Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Joan (d.1237)
JOAN, JOANNA, ANNA, or JANET (d. 1237), princess of North Wales, is described in the ‘Tewkesbury Annals’ (a. 1236) as a daughter of John, king of England, ‘and Queen Clemencia,’ words which may possibly represent John's first wife, Isabel of Gloucester. (David Powel's statement that Joanna's mother was Agatha, daughter of Robert, earl Ferrers, rests upon no known authority.) Joanna must at any rate have been born some time before John's second marriage (1200). A charge for a ship ‘to carry the king's daughter and the king's accoutrements to England’ from Normandy in 1203 (Magn. Rot. Scacc. Norm., ed. Stapleton, ii. 569) probably refers to her. She seems to have been betrothed to Llywelyn ap Iorwerth [q. v.], prince of North Wales, early in 1205; part of her dowry, the castle of Ellesmere, was given by John to Llywelyn on 16 April (Rot. Chart. i. 147). The marriage is said to have taken place rather more than a year later (Ann. Wigorn. a. 1206), and thenceforth Joanna's task was to act as peacemaker between Wales and England. In 1211, when John led an army into North Wales, ‘Llywelyn, being unable to bear the cruelty of the king, by the advice of his liegemen, sent his wife, who was daughter to the king, to make peace between him and the king in any manner that she might be able;’ she succeeded in obtaining a safe-conduct for her husband, and his submission was accepted by her father for her sake (Brut y Tywysogion, a. 1210; Ann. Cambriæ and Ann. Wigorn. a. 1211). In September 1212, when John was preparing another attack on Wales, Joanna sent him a warning of treason among his barons, which, coupled with like warnings from other quarters, induced him to disband his host (Rog. Wend. ii. 61). In 1214 she interceded for some Welsh hostages in England, whose release she obtained next year (Rot. Claus. i. 181 b; Rymer, i. i. 126; Rot. Pat. i. 126). She continued her work of mediation after the accession of Henry III; a letter is extant in which she pleads earnestly with him for a good understanding between him and Llywelyn (Royal Letters, i. 487). In September 1224 she met Henry in person at Worcester (Rot. Claus. i. 622, 647 b); in the autumn of 1228 she had another interview with him at Shrewsbury (ib. 12 Hen. III, dors.), and on 13 Oct. 1229 she and her son David, acting apparently as Llywelyn's representatives, did homage to the king at Westminster (Cal. Rot. Pat. i. 14 b). David, who in 1240 succeeded his father as prince of North Wales, seems to have been Joanna's only son; but she also had a daughter, Ellen, married first to John Scot, earl of Chester, and secondly, in 1237 or 1238, to Robert de Quinci (Ann. Cambr. a. 1237; Matt. Paris, Chron. Maj. iii. 394; Ann. Dunstapl. a. 1237; Dugdale, Baronage, i. 688). It is not known whether she was the mother of Llywelyn's two other daughters, Gladys and Margaret. Gladys's first husband was Reginald de Braose, and her stepson, William de Braose, was hanged by Llywelyn in 1230, ‘having been caught in the chamber of the prince with the princess Janet, wife of the prince’ (Brut, a. 1231; cf. Matt. Paris, iii. 194; Ann. Margam, Tewkesb., Wigorn., a. 1230; Ann. Waverl. a. 1229; Ann. Cambr. a. 1227; Genealogist, v. 161–4). This affair seems to have been plotted by Llywelyn, to avenge himself on William for political injuries, and Joanna's part in it, if not wholly innocent, was that of her husband's accomplice. The ‘Tewkesbury Annals’ give the date of her death as 30 March 1236; but the Welsh chronicles say she died in February 1237, ‘at the court of Aber, and was buried in a new cemetery on the side of the strand,’ ‘with sore lamentations and great honour’ (Brut and Ann. Cambr. a. 1237). At the place of her burial, Llanvaes in Anglesey, Llywelyn founded a Franciscan monastery in her memory (Brut, a. 1237; Monast. Angl. vi. iii. 1545). Her stone coffin, removed at the dissolution of the monastery, was rescued from use as a horse-trough early in the present century, and placed in Baron Hill Park, near Beaumaris. On the slab which formed its cover is sculptured an effigy of the princess (T. Wright, Archæological Album, p. 171).
[All the authorities are given above. The Annales Cambriæ, Brut y Tywysogion, M. Paris, Annals of Tewkesbury, &c. (Annales Monastici), Royal Letters, and R. Wendover are published in the Rolls Ser.; the Close, Patent, and Charter Rolls, and Rymer's Fœdera, by the Record Commission.]