Joan Of Kent: The Remarkable Life Of The Fair Maid of Kent

Joan of Kent, also known as the Fair Maid of Kent, was a prominent figure in medieval England.

She was the mother of King Richard II and played a significant role in shaping the country’s history.

In this article, we will delve into the life of this remarkable woman and explore her early life, marriages, and legacy.

Early Life

Joan was born in either 1326 or 1327 and was the daughter of Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent, and Margaret Wake, 3rd Baroness Wake of Liddell. Her father was the sixth son of King Edward I of England, while her mother was a noblewoman in her own right.

However, Joan’s childhood was not without turmoil. Her father was executed in 1330 after falling out of favour with King Edward II’s wife, Queen Isabella of France, and her family was placed under house arrest in Arundel Castle in Sussex.

They were only released when King Edward III reached adulthood and took charge of affairs.

Early Marriages

At the age of 13, Joan secretly married Thomas Holland of Up Holland, Lancashire, without gaining the necessary royal consent.

While Thomas was overseas on an English military campaign in France, Joan’s family arranged for her to marry William Montagu, son and heir of William Montagu, 1st Earl of Salisbury. When Thomas returned from France and revealed his marriage to Joan, William Montagu held her captive.

However, in 1349, Pope Clement VI annulled Joan’s marriage to William Montagu and ordered her to marry Thomas Holland in the Church. Later, Joan inherited her parents’ titles and became the 4th Countess of Kent and the 5th Baroness Wake of Liddell.

Marriage To The Black Prince

Joan’s first husband, Thomas Holland, died in 1360, and this made her an attractive marriage prospect for Edward, the Black Prince, son of her half-first cousin King Edward III.

Although there is evidence of Edward’s long-held desire for Joan, his parents did not initially favour a marriage between them.

However, King Edward III assisted his son in acquiring all four necessary dispensations to marry Joan.

In 1361, Joan and the Black Prince were officially married at Windsor Castle, with the King and Queen in attendance. The couple moved to Bordeaux, France, where they spent the next nine years.

Joan of Kent gave birth to two sons, but tragically, the elder son died at the age of five.

Transition To Dowager Princess of Wales

After the Black Prince’s health deteriorated, he and Joan returned to England. In 1377, after the death of Edward III, their son Prince Richard was crowned King Richard II at the age of 10.

As the King’s mother, Joan exercised significant influence behind the scenes and was recognized for her contributions during the early years of her son’s reign.

She also had a certain respect among the people as a royal dowager. However, she was also fearful of the Peasants’ Revolt, which was a popular movement for religious reform that climaxed in violence.

Death And Burial Of Joan Of Kent

In 1385, Joan’s son John Holland was involved in a quarrel that led to the death of Sir Ralph Stafford.

Holland sought sanctuary at the shrine of St John of Beverley, but on the King’s return, he was condemned to death.

Joan pleaded with her son for four days to spare Holland’s life, but she died on the fifth day. She was buried beside her first husband, Thomas Holland, at the Greyfriars in Stamford, Lincolnshire.

Legacy

Joan’s legacy lies in her contributions to the English monarchy. As a noblewoman and the mother of a king, she had a significant impact on the political landscape of her time.

Her support for religious reform and her influence on her son’s early reign was notable contributions.

Additionally, her personal life was marked by scandal and controversy, but she persevered and eventually became a respected figure in her own right.

Joan Of Kent: The Remarkable Life Of The Fair Maid of Kent
Joan of Kent, her mother, and her siblings were confined under house imprisonment at Arundel Castle in Sussex.

Conclusion

Joan of Kent, the Fair Maid of Kent, was a remarkable woman whose life story is worth exploring.

Her early life was marked by turmoil, but she eventually found love and stability with her third husband, the Black Prince.

As a mother and a dowager princess, she played an important role in shaping the English monarchy. Her legacy continues to inspire and fascinate us to this day.

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