Joan of Kent
|Joan of Kent|
|Princess of Wales
Princess of Aquitaine
Countess of Salisbury
4th Countess of Kent
5th Baroness Wake of Liddell
29 September 1328|
Woodstock Palace, Oxfordshire, England
|Died||7 August 1385
Wallingford Castle, Wallingford, Berkshire, England (present-day Wallingford, Oxfordshire, England, UK)
|Burial||Stamford, Lincolnshire, England|
|Spouse||Thomas Holland, 1st Earl of Kent
William Montacute, 2nd Earl of Salisbury
Edward, the Black Prince
Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent
John Holland, 1st Duke of Exeter
Joan Holland, Duchess of Brittany
Maud Holland, Countess of Ligny
Edward of Angoulême
Richard II of England
|House||House of Plantagenet
(by birth and marriage)
|Father||Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent|
|Mother||Margaret Wake, 3rd Baroness Wake of Liddell|
Joan, LG, 4th Countess of Kent, 5th Baroness Wake of Liddell (29 September 1328 – 7 August 1385), known to history as The Fair Maid of Kent, was the mother of King Richard II of England, whom she bore to her third husband Edward, the Black Prince, son and heir of King Edward III. Although the French chronicler Jean Froissart called her "the most beautiful woman in all the realm of England, and the most loving", the appellation "Fair Maid of Kent" does not appear to be contemporary. Joan assumed the title of 4th Countess of Kent and 5th Baroness Wake of Liddell after the death of her brother, John, in 1352.
Joan was the daughter of Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent, and Margaret Wake, 3rd Baroness Wake of Liddell. Her father Edmund was the son of King Edward I and his second wife, Margaret of France, daughter of Philip III of France. Edmund's support of his elder half-brother, King Edward II of England, placed him in conflict with the queen, Isabella of France, and her lover Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March. Edmund was executed after Edward II's deposition, and Joan's mother, along with her children, was placed under house arrest in Arundel Castle when Joan was only two years old.
The Earl of Kent's widow, Margaret, was left with four children for whom to care. Joan's first cousin, the new King Edward III, took on the responsibility for the family, and looked after them well. His wife, Queen Philippa, was Joan's second cousin.
In 1340, at the age of twelve, Joan secretly married Thomas Holland of Upholland, Lancashire, without first gaining the royal consent necessary for couples of their rank. The following winter (1340 or 1341), while Holland was overseas, her family forced her to marry William Montacute, son and heir of the first Earl of Salisbury. Joan later averred that she did not reveal her existing marriage with Thomas Holland because of her fear that disclosing it would lead, upon Holland's return, to his execution for treason. She may also have become convinced that the earlier marriage was invalid.
Holland returned from the Crusades several years later, having made his fortune, and the story of his relationship with Joan was revealed. He appealed to the Pope for the return of his wife, and confessed to the King his secret marriage. When the Earl of Salisbury discovered that Joan supported Holland’s case, he kept her a prisoner in her own home. In 1349, Pope Clement VI annulled Joan’s marriage to the Earl and sent her back to Thomas Holland, with whom she lived for the next eleven years. They had five children before Holland died in 1360.
Their children were:
- Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent
- John Holland, 1st Duke of Exeter
- Lady Joan Holland (1356–1384), who married John IV, Duke of Brittany (1339–1399).
- Lady Maud Holland (1359–1391), who married firstly Hugh Courtenay and secondly Waleran III of Luxembourg, Count of Ligny (1355–1415).
- Edmund Holland (c. 1354), who died young. He was buried in the church of Austin Friars, London.
Descendants of Joan of Kent through her children Lady Joan and Thomas Holland include Lady Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby (mother of King Henry VII), and queens consort Anne Neville, Elizabeth of York, and Catherine Parr.
Marriage into the royal family
Evidence of the desire held by Edward, the Black Prince (who was her first cousin once removed) for Joan may be found in the record of his presenting her with a silver cup, part of the booty from one of his early military campaigns. Edward's parents did not, however, favour a marriage between their son and their former ward. Queen Philippa had made a favourite of Joan at first, but both she and the King seem to have been concerned about Joan's reputation. English law was such that Joan's living ex-husband, Salisbury, might have claimed any children of her subsequent marriages as his own. In addition, Edward and Joan were within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity. The secret marriage they allegedly contracted in 1360 would have been invalid because of the consanguinity prohibition. At the King's request, the Pope granted a dispensation allowing the two to be legally married. The official ceremony occurred on 10 October 1361 at Windsor Castle, with the King and Queen in attendance. The Archbishop of Canterbury presided.
In 1362, the Black Prince was invested as Prince of Aquitaine, a region of France that had belonged to the English Crown since the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II. He and Joan moved to Bordeaux, the capital of the principality, where they spent the next nine years. Two sons were born in France to the royal couple. The elder son, named Edward (27 January 1365 – 1370) after his father and grandfather, died at the age of six. Around the time of the birth of their younger son, Richard, the Prince was lured into a war on behalf of King Peter of Castile. The ensuing battle was one of the Black Prince’s greatest victories; however, King Peter was later killed, and there was no money to pay the troops. In the meantime, the Princess was forced to raise another army, because the Prince’s enemies were threatening Aquitaine in his absence.
Transition to Dowager Princess of Wales
By 1371, the Black Prince was no longer able to perform his duties as Prince of Aquitaine, and returned to England, where plague was wreaking havoc. In 1372, he forced himself to attempt one final, abortive campaign in the hope of saving his father’s French possessions. His health was now completely shattered. On 7 June 1376, a week before his forty-sixth birthday, he died in his bed at Westminster.
Joan’s son was next in line to succeed King Edward III. Edward III died on 21 June 1377, and Richard became king as Richard II; he was crowned the following month, at the age of 10. Early in his reign, the young King faced the challenge of the Peasants' Revolt. The Lollards, religious reformers led by John Wyclif, had enjoyed Joan's protection, but the violent climax of the popular movement for reform reduced the feisty Joan to a state of terror, while leaving the King with an improved reputation.
As a power behind the throne, she was well loved for her influence over the young king. For example, on her return to London (via her Wickhambreaux estate) from a pilgrimage to Thomas Becket's shrine at Canterbury Cathedral in 1381, she found her way barred by Wat Tyler and his mob of rebels on Blackheath; however, she was not only let through unharmed, but saluted with kisses and provided with an escort for the rest of her journey.
In 1385, Sir John Holland, an adult son of her first marriage, was campaigning with the King in the Kingdom of Scotland, when a quarrel broke out between him and Ralph Stafford, son of the 2nd Earl of Stafford, a favourite of the new queen, Anne of Bohemia. Stafford was killed, and John Holland sought sanctuary at the shrine of St John of Beverley. On the King’s return, Holland was condemned to death. Joan pleaded with her son for four days to spare his half-brother. On the fifth day (the exact date in August is not known), she died, at Wallingford Castle. Richard relented, and pardoned Holland (though he was then sent on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land).
Joan was buried, as requested in her will, at the Greyfriars, the site of the present hospital, in Stamford in Lincolnshire, beside her first husband. Her third husband, the Black Prince, had built a chantry for her in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral (where he himself was to have been buried), with ceiling bosses of her face. Another boss in the north nave aisle is also said to be of her.
Joan of Kent features in several works of fiction.
As leading character
- The Life and Death of Jack Straw (1593) – an anonymous early modern play about the Peasants' Revolt of 1381 (as the queen mother).
- Emma Campion – A Triple Knot (2014)
- Gordon R. Dickson – The Dragon and the Fair Maid of Kent', the last published book in the semi-historical Dragon Knight series .
- Juliet Dymoke – Lady of the Garter (The Plantagenets Book 4) (1979)
- Karen Harper – Sweet Passion's Pain, republished as The First Princess of Wales.
- Molly Costain Haycraft – The Lady Royal: Joan is portrayed as a rival to her cousin, Isabella, for the affections of Enguerrand de Coucy.
- Susan Howatch – The Wheel of Fortune, a novel that takes the characters of the Plantagenet family and recreates them in a modern dimension of the Godwin family of Oxmoon (the throne), where she appears as Ginevra (Ginette).
- Maureen Peters – Fair Maid of Kent (1985)
- Anne O'Brien – The Shadow Queen (2017)
As a minor character
- Margaret Campbell Barnes – Within the Hollow Crown (1947)
- Emma Campion – The King's Mistress, as a friend of the main character, Alice Perrers.
- Sara Douglass – The Nameless Day (The Crucible, #1)
- Virginia Henley – Desired
- Madeline Hunter – By Arrangement
- Anya Seton – Katherine
- Jean Plaidy - Passage to Pontefract
|Ancestors of Joan of Kent|
- Alison Weir, Britain's Royal Families
- Wentersdorf p. 205.
- Wentersdorf, p. 206
- Wentersdorf, p. 212
- Douglas Richardson. Plantagenet Ancestry: A Study In Colonial And Medieval Families, 2nd Edition, 2011. pg 313-14.
- Mary Beacock Fryer, Arthur Bousfield, Garry Toffoli, Lives of the Princesses of Wales, Dundurn, Jul 26, 1996. pg 11. Google eBooks
- Douglas Richardson. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 2nd Edition, 2011.
- Douglas Richardson. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families, 2nd Edition, 2011. pg 159-164, 193-97, 200-01, 498-49.
- Wentersdorf, p. 217
- "72: Fair Maid of Kent roof boss, Canterbury Cathedral, north nave aisle". Fine Stone Miniatures. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
- "Historical Note", Gordon R. Dickson, The Dragon and the Fair Maid of Kent. Accessed 6 November 2014
- Tait, James (1892). "Joan". Dictionary of National Biography. 29: 392–393.
- The Times Kings & Queens of The British Isles by Thomas Cussans (page 92); ISBN 0-00-714195-5
- Wentersdorf, Karl P. (1979). "The clandestine marriages of the Fair Maid of Kent". Journal of Medieval History. 5 (3): 203–231. doi:10.1016/0304-4181(79)90037-X.
|Peerage of England|
John, 3rd Earl of Kent
|Countess of Kent
with Thomas Holland (jure uxoris 1352–1360;
1st Earl of the 1360 creation)
John of Kent, 4th Baron
|Baroness Wake of Liddell
Thomas Holland, 6th Baron