Joan Beaufort, Queen of Scots

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Joan Beaufort
Queen consort of Scotland
Tenure2 February 1424 – 21 February 1437
Coronation 21 May 1424
Bornc.1404 [1]
The Palace of Westminster, England
Died15 July 1445(1445-07-15) (aged 40–41)
Dunbar Castle, East Lothian, Scotland
  • (m. 1424;died 1437)
House Beaufort
Father John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset
Mother Margaret Holland

Joan Beaufort (c. 1404 – 15 July 1445) was Queen of Scotland from 1424 to 1437 as the spouse of King James I of Scotland. During part of the minority of her son James II (from 1437 to 1439), she served as the regent of Scotland.


Background and early life

Joan Beaufort was a daughter of John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset, a legitimised son of John of Gaunt by his mistress (and later third wife) Katherine Swynford. [2] Joan's mother was Margaret Holland, [3] the granddaughter of Joan of Kent (wife of Edward the Black Prince) from her earlier marriage to Thomas Holland, 1st Earl of Kent. Joan was also a half-niece of King Henry IV of England, first cousin once removed of Richard II, and great-granddaughter of Edward III. Her uncle, Henry Beaufort, was a cardinal and Chancellor of England. [4]

King James I of Scotland met Joan during his time as a prisoner in England, and knew her from at least 1420. [3] She is said to have been the inspiration for King James's famous long poem, The Kingis Quair , written during his captivity, after he saw her from his window in the garden. [5] The marriage was at least partially political, as their marriage was part of the agreement for his release from captivity. From an English perspective an alliance with the Beauforts was meant to establish Scotland's alliance with the English, rather than the French. [3] Negotiations resulted in Joan's dowry of 10,000 marks being subtracted from James's substantial ransom. [6]

Queen of Scotland

Arms of Joan as queen consort of Scotland Arms of Joan Beaufort.svg
Arms of Joan as queen consort of Scotland

On 12 February 1424, Joan Beaufort and King James were wed at St Mary Overie Church in Southwark. [3] [7] They were feasted at Winchester Palace that year by her uncle, Cardinal Henry Beaufort. She accompanied her husband on his return from captivity in England to Scotland, and was crowned alongside her husband at Scone Abbey. As queen, she often pleaded with the king for those who might be executed. [8]

The royal couple had eight children, including the future James II, and Margaret of Scotland, future spouse of Louis XI of France. [3]


James I was assassinated in Perth on 21 February 1437. Joan had also been a target of assassination along with her husband, but managed to survive her injuries. [3] She successfully directed her husband's supporters to attack his assassin Walter Stewart, Earl of Atholl, but was forced to give up power three months later. [3] The prospect of being ruled by an English woman was unpopular in Scotland. [3] The Earl of Douglas was thus appointed to power, though Joan remained in charge of her son. [3]

Near the end of July 1439, she married James Stewart, the Black Knight of Lorne [3] after obtaining a papal dispensation for both consanguinity and affinity. James was an ally of the latest Earl of Douglas, and plotted with him to overthrow Alexander Livingston, governor of Stirling Castle, during the minority of James II.[ citation needed ] Livingston arrested Joan in August 1439 and forced her to relinquish custody of the young king. [3] In 1445, the conflict between the Douglas/Livingston faction and the queen's supporters resumed, and she was under siege at Dunbar Castle by the Earl of Douglas when she died on 15 July 1445. She was buried in the Carthusian Priory at Perth. [3] [7]


With James I of Scotland: [9]

With James Stewart, the Black Knight of Lorne:



  1. "Joan Beaufort, Queen of Scotland". 27 February 2014. Retrieved 31 October 2021.
  2. "James I and Joan Beaufort: A Royal Love Story". History... the interesting bits!. 31 March 2015. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Brown 2004.
  4. "James I and Joan Beaufort: A Royal Love Story". History... the interesting bits!. 31 March 2015. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  5. Marshall 2003, pp. 49–50.
  6. Marshall 2003, pp. 50–51.
  7. 1 2 3 Weir 2008, p. 232.
  8. Marshall 2003, pp. 51–52.
  9. Richardson, Douglas. Everingham, Kimball G. (ed.). Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 2nd Edition, 2011. Douglas Richardson. pp. 579–582. ISBN   978-1-4610-4520-5.
  10. Weis, Frederick Lewis; Beall, William Ryland (1999). The Magna Charta Sureties, 1215: The Barons Named in the Magna Charta, 1215, and Some of Their Descendants who Settled in America During the Early Colonial Years. Genealogical Publishing Com. p. 117. ISBN   978-0-8063-1609-3.
  11. Morrison, Elspeth (18 December 2007). The Dorothy Dunnett Companion: Volume II. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. p. 73. ISBN   978-0-307-42844-8.
  12. Weir 2008, p. 93.
  13. Weir 2007, p. 6.
  14. Marshall 2003, p. 50.
  15. 1 2 3 Weir 2008, p. 125.
  16. Weir 2008, pp. 94, 125.
  17. Weir 2008, p. 77.

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Scottish royalty
Title last held by
Anabella Drummond
Queen consort of Scotland
Title next held by
Mary of Guelders