- Joan of England, Queen of Sicily
Infobox British Royalty | royal | consort
name = Joan of England
title = Queen consort of Sicily
caption = Joan and Richard I greet
Philip II of France
reign = "Sicily:" 13 February 1177 – 11 November 1189
"Toulouse:" October 1196/7 – 4 September 1199
coronation = "Sicily:" 13 February 1177
William II of Sicily
(m. 1177; d. 1189)
Raymond VI of Toulouse
Raymond VII of Toulouse
styles = The Countess of Toulouse
The Dowager Queen of Sicily
The Queen of Sicily
royal house =
House of Rouergue
House of Plantagenet
Henry II of England
Eleanor of Aquitaine
date of birth = October 1165
place of birth =
Château d'Angers, Anjou
date of death = death date and age|1199|09|04|1165|10|04|df=yes
place of death =
place of burial =
Joan of England (October 1165 – 4 September 1199) was the seventh child of
Henry II of Englandand his queen consort, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Joan was a younger maternal half-sister of Marie de Champagneand Alix of France. She was a younger sister of William, Count of Poitiers, Henry the Young King, Matilda of England, Richard I of England, Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittanyand Leonora of Aquitaine. She was also an older sister of John of England.
Queen consort of Sicily
Joan was born at
Château d'Angersin Anjou, and spent her youth at her mother's courts at Winchesterand Poitiers. In 1176, William II of Sicilysent ambassadors to the English court to ask for Joan's hand in marriage. The betrothal was confirmed on 20 May and on 27 August Joan set sail for Sicily, escorted by John of Oxford, the bishop of Norwichand her uncle, Hamelin de Warenne, 5th Earl of Surrey. In Saint Gilles, her entourage was met by representatives of the Kingdom of Sicily: Alfano, Archbishop of Capua, and Richard Palmer, Bishop of Syracuse.
After a hazardous voyage, Joan arrived safely, and on 13 February 1177, she married
William II of Sicilyand was crowned Queen of Sicilyat Palermo Cathedral. They had one son, Bohemond, born in 1181 and who died in infancy. Following William's death in 1189, she was kept a prisoner by the new king, Tancred of Sicily.
Finally, her brother
Richard I of Englandarrived in Italy in 1190, on the way to the Holy Land. He demanded her return, along with every penny of her dowry. When Tancred balked at these demands, Richard seized a monastery and the castle of La Bagnara. He decided to spend the winter in Italy and attacked and subdued the city of Messina. Finally, Tancred agreed to the terms and sent Joan's dowry. In March 1191 Eleanor of Aquitainearrived in Messina with Richard's bride, Berengaria of Navarre.
Eleanor returned to England, leaving Berengaria in Joan's care. Richard decided to postpone his wedding, put his sister and bride on a ship, and set sail. Two days later the fleet was hit by a fierce storm, destroying several ships and blowing Joan and Berengaria's ship off course. Richard landed safely in
Crete, but they were stranded near Cyprus. The self-appointed despot of Cyprus, Isaac Comnenus was about to capture them when Richard's fleet suddenly appeared. The princesses were saved, but the despot made off with Richard's treasure. Richard pursued and captured Isaac, threw him into a dungeon, and sent Joan and Berengaria on to Acre.
Joan was Richard's favourite sister, but he was not above using her as a bargaining chip in his political schemes. He even suggested marrying her to
Saladin's brother, Al-Adil, and making them joint rulers of Jerusalem. This plan fell apart when Joan refused to marry a Muslim and Al-Adil refused to marry a Christian. King Philip II of Francealso expressed some interest in marrying her, but this scheme, too, failed (possibly on grounds of affinity, since Philip's father Louis VII had formerly been married to her mother).
Countess of Toulouse
Joan was married in October 1196, at
Rouen, to Raymond VI of Toulouse, with Quercyand the Agenaisas her dowry. She was the mother of his successor Raymond VII of Toulouse, and a short lived daughter (1198).
This new husband treated her none too gently, however, and Joan came to fear him and his knights. In 1199, while pregnant with a third child, Joan was left alone to face a rebellion in which the lords of Saint-Félix-de-Caraman were prominent. She laid siege to their castle at les Cassès but was menaced by treachery. Escaping this threat, Joan travelled northwards, hoping for her brother's protection, but found him dead at
Chalus. [Guillaume de Puylaurens Harv|Duvernoy|1976|pp=44-47] She then fled to her mother Queen Eleanor's court at Rouen, where she was offered refuge and care.
Joan asked to be admitted to
Fontevrault Abbey, an unusual request for a married, pregnant woman, but this request was granted. She died in childbirthand was veiled a nun on her deathbed. Her son lived just long enough to be baptised (he was named Richard). Joan was thirty-three years old. She was buried at Fontevrault Abbey, and fifty years later her son Raymond VII would be interred next to her.
Depictions in fiction
The Plantagenet romance novelist
Molly Costain Haycraftwrote a fictionalized account of Joan's life, beginning with the death of her first husband, in the book "My Lord Brother the Lionheart".
Robert of Torigni
Roger of Hoveden
Ralph of Diceto
*Harvard reference | Surname=Duvernoy | Given=Jean, editor | Authorlink=Jean Duvernoy | Title=
Guillaume de Puylaurens, Chronique 1145-1275: Chronica magistri Guillelmi de Podio Laurentii | Publisher=CNRS | Place=Paris | Year=1976 | ISBN=2910352064
* Payne, Robert. "The Dream and the Tomb", 1984
* Owen, D.D.R. "Eleanor of Aquitaine: Queen and Legend"
* Wheeler, Bonnie. "Eleanor of Aquitaine: Lord and Lady", 2002
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