special grounds. She died shortly after the ceremony, and her infant son, born minutes after she died, lived only long enough to be baptised. They were buried together at Fontrevault. Joan was only thirty-three.


Joan FitzJohn (Lady of Wales)

Now some of you may disagree that Joan FitzJohn should not be in here, as she was the illegitimate daughter of King John, whereas all the other Joans were full daughter, but as one of my favourite people in history, I have decided that she definitely counts.

As I have said, Joan was the daughter of King John and a woman referenced as 'Queen Clemencia' who could be a range of people, although I would guess that it was Clemence le Boteler (for more info, see my post on Joan, Lady of Wales). In her mid-teen, Joan married Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Gwynedd, with whom she appears to have had a happy life. They had one son (Dafydd) and up to five daughters together, and had a strong enough bond to overcome turmoil of their later years. Another problem that Joan faced was that she was always stuck in the middle of the Anglo-Welsh Wars, as her husband fought her dad, and so often ended up as a peacekeeper. The next big event in her life (except her daughters getting married to various Marcher Lords) was in 1230, when William de Braose was found in her bedchamber. He was hung by Llywelyn the next day, and she was imprisoned, under house arrest for about a year, until she was miraculously forgiven and taken back by Llywleyn. This was very rare, and shows the strength in their relationship (and caused more of a scandal in the first place). Joan died in 1237, aged less than fifty, and Llywelyn was very bereft. She was buried in Llanfaes.


Joan of England (Queen Consort of Scotland)

A half-sister to Joan, Lady of Wales, Joan was the daughter of Isabelle of Angouleme and King John, who would marry Alexander of Scotland (although she was originally betrothed to Hugh de Lusignan as a four-year-old, but on her father's death in 1216, her mother, Isabelle, married Hugh instead!). Alexander and Joan were married in 1221, after difficult negotiations, when he was 22, and she, less than 11. Joan did not have a good time in Scotland: the estates which should have been hers were still owned by her mother-in-law, so she was dependant on her husband completely. Matters did not improve either when she failed to produce an heir. There was ongoing conflict between Alexander and Henry III, Joan's brother, as well when the estates on Joan's dower were not given to her in the 1230's. In 1237, when Joan was in England for a council, she met up with her family again, seeing her sister Eleanor (who would marry Simon de Montfort), Eleanor of Brittany and her cousin, the Countess of Chester. In January, she was summoned back by her husband, but refused to go. That same month, she sickened and died in Essex, aged just twenty-seven. She chose to be buried in England.


Joan of Acre (Born in the Holy Land while her parents were on crusade)

Joan was one of the many children of Edward I and Eleanor of Castile, but one of the six to survive to adulthood. Born in Acre, she returned to Europe and stayed with her grand-mother Eleanor in Ponthieu where she would spend the next few years, before staying in England and travelling with her parents off and on. In 1290, Joan married Gilbert de Clare, the Earl of Gloucester, one of the most powerful noblemen in England. She was eighteen to his forty-six. They were married for five years before Gilbert's death and had a son and three daughter (two of whom would be married to Edward II's favourites at Court, Piers Gaveston and Hugh le Despenser). Edward I quickly tried to arrange another marriage for young Joan after she was widowed, and betrothed her to Amadeus V, Count of Savoy. Joan, however did not agree, and sent one of the squires in her household to be knighted by Edward. She then secretly married this young knight. Edward was not impressed. The Knight, called Ralph de Monthermer, was imprisoned, but Edward eventually softened, and released him. Ralph became Earl of Gloucester in right of his wife, and they had two boys, two girls together in ten years of marriage. Joan died in Suffolk unexpectedly aged just thirty-five in 1307.


Joan of the Tower (Another Queen Consort of Scotland)

This Joan was the youngest child of Isabella of France and Edward II of England, and was born into a changing world. Also known as Joan Makepeace, she married the son and heir of Robert the Bruce, David as part of the treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton, when she was just six, and him, four in 1328. After the death of Robert the Bruce a year after the wedding, David became King and was crowned alongside Joan in 1331. From here things went downhill for Joan; after defeat at the battle of Halidon Hill doing the Second Scottish War of Independence, she and David fled to France. They stayed in Château Gaillard in Normandy until 1341, when they were finally able to return. This didn't last long either. In 1346, David was captured, and imprisoned in the Tower and then at Odiham Castle. In 1357, he was released, (for a large ransom) and returned to Scotland. However, after David's return, Joan decided to stay in England where she nursed her mother, Isabella during her final illness in 1358, and died herself in 1362 of the Plague, and was buried in Greyfriars.


Joan of England

One of Edward III and Philippa of Hainault's four surviving daughters, Joan was also born in the Tower of London in around 1333, and was reputed as openly being Edward III's favourite daughter. Joan grew up at first with her mother, but aged four, was betrothed to Fredrick, the heir of the Duke of Austria, and travelled to grow up in the court of her father-in-law. She was put under care of her Aunt, who was the Holy Roman Empress - and a disaster at bringing up children. Joan's mother became so concerned about her upbringing that Joan went home. In England, she grew up with her sister, Isabel with whom she was very close to. In 1347, preparations were made for a second betrothal, to Peter, the heir of the King of Castile for November the next year. In January 1348, she left England and started to travel to Bordeaux. She would never get further than Loremo where she caught the plague and died. Joan was just 14.


So those are the Joans... More information will be coming in future weeks about the individual ones. For more information on Joan, Lady of Wales, see my post on it.

Images courtesy of Wikipedia Sources include:

Heroines of the Medieval World by Sharon Bennett Connolly



Queens Consort by Lisa Hilton

Thank you for reading!