Joan of Navarre

Joan of Navarre

Joan of Navarre,

2nd wife of King Henry IV



ca. 1368-1370, daughter of Charles II (“the Bad”) of Navarre and Joan, daughter of King John II of France, at Evreux, Normandy


  1. 11 September 1386 John IV of Montfort, Duke of Brittany, at Saille, Navarre
  2. 7 February 1403 Henry IV at Winchester Cathedral


26 February 1403 at Westminster Abbey, London


9 July 1437 at Havering-atte-Bower, Essex


Canterbury Cathedral

n 1386, teenage Joan of Navarre married late-forties John of Brittany, twice-widowed and childless. His marriage to Joan brought eight! John and Joan managed to bridge their considerable age gap. They enjoyed a contented marriage for thirteen years until John’s death in 1399. In a true mark of respect for Joan’s abilities, Joan was named regent for their 10-year-old son John.

When Henry IV proposed to Joan, there was more than diplomacy involved. Joan and Henry were acquainted. Joan had accompanied Duke John to England in April 1398 when he was inducted into the Order of the Garter and, when Henry was exiled later that year, he visited the ducal court of Brittany.

Henry proved a faithful and indulgent husband. Joan had a gift for creating happy families. She brought her two youngest daughters to England with her and her two younger sons visited her on more than one occasion. Joan also seems to have established friendly relations with Henry’s children.

After Henry IV’s death in 1413, Joan’s stepson Henry V treated her with respect. In 1415, she participated in his triumphal entry into London after his great victory at Agincourt. In 1416, she became a Lady Companion of the Order of the Garter. In 1417, she was instrumental in crafting another Anglo-Breton truce.

The situation changed in 1419, however. Henry V was overwhelmed by financial crises caused by his ongoing war with France and his own marriage. For motives that were entirely mercenary, Joan was charged with sorcery and her possessions confiscated. She was kept in comfortable custody with Henry V holding – and profiting from – her considerable lands and estates. Shortly before his death, a guilt-ridden Henry V ordered her release. Some of her goods were gradually restored but Joan lived thereafter in retirement.

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