Queen Joan I’s marriage to Philip IV of France had brought Navarre into French hands, and the two were united in one person, until Joan II. The future Joan II was born as the daughter of Louis X of France (Louis I of Navarre) and Margaret of Burgundy in 1312. Her mother became entangled in the Tour de Nesle Affair in 1314, where she was accused of adultery. She died under suspicious circumstances at Château Gaillard in 1315. It was to taint Joan for the rest of her life, she would always be the daughter of an adulteress, and some even doubted her own paternity, even after her father confirmed her as his legitimate daughter on his deathbed. After Margaret’s death, Louis remarried to Clementia of Hungary. He succeeded as King of France on 29 November 1314, but he died after a short reign on 5 June 1316. Clementia was pregnant at the time. She gave birth to a son, John the Posthumous, on 13 November 1316. He was King of France for the five days of his short life.
After his death, Joan should have inherited Navarre, which allowed for the succession of a female, as had been done before. While the salic law (complete exclusion of females) was not set yet in France, her uncle used her gender, as well as her age and her doubtful paternity, to exclude her from the succession. An assembly decided, “women do not succeed in the Kingdom of France”. Her uncle became Philip V of France and Philip II of Navarre, usurping her rights to the Navarrese throne. Joan had a strong supporter in her grandmother, Agnes of France, but she too could not stop it. A sort of agreement was reached where Joan was to renounce her claims to France and Navarre at the age of 12 (which never took place), and Joan was to marry her cousin Philip of Évreux with a dowry of 15,000 livres and the right to inherit the counties of Champagne and Brie if Philip V died without sons. Philip and Joan married on 18 June 1318 where after she lived with her husband’s grandmother, Marie of Brabant.
Philip V died in early 1322 without leaving a son and Joan’s last surviving uncle, Charles, succeeded him in France and Navarre. He died in 1328 leaving behind a pregnant widow. It was the 1316 situation all over again. A daughter named, Blanche, was born on 1 April, but now the direct male line had become extinct. There were now several claimants, including Joan and her husband, both descendants of French monarchs. The general assembly of Navarre passed a resolution requesting Joan to take control of its government, believing it to belong to her “by right of succession and inheritance”. France was inherited by Philip of Valois, who was the closest male relative of Charles IV in the male line. He had no claim to Navarre, Champagne or Brie as he was not a descendant of Joan I of Navarre. Philip acknowledged the right of Joan and her husband to rule in Navarre, though he did persuade them to renounce Champagne and Brie in exchange for other counties. At last, Joan was in her rightful place as Queen regnant of Navarre. Joan and her husband arrived in Navarre in early 1329 and were crowned in Pamplona Cathedral on 5 March. While Joan was the “true and natural heir” it was also specified that “all of the Kingdom of Navarre would obey her consort”. Joan and Philip would have nine children, though their first-born son would not live to adulthood. Their eventual successor, Charles, was born in 1332.
Their reign was a closely joint one. Of the 85 surviving decrees, 41 were issued in both their names. Philip was more active in the legislative field and signed 38 decrees alone. Through their many children, they maintained peaceful relationships with their neighbouring states. Their eldest daughter was supposed to marry Peter, the heir of Aragon, but she eventually became a nun and their second daughter married him. Their third daughter became the second wife of Philip VI of France. Joan’s husband died in September 1343; he was still only 37 years old. Their joint reign had been an effective and successful one. Joan was in their French territories at the time, and although preparations were made for her return to Navarre, she never did return. Meanwhile, she exercised her royal powers through the governors of Navarre. She died on 6 November 1349 and was buried in the Basilica of St. Denis.