Joan of Navarre

Joan of Navarre was born around 1370 in Pamplona, Navarre to King Charles II of Navarre and Joan of France. She was one of six children.

John IV, Duke of Brittany married Joan as his third wife on 2 October 1386, a marriage that produced nine children.

Following John IV’s death on 1 November 1399, Joan became guardian of the new Duke of Brittany John V, her son. As John V was still a minor, Joan became regent of Brittany, however this regency could not continue with her marriage to Henry.

Shortly after the loss of her husband, Joan agreed a marriage with Henry IV of England.

When Henry IV, then Henry Bolingbroke had been banished from England in 1398 – 1399, he had stayed at the Breton Court and it is here that he had first met Joan. During this time, they had developed a mutual affection for each other.

Although a marriage had been agreed, Joan stated that she could not marry until her affairs in Brittany were in order, including the regency of her son. Joan knew that she would not be able to take her sons with her to England, so she arranged for the Duke of Burgundy to be the guardian of her sons and the regent of Brittany.

After receiving a papal release to marry in 1402, Joan travelled to England with her daughters, and she and Henry were finally married on 7 February 1403 in Winchester Cathedral, she was then crowned on 26 February of the same year.

Joan and Henry did not have any children together, but Joan did become close to her step-children, including the future Henry V.

Henry IV died in 1413, and Joan’s stepson became Henry V. Joan and Henry continued to have a close relationship, and she was made regent of England while Henry was away fighting in France in 1415.

When Henry returned to England, his relationship with Joan started to deteriorate. Henry had been victorious at the Battle of Agincourt, but had returned with Joan’s son Arthur, who had fought with the French, and imprisoned him. Joan and Henry’s relationship would never be the same.

In 1419 Joan was accused of using witchcraft to poison Henry and this led to her possessions and fortune being confiscated. She was then imprisoned in Pevensey Castle, Sussex where she would live for the next four years.

On his deathbed in 1422, Henry V ordered Joan’s release and the return of her fortune. She lived the rest of her life at Nottingham Castle.

Joan died on 10 June 1437 at Havering-atte-Bower, Essex and is buried in Canterbury Cathedral.

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