Joan of England, Queen of Sicily

Last updated

Joan of England
Joan of England.jpg
Queen consort of Sicily
Tenure13 February 1177 – 11 November 1189
Coronation 13 February 1177
Countess consort of Toulouse
ConsortOctober 1196/7 – 4 September 1199
BornOctober 1165
Château d'Angers, Anjou
Died4 September 1199 (aged 33)
Rouen [1]
Burial
Spouse
(m. 1177)

Raymond VI of Toulouse
(m. 1196/7)
Issue Bohemond, Duke of Apulia
Raymond VII, Count of Toulouse
Joan of Toulouse
Richard of Toulouse
House Plantagenet / Angevin [nb 1]
Father Henry II, King of England
Mother Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine

Joan of England (October 1165 – 4 September 1199) was a queen consort of Sicily and countess consort of Toulouse. She was the seventh child of Henry II, King of England, and Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine. From her birth, she was destined to make a political and royal marriage. She married William II of Sicily and later Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse, two very important and powerful figures in the political landscape of Medieval Europe.

Contents

Early life

Joan was born in October 1165 at Château d'Angers in Anjou as the seventh child of Henry II, King of England and his queen consort, Eleanor of Aquitaine. [2] She spent her youth at her mother's courts at Winchester and Poitiers. As a young Angevin princess, Joan's early education consisted of subjects to ready her for a dynastic marriage. She likely learned how to sew and weave, sing, play an instrument, and ride a horse – a pastime that she loved. [3]

Queen of Sicily

In 1176, William II of Sicily sent ambassadors to the English court to ask for Joan's hand in marriage. [4] The betrothal was confirmed on 20 May, and Joan's father had to raise money to pay for the cost of the journey and the wedding. He did this by imposing a tax on English subjects. [3] On 27 August, Joan set sail for Sicily from Southampton, escorted by John of Oxford, the bishop of Norwich and her uncle, Hamelin de Warenne, Earl of Surrey. In the Angevin territories of northern France, she was met by her eldest brother Henry the Young King, and he escorted her to Poitou to her brother Richard the Lionheart. He took her to Saint Gilles, and her entourage was met by representatives of the Kingdom of Sicily: Alfano, Archbishop of Capua, and Richard Palmer, Bishop of Syracuse.

William's Death Bed. Vilem2Sicilie smrt.jpg
William's Death Bed.

After a hazardous voyage, Joan arrived safely in Palermo, and on 13 February 1177, she married King William and was crowned Queen of Sicily at Palermo Cathedral. [5]

Joan produced no surviving heir. Although there were rumours that she had given birth to a boy called Bohemond, in 1181 or 1182, he died in infancy if he did exist. [3] Traditionally, a royal husband in such a situation may have annulled the marriage for a chance to marry a woman who would give him a son. King William did not annul the marriage, nor did he express any interest in doing so. Instead, he named his aunt Constance, daughter of Roger II of Sicily as his heir.

When William II died in November 1189, Sicily was seized by his bastard cousin Tancred, who took the lands given to Joan by William with the sound strategic reason that Monte Sant'Angelo lay on the route taken by the invading forces of Heinrich VI of Germany husband of Constance. [1] He also put Joan under house arrest at Zisa, Palermo for her backing Constance to inherit the throne.

Third Crusade

Finally, her brother King Richard I of England arrived in Italy in 1190, on the way to the Holy Land. He demanded her return, along with every penny of her dowry. When Tancred balked at these demands, Richard seized a monastery and the castle of La Bagnara. He decided to spend the winter in Italy and attacked and subdued the city of Messina, Sicily. [6] Finally, Tancred agreed to the terms and sent Joan's dowry. In March 1191 Eleanor of Aquitaine arrived in Messina with Richard's bride, Berengaria of Navarre.

Eleanor returned to England, leaving Berengaria in Joan's care. Richard decided to postpone his wedding, put his sister and bride on a ship, and set sail. Two days later the fleet was hit by a fierce storm, destroying several ships and blowing Joan and Berengaria's ship off course. Richard landed safely in Crete, but they were stranded near Cyprus. The self-appointed despot of Cyprus, Isaac Comnenus was about to capture them when Richard's fleet suddenly appeared. The princesses were saved, but the despot made off with Richard's treasure. Richard pursued and captured Isaac, threw him into a dungeon, married Berengaria on 12 May 1191 at Limasol, Cyprus and then sent Joan and Berengaria on to Acre.

Joan was Richard's favourite sister, but he was not above using her as a bargaining chip in his political schemes. He even suggested marrying her to Saladin's brother, Al-Adil, and making them joint rulers of Jerusalem. Although Al-Adil and Saladin both expressed agreement with the arrangement, the plan failed when the high ranking priests opposed the wedding and threatened Richard that he would be excommunicated from the Christian Church. King Philip II of France also expressed some interest in marrying her, but this scheme, too, failed (possibly on grounds of affinity, since Philip's father Louis VII had formerly been married to her mother).

Countess of Toulouse

Joan's seal Joanna Plantagenet.jpg
Joan's seal

Joan was married in October 1196, at Rouen to Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse, as his third wife, with Quercy and the Agenais as her dowry. She was the mother of his successor Raymond VII of Toulouse (born July 1197), and a daughter, Joan (born 1198), who married Bernard II de la Tour, Lord of la Tour.

Some chroniclers, who disliked Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse (believing he was a heretic), claim that his marriage to Joan quickly became unhappy, and that she had been fleeing to her brother Richard's domains in 1199, when she learned of Richard's death. "The Chronicle of Guillaume de Puylaurens", however, says the following of Joan's last few months: "She was an able woman of great spirit, and after she had recovered from childbed, she was determined to counter the injuries being inflicted upon her husband at the hands of numerous magnates and knights. She therefore took arms against the lords of Saint-Felix, and laid siege to a castrum belonging to them known as Les Cassés. Her efforts were of little avail; some of those with her treacherously and secretly provided arms and supplies to the besieged enemy. Greatly aggrieved, she abandoned the siege, and was almost prevented from leaving her camp by a fire started by the traitors. Much affected by this injury, she hastened to see her brother King Richard to tell him about it but found that he had died. She herself died, whilst pregnant, overcome by this double grief."

Death and burial

Joan asked to be admitted to Fontevrault Abbey, an unusual request for a married, pregnant woman, but this request was granted. She died in childbirth and was veiled a nun on her deathbed. Her son, born by Caesarean section once Joan had died, lived just long enough to be baptised, receiving the name of Richard. Joan was thirty-three years old.

Joan was buried at Fontevrault Abbey. Her effigy was originally shown kneeling at the head of her father's tomb with her hands clasped and head bent in an attitude of devotion which was expressed on her face. Her son Raymond was buried beside her and his effigy knelt facing hers. Both effigies were destroyed during the French Revolution.

Notes

  1. Historians are divided in their use of the terms "Plantagenet" and "Angevin" in regards to Henry II and his sons. Some class Henry II to be the first Plantagenet king of England; others refer to Henry, Richard and John as the Angevin dynasty, and consider Henry III to be the first Plantagenet ruler.

Historical sources

Related Research Articles

Eleanor of Aquitaine 12th-century Duchess of Aquitaine and queen-consort of France and England

Eleanor of Aquitaine was queen consort of France (1137–1152) and England (1154–1189) and duchess of Aquitaine in her own right (1137–1204). As the heir of the House of Poitiers, rulers in southwestern France, she was one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in western Europe during the High Middle Ages. She was patron of literary figures such as Wace, Benoît de Sainte-Maure, and Bernart de Ventadorn. She led armies several times in her life and was a leader of the Second Crusade.

Richard I of England 12th-century King of England and crusader

Richard I was King of England from 1189 until his death in 1199. He also ruled as Duke of Normandy, Aquitaine and Gascony, Lord of Cyprus, and Count of Poitiers, Anjou, Maine, and Nantes, and was overlord of Brittany at various times during the same period. He was the third of five sons of King Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine and seemed unlikely to become king, but all his brothers except the youngest, John, predeceased their father. Richard is known as Richard Cœur de Lion or Richard the Lionheart because of his reputation as a great military leader and warrior. The troubadour Bertran de Born also called him Richard Oc-e-Non, possibly from a reputation for terseness.

Louis VII of France King of France from 1137 to 1180

Louis VII, called the Younger or the Young, was King of the Franks from 1137 to 1180. He was the son and successor of King Louis VI and married Duchess Eleanor of Aquitaine, one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in western Europe. The marriage temporarily extended the Capetian lands to the Pyrenees, but was annulled in 1152 after no male heir was produced.

Berengaria of Navarre 12th and 13th-century wife and queen of King Richard I of England

Berengaria of Navarre was queen of England as the wife of Richard I of England. She was the eldest daughter of Sancho VI of Navarre and Sancha of Castile. As is the case with many of the medieval English queens, relatively little is known of her life.

William II of Sicily King of Sicily

William II, called the Good, was king of Sicily from 1166 to 1189. Our understanding of William's character is indistinct. Lacking in military enterprise, secluded and pleasure-loving, he seldom emerged from his palace life at Palermo. Yet his reign is marked by an ambitious foreign policy and a vigorous diplomacy. Champion of the papacy and in secret league with the Lombard cities, he was able to defy the common enemy, Frederick Barbarossa. In the Divine Comedy, Dante places William II in Paradise. He is also referred to in Boccaccio's Decameron.

Duke of Aquitaine

The Duke of Aquitaine was the ruler of the ancient region of Aquitaine under the supremacy of Frankish, English, and later French kings.

Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany 12th-century Duke of Brittany and son of King Henry II of England

Geoffrey II was Duke of Brittany and 3rd Earl of Richmond between 1181 and 1186, through his marriage with the heiress Constance. Geoffrey was the fourth of five sons of Henry II, King of England and Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine.

Eleanor of England, Queen of Castile 12th-century English princess and queen consort of Castile and Toledo

Eleanor of England, was Queen of Castile and Toledo as wife of Alfonso VIII of Castile. She was the sixth child and second daughter of Henry II, King of England, and Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Duchy of Aquitaine Medieval duchy in southern France

The Duchy of Aquitaine was a historical fiefdom in western, central and southern areas of present-day France to the south of the Loire River, although its extent, as well as its name, fluctuated greatly over the centuries, at times comprising much of what is now southwestern France (Gascony) and central France.

Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse Count of Toulouse

Raymond VI was Count of Toulouse and Marquis of Provence from 1194 to 1222. He was also Count of Melgueil from 1173 to 1190.

Angevin Empire Medieval dynastic union of states in present-day England, France and Ireland

The Angevin Empire describes the possessions of the Angevin kings of England who held lands in England and France during the 12th and 13th centuries. Its rulers were Henry II, Richard I (r. 1189–1199), and John (r. 1199–1216). The Angevin Empire is an early example of a composite state.

House of Plantagenet English 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 at the end of The Anarchy crisis, until 1485, when Richard III died in battle.

William des Roches was a French knight and crusader who acted as Seneschal of Anjou, of Maine and of Touraine. After serving the Angevin kings of England, in 1202 he changed his loyalty to King Philip II of France and became a leading member of his government.

Geoffrey VI was Count of Nantes from 1156 to 1158. He was also known as Geoffrey of Anjou and Geoffrey FitzEmpress. He was the son of Geoffrey Plantagenet and Empress Matilda. His brothers were Henry II of England and William FitzEmpress.

The Devil's Crown is a BBC television series which dramatised the reigns of three medieval Kings of England: Henry II and his sons Richard the Lionheart and John Lackland. It is also known as La couronne du Diable in French.

Matilda of England, Duchess of Saxony 12th-century English princess and duchess

Matilda of England, was an English princess of the House of Plantagenet and by marriage Duchess consort of Saxony and Bavaria from 1168 until her husband's deposition in 1180.

Constance of France was a French princess of the House of Capet, the only daughter of Louis VI of France and his second wife Adélaide de Maurienne. Amongst her siblings was Louis VII, who succeeded their father in 1137.

Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor 12th century Hohenstaufen Holy Roman Emperor

Henry VI, a member of the Hohenstaufen dynasty, was King of Germany from 1169 and Holy Roman Emperor from 1191 until his death. From 1194 he was also King of Sicily.

Angevin kings of England 12th–13th century English royal house

The Angevins were a royal house of French origin that ruled England in the 12th and early 13th centuries; its monarchs were Henry II, Richard I and John. In the 10 years from 1144, two successive counts of Anjou in France, Geoffrey and his son, the future Henry II, won control of a vast assemblage of lands in western Europe that would last for 80 years and would retrospectively be referred to as the Angevin Empire. As a political entity this was structurally different from the preceding Norman and subsequent Plantagenet realms. Geoffrey became Duke of Normandy in 1144 and died in 1151. In 1152 his heir, Henry, added Aquitaine by virtue of his marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine. Henry also inherited the claim of his mother, Empress Matilda, the daughter of King Henry I, to the English throne, to which he succeeded in 1154 following the death of King Stephen.

The Damsel of Cyprus, possibly named Beatrice or Maria, was the daughter of Isaac Komnenos, emperor of Cyprus, and an Armenian princess. She was her father's sole heiress. Her given name is not known with certainty and she is known by convention as the "Damsel of Cyprus".

References

  1. 1 2 Abulafia 2004
  2. The Later Crusades, 1189–1311, Volume 2, ed. Kenneth M. Setton, Robert Lee Wolff, Harry W. Hazard, (The University of Wisconsin Press, 1969), 841.
  3. 1 2 3 Huscroft, Richard. The Growth of An Empire, Chapter 6 "The Princess's Tale".
  4. W. L. Warren, Henry II, (University of California Press, 1977), 143.
  5. Louise J. Wilkinson, Eleanor de Montfort: A Rebel Countess in Medieval England, (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2012), 27.
  6. The Norman Kingdom of Sicily and the Crusades, Helene Wieruszowski, The Later Crusades, 1189–1311, Vol. 2, 41.

Bibliography

Further reading

Joan of England
Born: October 1165 Died: 4 September 1199
Preceded by
Margaret of Navarre
Queen consort of Sicily
13 February 1177 – 11 November 1189
Succeeded by
Sibylla of Acerra