Joan of Kent : life and legends
Shaw, Amy Catherine
Master of Arts, History, (2002)
Abstract: Historically, few historians have examined Joan of Kent, the wife of the Black Prince and the mother of Richard II, in a serious or systematic fashion. Instead, she is seen as a romantic figure and the heroine of various legends. This thesis is an attempt to reexamine the evidence about Joan’s life, to present all that we know about her, and to place her life in a context of the lives and experiences of fourteenth-century English noble women.
The first chapter briefly examines the historiography of Joan’s life and a summarizes what is known about her. The second is recounts what we do know about her childhood as well as a description of the typical childhood of fourteenth century aristocratic girls. Joan participated in two clandestine marriage ceremonies, and the third chapter looks at the issue of clandestine marriage in the Middle Ages in general and at Joan’s marriages in particular.
The fourth chapter deals with Joan’s life as a married woman and specifically at her different roles and power as Princess of Wales. The fifth chapter discusses Joan’s widowhood and her involvement and influence in the English government. The last chapter is an epilogue that traces Joan’s descendents through the sixteenth century.
In summary, I argue that Joan and other medieval noble women had a more significant role both locally and nationally than many historians have claimed. Joan was an key figure in the highest levels of English politics in the 1370’s and 1380’s, and her life should be studied in this light, and not simply as the matter of two famous medieval love stories.