Joan of Navarre, Queen of England

Joan of Navarre
Duchess consort of Brittany
Tenure 2 October 1386 – 1 November 1399
Queen consort of England
Consort 7 February 1403 – 20 March 1413
Coronation 26 February 1403
Born c.1370
Pamplona, Navarre
Died (1437-06-10)10 June 1437 (aged c. 66–67)
Havering-atte-Bower, London
Burial 11 August 1437
Canterbury Cathedral, Kent
John IV, Duke of Brittany
(m. 1386; d. 1399)

Henry IV of England
(m. 1403; d. 1413)
among others
John V, Duke of Brittany
Marie, Duchess of Alençon
Margaret, Viscountess of Rohan
Arthur III, Duke of Brittany
Gilles, Lord of Chantocé and Ingrande
Richard, Count of Benon, Étampes and Marles
Blanche, Countess of Armagnac
House Évreux
Father Charles II of Navarre
Mother Joan of Valois

Joan of Navarre, also known as Joanna (c.1370 – 10 June 1437) was Duchess of Brittany by marriage to Duke John IV, and later Queen of England by marriage to King Henry IV. She served as regent of Brittany from 1399 until 1403 during the minority of her son. She also served as regent of England during the absence of her stepson in 1415.[1]


She was a daughter of King Charles II of Navarre and Joan of France.[2]

Duchess consort of Brittany

On 2 October 1386, Joan married her first husband, John IV, Duke of Brittany (known in traditional English sources as John V).[3] She was his third wife and the only one to bear him children.

Upon the death of John IV on 1 November 1399, he was succeeded by their son, John V. Her son being still a minor, she was made his guardian and the regent of Brittany during his minority. Not long after, she was given a proposal by Henry IV. The marriage proposal was given out of mutual personal preference rather than a dynastic marriage. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, affection developed between Joan and Henry Bolingbroke (the future King Henry IV) while he resided at the Breton court during his banishment from England. Joan gave a favorable reply to the proposal, but stated that she could not go through with it until she had set the affairs of Brittany in order and arrange for the security of the duchy and her children.[1]

She knew that it would not be possible for her to continue as regent of Brittany after having married the king of England, nor would she be able to take her sons with her to England. A papal dispensation was necessary for the marriage, which was obtained in 1402.[1]

Joan negotiated with the Duke of Burgundy to make him guardian of her male children and regent of Brittany. Finally, she surrendered the custody of her sons and her power as regent of Brittany to the duke of Burgundy, who swore to respect the Breton rights and law, and departed for England with her daughters.[1]

Queen consort of England

On 7 February 1403, Joan married Henry IV at Winchester Cathedral. The 26th, she held her formal entry to London, where she was crowned queen of England. Queen Joan was described as beautiful, gracious and majestic, but also as greedy and stingy, and was accused of accepting bribes. Reportedly, she did not have a good impression of England, as a Breton ship was attacked outside the English coast just after her wedding. She preferred the company of her Breton entourage, which caused offence to such a degree that her Breton courtiers were exiled by order of Parliament, a ban the king did not think he could oppose given his sensitive relation to the Parliament at the time.[1]

Joan and Henry had no children, but she is recorded as having had a good relationship with Henry's children from his first marriage, often taking the side of the future Henry V, in his quarrels with his father. Her daughters returned to France three years after their arrival on the order of their brother, her son.

In 1413, her second spouse died, succeeded by her stepson Henry V. Joan had a very good relationship with Henry, who even entrusted her with regency during his absence in France in 1415. Upon his return, however, he brought her son Arthur of Brittany with him as a prisoner. Joan unsuccessfully tried to have him released.[1] This apparently damaged her relationship with Henry. In 1419, she was accused of having hired two magicians to use witchcraft to poison the King. Her large fortune was confiscated, and she was imprisoned in Pevensey Castle in Sussex, England. She was released upon the order of Henry V on his deathbed in 1422.

After her release, her fortune was returned to her, and she lived the rest of her life quietly and comfortably with her own court at Nottingham Castle, through Henry V's reign and into that of his son, Henry VI. She died at Havering-atte-Bower in Essex, and was buried in Canterbury Cathedral next to Henry IV.





    1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Strickland, Agnes. Lives Of The Queens Of England From The Norman Conquest. — L.: Bell and Daldy, 1864. — Т. I (I/VI). — P. 455—496.
    2. Leese, Thelma Anna (2007). Blood Royal: Issue of the Kings and Queens of Medieval England, 1066–1399. Heritage Books Inc. p. 219.
    3. Jones, Michael (1988). The Creation of Brittany. London: Hambledon Press. p. 123. ISBN 090762880X.
    4. Boutell, Charles (1863). A Manual of Heraldry, Historical and Popular. London: Winsor & Newton. p. 276.
    French nobility
    Title last held by
    Joan Holland
    Duchess consort of Brittany
    2 October 1386 – 1 November 1399
    Succeeded by
    Joan of Valois
    English royalty
    Title last held by
    Isabella of Valois
    Queen consort of England
    Lady of Ireland

    7 February 1403 – 20 March 1413
    Title next held by
    Catherine of Valois
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