Joan of Navarre (DNB00)
|←Joan (1328–1385)||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 29
Joan of Navarre
JOAN or JOANNA of Navarre (1370?-1437), queen of Henry IV of England, second daughter of Charles d'Albret, surnamed the Bad, king of Navarre, and Joanna, daughter of John II, king of France, was born about 1370. In 1380 she was betrothed to John, the heir of Castile, but the match was broken off. Next year she and her two brothers were taken to Paris as hostages for the good behaviour of their father, but were eventuelly released through the mediation of John of Castile. In 1386 her uncles, the Dukes of Berri and Burgundy, wishing to secure the friendship of Brittany for the French monarchy, arranged a marriage between Joanna and John IV, duke of Brittany, who had lately lost his second wife. The contract signed at Pampeluna on 25 Aug. 1398, and the marriage took place at Saillé, near Guerrand, on 11 Sept. Duke John very soon reverted to his English alliance, and at the same time became embroiled with Oliver de Clisson in a quarrel which extended over several years. During the progress of this dispute, Joanna on one occasion saved the French ambassadors from her husband's wrath ; she was also instrumental in effecting a temporary reconciliation between the duke and De Clisson in 1393 (Morice, i. 409, 418). In 1395 there was talk of a marriage between her daughter Mary and the youthful Henry of Monmouth, whose father, afterwards Henry IV, visited the Breton court in 1399. On 1 Nov. 1399 Duke John IV died, having had by Joanna eight children: John, duke of Brittany (1388-1442); Arthur, famous in French history as the Comte de Richemonte; Gilles (d. 1412); Richard, comte d'Estampes (d. 1436); Joanna (b. and d. 1367); Marie, duchesse d'Alençon (d. 1446), Blanche, comtesse d'Armagnac, and Margaret, vicomtesse de Rohan, who both died young.
Joanna now became regent of Brittany for her son, and at once effected a complete reconciliation with De Clisson (Lobineau, ii. 803-4). On 23 March 1401 the young duke took the oaths at Rennes. Early in the following year negotiations were opened for a marriage between Joanna and Henry IV of England, the latter probably finding his inducement in the desire to restore the old agreement between England and Brittany, and in the rich dower which the duchess enjoyed. On 14 March 1401-2 Joanna appointed Antony de Riczi her procurator to treat for the marriage, and six days later obtained from Benedict XIII, the Avignonese pope, a general dispensation to marry within the fourth degree of consanguinity. The wedding ceremony was performed by proxy at Eltham on 3 April, De Riczi representing his mistress (Chron. Briocense ap. Lobineau, ii. 874-6). Some time, however, elapsed before the confirmation of these proceedings; Joanna required a dispensation to live among schismatics, England being in the obedience of the Roman pope. This was obtained on 28 July 1402, but it was still necessary to provide for the government of Brittany. The Breton barons dissapproved of the match, and in September sent to the Duke of Burgundy for assistance. On 1 Oct. Burgundy came to Nantes, and there an agreement was made by which Joanna consented to leave her elder children behind, under the guardianship of Burgundy (Chron. du Rel. S.-Denys, iii. 41-3) Joanna's only other act before her departure was an attempt to sell Nantes to Oliver de Clisson, but its governor refused to surrender the town (Lobineau, ii. 878). On 20 Dec. Joanna, who had already assumed the title of queen, left Nantes with her two youngest daughters and a numerous train. On 13 Jan. 1403 she embarked at Camaret, on board an English fleet commanded by the Earls of Somerset and Worcester and Henry Bentfort, then bishop of Lincoln (Fœdera, vii. 288; Devon, Issues of Exchequer, p. 292). The fleet was driven out of its course by storm and forced to put into a Cornish port, whence Joanna proceed to Winchester, where marriage took place on 7 Feb. This was followed on the 26th by the coronation of the queen at Westminster (ib. p. 296; Ann. Hen. IV, p. 350).
Joanna's earlier life in England was troubled by matters connected with the payment of her dowry, which was by petition of the commons fixed at ten thousand marks (Rot. Parl. iii. 532, 548-9, 577, 386, 625, 632). In 1404 she was specially allowed to retain her two daughters and a Breton attendant when other aliens were expelled, but two years later she was compelled to part with them (ib. p. 527; Ann. Hen. IV, pp. 379, 419). Various grants to her from the king are recorded, among them being one of the tower near the gate of Westminster Hall, for the transaction of her business and custody of her muniments (Fœdera, viii. 380-1, 408). In February 1408 Joanna had a tomb with a sculptured effigy executed in England, and erected in Nantes Cathedral to the memory of her first husband (ib. viii. 510). Engravings are given by Lobineau (i. 478) and Morice (i. 426). She also kept up friendly relations with her sons. On 9 Nov. 1408 she had licenses to send lead to her eldest son, and in the following year Gilles, her third son, paid her a visit (Fœdera, viii. 606, 744). Joanna was left a widow once more by the deatk of Henry IV on 19 March 1413. She had no children by her second marriage.
Joanna's relations with her stepson, the new king, were at first very friendly. Henry V took special leave of her before his deputure on his first French expedition (Nicolas, Agincourt, p. 24), and on 30 June 1415 gave his `dearest mother´ permission to reside during his absence at any of the castles of Windsor, Wallingford, Berkhampstead, or Hertford (Fœdera, ix. 603). There is, however, no authority for the statement made by Holinshed (iii. 69, ed. 1807) and others, that she was left as regent during the king's absence. A pathetic story is told of how, when her son Arthur was brought back a prisoner after Agincourt, and came to visit his mother, she made one of her ladies take her place. The count, who had not seen his mother since a visit to England in 1404, failed to recognize the mistake until Joanna betrayed herself (Nicolas, Agincourt, pp. l57-8). The relations of Joonna with the king were still friendly in 1418 (Fœdera, ix. 603), but in the following year she was accused by John Randolph, a Franciscan friar, her confessor, `of compassing the death of the king in the most horrible manner that could be devised´ (Rot. Parl. iv. 118); elsewhere the accusation is definitely one of witchcraft (Chron. Lond. p. 107; Walsingham, ii 331). The whole affair was very obscure; her accuser is said to have been put to death (Hollinshed, iii. 106). Joanna was deprived of all her revenues, and was committed to the custody of Sir John Pelham at Pevensey Castle (cf. Devon, Issues of Exchequer, p. 362). Some light in thrown by a statement made in 1435 that Henry V had banished `strangers about Queen Joanna, who give information to the enemy, and carry much treasure out of the kingdom´ (Rot. Parl. iv, 306). It must be remembered that Joanna's son, the Duke of Brittany, was on the whole hostile to Henry's pretentions in France. On 13 July 1433 an order was given for Joanna's release and for the restitution of her dower; at this time she was resident at Leeds in Kent. Final restitution was not made till next year; the amount of her dower is given as 3,910 marks 10a. 8d. (ib. iv. 247). The remainder of Joanna's life was passed peacefully at Langley and Havering-atte-Bower. In 1438 there was some trouble as to the payment of her dower from Brittany, the duchy being hostile to England (Lobineau, i. 575, 581). In 1481 her house at Langley was burnt (Hart. MS. 3775, art. 9). In 1433 she is mentioned as being in receipt of an annuity of five hundred marks (Rot. Parl. iv. 435). She died at Havering-atte-Bower on 8 July 1437 (Chron. Lond. p. 133), and was buried at Canterbury on 6 Aug. by the side of her second husband. There is a sculptured effigy on the tomb which gives the idea of a very lovely woman; a similar impression is conveyed by a portrait in Cotton. MS. Julius E. iv. f. 202.
[Lobineau´s, Hist. de Bretagne, i, 454, 456, 501-3, 575, 581, ii. 580, 768, 797, 803-8, 861-878; Morice's Hist. Ecclesiastique et Civile de Bretagne, i. 395-6, 409, 418, 431; Annales Henrici Quarti in Trokelowe, Blaneford, &c. (Rolls Ser.); Chron. of London, ed. Sir N. H. Nicolas, 1827; Rymer´s Fœdera, orig. ed.; Strickland´s Lives of Queens of England, iii. 45-112; authorities quoted in text.]