Catherine of Valois

Last updated

Catherine of Valois
Marriage of henry and Catherine.jpg
Marriage of King Henry V of England and Catherine of Valois. Illumination, Jean Chartier, Chronicle of Charles VII, av. 1494, British Library, Royal E.V., f. 9v.
Queen consort of England
Tenure2 June 1420 – 31 August 1422
Coronation 23 February 1421
Born27 October 1401
Paris, France
Died3 January 1437 (aged 35)
London, England
Burial
Spouse
Issue
among others
House Valois
Father Charles VI of France
Mother Isabella of Bavaria
Religion Roman Catholicism

Catherine of Valois (27 October 1401 – 3 January 1437) was the queen consort of England from 1420 until 1422. A daughter of Charles VI of France, she married Henry V of England, [1] and gave birth to his heir Henry VI of England. Her liaison (and possible secret marriage) with Owen Tudor proved the springboard of that family's fortunes, eventually leading to their grandson's elevation as Henry VII of England. [2] Catherine's older sister Isabella was queen of England from 1396 until 1399, as the child bride of Richard II.

Contents

Early life

Catherine of Valois was the youngest daughter of King Charles VI of France and his wife Isabeau of Bavaria. [3] She was born at the Hôtel Saint-Pol (a royal palace in Paris) on 27 October 1401. Early on, there had been a discussion of marrying her to the prince of Wales, the son of Henry IV of England, but the king died before negotiations could begin. In 1414, the prince, now Henry V, re-opened discussion of the match, along with a large dowry and acknowledgement of his right to the throne of France.

While some authors have maintained that Catherine was neglected as a child by her mother, a more modern examination of the evidence suggests otherwise. According to the financial accounts of her mother, toys befitting a French princess were purchased, religious texts were provided, and Catherine was sent to the convent in Poissy to receive a religious education. [4]

Royal marriage

Henry V went to war with France, and even after the great English victory at Agincourt, plans for the marriage continued. Catherine was said to be very attractive and when Henry finally met her at Meulan, he became enamoured. In May 1420, a peace agreement was made between England and France, the Treaty of Troyes, and Charles acknowledged Henry of England as his heir. Catherine and Henry were married at the Parish Church of St John or at Troyes Cathedral on 2 June 1420. Catherine went to England with her new husband and was crowned queen in Westminster Abbey on 23 February 1421. In June 1421, Henry returned to France to continue his military campaigns.

By this time, Catherine was several months pregnant and gave birth to a son named Henry on 6 December 1421 at Windsor. Her husband never saw their child. During the siege of Meaux, he became sick and died on 31 August 1422, just before his 36th birthday. [5] Catherine was not quite 21 and was left a queen dowager. Charles VI died a couple of months after Henry V, making the young Henry VI king of England and English-occupied northern France. Catherine doted on her son during his early childhood.

Relationship with Owen Tudor

Catherine was still young and marriageable, a source of concern to her brother-in-law Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, the guardian of her son. Rumours abounded that Catherine planned to marry Edmund Beaufort, Count of Mortain, her late husband's cousin. The Duke of Gloucester was strongly against the match, however, and the Parliament of 1427–8 passed a bill which set forth the provision that if the queen dowager remarried without the king's consent, her husband would forfeit his lands and possessions, although any children of the marriage would not suffer punishment. The king's consent was contingent upon his having attained his majority. At that time, the king was only six years old.

Catherine lived in the king's household, presumably so she could care for her young son, but the arrangement also enabled the councillors to watch over the queen dowager herself. Nevertheless, Catherine entered into a sexual relationship with Welshman Owen ap Maredudd ap Tudor, who, in 1421, in France, had been in the service of Henry V's steward Sir Walter Hungerford. Tudor was probably appointed keeper of Catherine's household or wardrobe. The relationship began when Catherine lived at Windsor Castle, and she became pregnant with their first child there. At some point, she stopped living in the King's household and in May 1432 Parliament granted Owen the rights of an Englishman. This was important because of Henry IV's laws limiting the rights of Welshmen.

Catherine of Valois's arms as queen consort. Arms of Catherine of Valois.svg
Catherine of Valois's arms as queen consort.

There is no known date of Catherine's marriage to Owen, [6] and yet there is no contemporaneous evidence that the validity of the marriage and the legitimacy of her children were questioned in secular or canon law. [7] From the relationship of Owen Tudor and Queen Catherine descended the Tudor dynasty of England, starting with King Henry VII. Tudor historians asserted that Owen and Catherine had been married, for their lawful marriage would add respectability and stronger royal ties to the claims of the Tudor dynasty.

Owen and Catherine had at least six children. Edmund, Jasper and Owen were all born away from court. They had one daughter, Margaret, who became a nun and died young.

Death and aftermath

Catherine died on 3 January 1437, shortly after childbirth, in London, and was "buried in the old Lady chapel" of Westminster Abbey. [8] While the death date is not in question the cause is, with an equal number of records stating that she did not die a result of childbirth, but entered Bermondsey Abbey, possibly seeking a cure for an illness that had troubled her for some time. She made her will just three days before her death. She now rests at Westminster Abbey in Henry V's Chantry Chapel. After her death, Catherine's enemies decided to proceed against Owen for violating the law of the remarriage of the queen dowager. Owen appeared before the Council, was subsequently arrested, and taken to Newgate Prison. [9] He tried to escape from Newgate Prison in early 1438 and eventually ended up at Windsor Castle in July of that year. [9]

Meanwhile, Owen and Catherine's two older sons, Edmund and Jasper, went to live with Katherine de la Pole, Abbess of Barking and sister of William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk. Sometime after 1442, the king (their half-brother) took a role in their upbringing. Owen, their father, was eventually released on £2000 bail, but was pardoned in November 1439 (and the bail cancelled in 1440). Owen was treated well afterwards and was a member of the king's household until the mid-1450s. He lived until 1461, when he was executed by the Yorkists following the Battle of Mortimer's Cross in Herefordshire. Their sons were given earldoms by Catherine's son King Henry VI. Edmund married Margaret Beaufort, a descendant of John of Gaunt who had consequently a distant claim to the throne; following the elimination by war of most other candidates, their son became King Henry VII.

The wooden funeral effigy which was carried at Catherine's funeral still survives at Westminster Abbey, and was previously on display in the Westminster Abbey Museum in the Undercroft. It is now displayed in the new Queen's Diamond Jubilee Gallery in the abbey triforium. Her tomb originally boasted an alabaster memorial, which was deliberately destroyed during extensions to the abbey in the reign of her grandson, Henry VII. It has been suggested that Henry ordered her memorial to be removed to distance himself from his illegitimate ancestry. At this time, her coffin lid was accidentally raised, revealing her corpse, which for generations became a tourist attraction. In 1669 the diarist Samuel Pepys kissed the long-deceased queen on his birthday:

On Shrove Tuesday 1669, I to the Abbey went, and by favour did see the body of Queen Catherine of Valois, and had the upper part of the body in my hands, and I did kiss her mouth, reflecting upon it I did kiss a Queen: and this my birthday and I thirty-six years old and I did kiss a Queen.

Samuel Pepys

Catherine's remains were not properly re-interred until the reign of Queen Victoria.

In historical fiction

Related Research Articles

Henry VII of England King of England, 1485–1509

Henry VII was the King of England and Lord of Ireland from his seizure of the crown on 22 August 1485 to his death. He was the first monarch of the House of Tudor.

House of Tudor English royal house of Welsh origin

The House of Tudor was an English royal house of Welsh origin, descended from the Tudors of Penmynydd. Tudor monarchs ruled the Kingdom of England and its realms, including their ancestral Wales and the Lordship of Ireland from 1485 until 1603, with five monarchs in that period: Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I. The Tudors succeeded the House of Plantagenet as rulers of the Kingdom of England, and were succeeded by the House of Stuart. The first Tudor monarch, Henry VII of England, descended through his mother from a legitimised branch of the English royal House of Lancaster. The Tudor family rose to power in the wake of the Wars of the Roses (1455–1487), which left the House of Lancaster, with which the Tudors were aligned, extinct in the male line.

Henry V of England 15th-century King of England and Duke of Aquitaine

Henry V, also called Henry of Monmouth, was King of England from 1413 until his death in 1422. Despite his relatively short reign, Henry's outstanding military successes in the Hundred Years' War against France made England one of the strongest military powers in Europe. Immortalised in Shakespeare's "Henriad" plays, Henry is known and celebrated as one of the greatest warrior kings of medieval England.

Henry VI of England 15th-century King of England and Duke of Aquitaine

Henry VI was King of England from 1422 to 1461 and again from 1470 to 1471, and disputed King of France from 1422 to 1453. The only child of Henry V, he succeeded to the English throne at the age of nine months upon his father's death, and succeeded to the French throne on the death of his maternal grandfather, Charles VI, shortly afterwards.

Elizabeth of York Queen consort of England

Elizabeth of York was the first queen consort of England of the Tudor dynasty from 18 January 1486 until her death, as the wife of Henry VII. She married Henry in 1486 after his victory at the Battle of Bosworth Field, which marked the end of the Wars of the Roses. Together, Elizabeth and Henry had seven, possibly eight, children.

Katherine Swynford Duchess of Lancaster

Katherine Swynford, Duchess of Lancaster, also spelled Katharine or Catherine, was the third wife of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, a son of King Edward III. She had been the Duke's lover for many years before their marriage. The couple's children, born before the marriage, were later legitimised during the reign of the Duke's nephew, Richard II. When the Duke's son from his first marriage overthrew Richard, becoming Henry IV, he introduced a provision that neither they nor their descendants could ever claim the throne of England, however, the legitimacy for all rights was a parliamentary statute that Henry IV lacked the authority to amend.

Henry II of France 16th-century King of France

Henry II was King of France from 31 March 1547 until his death in 1559. The second son of Francis I, he became Dauphin of France upon the death of his elder brother Francis III, Duke of Brittany, in 1536.

Charles VI of France 14th/15th-century French king

Charles VI, called the Beloved and the Mad, was King of France for 42 years, from 1380 until his death.

House of Lancaster English noble family

The House of Lancaster was the name of two cadet branches of the royal House of Plantagenet. The first house was created when King Henry III of England created the Earldom of Lancaster—from which the house was named—for his second son Edmund Crouchback in 1267. Edmund had already been created Earl of Leicester in 1265 and was granted the lands and privileges of Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, after de Montfort's death and attainder at the end of the Second Barons' War. When Edmund's son Thomas, 2nd Earl of Lancaster, inherited his father-in-law's estates and title of Earl of Lincoln he became at a stroke the most powerful nobleman in England, with lands throughout the kingdom and the ability to raise vast private armies to wield power at national and local levels. This brought him—and Henry, his younger brother—into conflict with their cousin Edward II of England, leading to Thomas's execution. Henry inherited Thomas's titles and he and his son, who was also called Henry, gave loyal service to Edward's son—Edward III of England.

Jasper Tudor English duke

Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford, Earl of Pembroke, also called Jasper of Hatfield was the uncle of King Henry VII of England and a leading architect of his nephew's successful accession to the throne in 1485. He was from the noble Tudor family of Penmynydd in North Wales.

Owen Tudor Welsh noble

Sir Owen Tudor was a Welsh courtier and the second husband of Catherine of Valois (1401–1437), widow of King Henry V of England. He was the grandfather of Henry VII, founder of the Tudor dynasty. Owen was a descendant of a prominent family from Penmynydd on the Isle of Anglesey, which traces its lineage back to Ednyfed Fychan, a Welsh official and seneschal to the Kingdom of Gwynedd. Tudor's grandfather, Tudur ap Goronwy, married Margaret, daughter of Thomas ap Llywelyn ab Owain of Cardiganshire, the last male of the princely house of Deheubarth. Margaret's elder sister married Gruffudd Fychan of Glyndyfrdwy, whose son was Owain Glyndŵr. Owen's father, Maredudd ap Tudur, and his uncles were prominent in Owain Glyndŵr's revolt against English rule, the Glyndŵr Rising.

Arthur, Prince of Wales Prince of Wales

Arthur Tudor was Prince of Wales, Earl of Chester and Duke of Cornwall. As the eldest son and heir apparent of Henry VII of England, Arthur was viewed by contemporaries as the great hope of the newly established House of Tudor. His mother, Elizabeth of York, was the daughter of Edward IV, and his birth cemented the union between the House of Tudor and the House of York.

Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond, was the father of King Henry VII of England and a member of the Tudor family of Penmynydd, North Wales. Born to Owen Tudor and the dowager queen Catherine of Valois, Edmund was half-brother to Henry VI of England. Edmund was raised for several years by Katherine de la Pole and Henry took an interest in Edmund's upbringing, granting him a title and lands once he came of age. Both Edmund and his brother, Jasper, were made advisers to the King, as they were his remaining blood relatives.

Isabella of France was Queen of England as the second spouse of Richard II. She married the king at the age of six and was widowed three years later. She later married Charles, Duke of Orléans, dying in childbirth at the age of nineteen.

Henry Stafford, 1st Earl of Wiltshire English Earl

Henry Stafford, 1st Earl of Wiltshire was an English peer.

Francis II, Duke of Brittany Duke of Brittany

Francis II of Brittany was Duke of Brittany from 1458 to his death. He was the grandson of John IV, Duke of Brittany. A recurring theme in Francis' life would be his quest to maintain the quasi-independence of Brittany from France. As such, his reign was characterized by conflicts with King Louis XI of France and with his daughter, Anne of France, who served as regent during the minority of her brother, King Charles VIII. The armed and unarmed conflicts between 1484–1488 have been called the Mad War and also the "War of the Public Weal".

Elisabeth of Valois Queen consort of Spain

Elisabeth of Valois was a Spanish queen consort as the third spouse of Philip II of Spain. She was the eldest daughter of Henry II of France and Catherine de' Medici.

House of Plantagenet Royal dynasty in medieval England

The House of Plantagenet was a royal house which originated from the lands of Anjou in France. The name Plantagenet is used by modern historians to identify four distinct royal houses: the Angevins, who were also counts of Anjou; the main body of the Plantagenets following the loss of Anjou; and the Plantagenets' two cadet branches, the houses of Lancaster and York. The family held the English throne from 1154, with the accession of Henry II, until 1485, when Richard III died in battle.

This article is about the particular significance of the century 1401–1500 to Wales and its people.

Maredudd ap Tudur was a Welsh soldier and nobleman from the Tudor family of Penmynydd. He was one of five sons of Tudur ap Goronwy, and was the father of Owen Tudor. Maredudd supported the Welsh rebellion of Owain Glyndŵr in 1400, alongside his brothers Rhys ap Tudur and Gwilym ap Tudur; Owain was their cousin.

References

  1. Haigh 2000, p. 345.
  2. Williams & Fraser 2000, p. 19.
  3. Fritze & Robison 1992, p. 94.
  4. Gibbon 1996, p. 51-63.
  5. Allmand 1992, p. 173-174.
  6. Griffiths & Thomas 2005, p. 35.
  7. Chrimes 1980, p. 320-333.
  8. Harvey 2003, p. 27.
  9. 1 2 Chrimes 1999, pp. 9–10.

Sources

Catherine of Valois
Cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty
Born: 27 October 1401 Died: 3 January 1437
English royalty
Vacant
Title last held by
Joanna of Navarre
Queen consort of England
Lady of Ireland

2 June 1420 – 31 August 1422
Vacant
Title next held by
Margaret of Anjou