Joan of France, the Neglected Queen




Joan france
(public domain)

Joan of France was born on 23 April 1464 as the second daughter of Louis XI of France and Charlotte of Savoy. Shortly after she was born, it was agreed that she should marry her father’s second cousin, the Duke of Orléans who would become Louis XII of France.

At the age of 12, Joan was married to the Duke of Orléans in Montrichard. Her father died in 1483, and he was succeeded by Joan’s only brother Charles (VIII). Her older sister Anne became regent as Charles was still a child.

Charles died in an accident at the age of 27 in 1498. All of his children with Anne of Brittany died at birth or shortly after. He was therefore succeeded by his brother-in-law, Joan’s husband, Louis.

Louis wanted to have his marriage to Joan annulled because he wanted to marry Anne of Brittany. He hoped to keep the Duchy of Brittany. Louis claimed that Joan was physically deformed and that he had been unable to consummate the marriage. Joan fought this charge and produced witnesses that Louis had boasting about having mounted his wife three of four times during the night.

Unfortunately, the pope was not a neutral party in this case, and he granted the annulment. Joan was made Duchess of Berry, and she retired to Bourges.

Joan turned to the spiritual life. She made plans for the Order of the Virgin Mary, dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of Mary. She was committed to the order on 21 November 1504. She died there on 4 February 1505 and was buried in the chapel. She was only 40 years old.In 1562 her grave was desecrated by Huguenots during the sack of Bourges.

After miracles and healings had been attributed to her, she was beatified in 1742 and canonised in 1950. She is now known as Saint Joan of Valois.

During her lifetime she was the daughter, sister and wife of a French King. I find it quite sad she was shoved aside by her husband as he desperately tried to hang on to the Duchy of Brittany. She handled it well, I think, by not going against the pope’s ruling, however unfair it was. She turned to religious life, which hopefully helped her deal with the situation.






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My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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