Joan, Lady of Wales

Joan, Lady of Wales

Joan, Princess of Wales and Lady of Snowdon, (c. 1188 – February 2, 1237) was the wife of Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Wales and Gwynedd and effective ruler of most of Wales.

Early life

Joan (Joanna) was an illegitimate daughter of King John of England and a woman named Clemence Pinel. [Charles Cawley Medieval Lands, Wales] She should not be confused with her legitimate half-sister Joan, Queen Consort of Scotland.

Little is known about her early life; she was possibly born before her father, King John of England, married his first wife in 1189. Her mother's name is known only from Joan's obituary in the "Tewkesbury Annals," where she is mysteriously called "Regina Clementina" (Queen Clemence). Joan seems to have spent her childhood in France, as King John had her brought to the Kingdom of England from Normandy in preparation for her wedding in December 1203 at 15 years of age or so.


Joan married Llywelyn the Great between December 1203 and October 1204. She and Llywelyn had at least two children together:
# Elen ferch Llywelyn (Helen or Ellen) (1207-1253), married (1) John the Scot, Earl of Chester and (2) Robert II de Quincy
# Dafydd ap Llywelyn (c. 1215-1246) married Isabella de Braose, died at Garth Celyn, Aber Garth Celyn, (Aber).

Some of Llywelyn's other recorded children may also have been Joan's:
# Gwladus Ddu (1206-1251), married (1) Reginald de Braose and (2) Ralph de Mortimer.
# Susanna, who was sent to England as a hostage in 1228.
# Margaret, who married Sir John de Braose, the grandson of William de Braose, 7th Baron Abergavenny and had issue.

In April 1226 Joan obtained a papal decree from Pope Honorius III, declaring her legitimate on the basis that her parents had not been married to others at the time of her birth, but without giving her a claim to the English throne.

Adultery with William de Braose

At Easter 1230, William de Braose, 10th Baron Abergavenny, who was Llywelyn's nominal prisoner at the time, was discovered together with Joan in Llywelyn's bedchamber. William de Braose was hanged in the marshland at the foot of Garth Celyn, the place known since as Gwern y Grog. Joan herself was placed out of public view, under virtual house arrest, at Garth Celyn, for twelve months after the incident. She was then (apparently) forgiven by Llywelyn, and restored as wife and princess. She may have given birth to a daughter early in 1231 Fact|date=November 2007.

Joan was never called Princess of Wales, but, in Welsh, "Lady of Wales". She died at the royal home, Garth Celyn, Aber Garth Celyn, on the north coast of Gwynedd in 1237. Llywelyn's great grief at her death is recorded; he founded a Franciscan friary on the seashore at Llanfaes, opposite the royal home, in her honour. The friary was consecrated in 1240, shortly before Llywelyn died. It was closed down in 1537 by Henry VIII of England during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Joan's stone coffin can be seen in Beaumaris parish church, Anglesey. Above the empty coffin is a slate panel inscribed: "This plain sarcophagus, (once dignified as having contained the remains of JOAN, daughter of King JOHN, and consort of LLEWELYN ap IOWERTH, Prince of North Wales, who died in the year 1237), having been conveyed from the Friary of Llanfaes, and alas, used for many years as a horsewatering trough, was rescued from such an indignity and placed here for preseravation as well as to excite serious meditation on the transitory nature of all sublunary distinctions. By THOMAS JAMES WARREN BULKELEY, Viscount BULKELEY, Oct 1808"


*Joan and her affair with William de Braose is the subject of Saunders Lewis's Welsh verse play "Siwan."
*Edith Pargeter's novel "The Green Branch".
*Sharon Kay Penman's novel "Here Be Dragons".


*"Rotuli Litterarum Clausarum in Turri Londinensi" I, p. 12.
*Henry Luard. "Annales Monastici" 1, 1864
*"Tewkesbury Annals"
*"Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists Who Came to America Before 1700" By Frederick Lewis Weis, Lines: 27-27, 29A-28, 29A-29, 176B-27, 254-28, 254-29

External references


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