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Joan Beaufort, Queen of Scots


Joan Beaufort, Queen of Scots

Joan Beaufort
Joan Beaufort
Queen consort of Scotland
Tenure 2 February 1424 – 21 February 1437
Born c. 1404
Died 15 July 1445(1445-07-15) (aged c. 41)
Dunbar Castle, East Lothian
Burial Perth Charterhouse
Spouse James I of Scotland (m. 1424-1437)
James Stewart, the Black Knight of Lorn (m. 1439-1445)
Issue Margaret, Dauphine of France
Isabella, Duchess of Brittany
Eleanor, Archduchess of Austria
Mary, Countess of Buchan
Joan, Countess of Morton
James II of Scotland
Alexander, Duke of Rothesay
Annabella, Countess of Huntly
John, 1st Earl of Atholl
James, 1st Earl of Buchan
Andrew Stewart, Bishop of Moray
House House of Beaufort
Father John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset
Mother Margaret Holland
Religion Roman Catholic

Joan Beaufort (c. 1404 – 15 July 1445) was the Queen Consort of Scotland from 1424 to 1437 as the spouse of King James I of Scotland. During part of the minority of her son James II (from 1437 to 1439), she served as the Regent of Scotland.

Background and early life

She was a daughter of John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset, and Margaret Holland,[1] and a half-niece of King Henry IV of England.[2] James I of Scotland met Joan during his time as a prisoner in England and knew her from at least 1420.[1] She is said to have been the inspiration for James's famous long poem, The Kingis Quair, written during his captivity after he saw her from his window in the garden.[3] However, the marriage was at least partially political as their marriage was part of the agreement for his release from captivity, and from an English perspective an alliance with the Beauforts was meant to establish his country's alliance with the English, rather than the French.[1] Negotiations resulted in Joan's dowry of 10,000 merks being subtracted from his substantial ransom.[4]

Queen of Scotland

On 12 February 1424, Joan Beaufort and King James were wed at St Mary Overie Church in Southwark.[1][5] They were feasted at Winchester Palace that year by her uncle Cardinal Henry Beaufort. She accompanied her husband on his return from captivity in England to Scotland, and was crowned alongside her husband at Scone Abbey. As queen, she often pleaded with the king for those who might be executed.[6]

The royal couple had eight children, including the future James II, and Margaret of Scotland, spouse of Louis XI of France.[1]


James I was assassinated in Perth on 21 February 1437. Joan had also been a target of assassination along with her husband, but managed to escape with just injuries.[1] She successfully directed her husband's supporters to attack his assassin Walter Stewart, Earl of Atholl, but was forced to give up power three months later.[1] The prospect of being ruled by an English woman was unpopular.[1] The Earl of Douglas was thus appointed to power, though Joan remained in charge of her son.[1]

Near the end of July 1439, she married James Stewart, the Black Knight of Lorne[1] after obtaining a papal dispensation for both consanguinity and affinity. James was an ally of the latest Earl of Douglas, and plotted with him to overthrow Alexander Livingston, governor of Stirling Castle, during the minority of James II. Livingston arrested Joan in August 1439 and forced her to relinquish custody of the young king.[1] In 1445, the conflict continued and she fell under siege at Dunbar Castle, where she died on 15 July 1445.

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