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Joan of England, Queen of Sicily

1165 - 1199


About Joan of England

Known for: daughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II of England, Joan of England lived through kidnapping and shipwreck

Occupation: English princess, Sicilian queen

Dates: October 1165 - September 4, 1199

Also known as: Joanna of Sicily

Background, Family:

Marriage, Children:

  1. husband: William II of Sicily (married February 13, 1177)
    • child: Bohemond, Duke of Apulia: died in infancy
  2. husband: Raymond VI of Toulouse (married October 1196)
    • children: Raymond VII of Toulouse; Mary of Toulouse; Richard of Toulouse

More About Joan of England:

Born in Anjou, Joan of England was the second youngest of the children of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II of England. Joan grew up mainly in Poitiers and Winchester.

In 1176, Joan's father agreed to her marriage to William II of Sicily. They were married in Sicily in February of 1177. Their only son, Bohemond, did not survive infancy.

When William died in 1189, the new king of Sicily, Tancred, imprisoned Joan. Joan's brother, Richard I, on his way to the Holy Land for a crusade, stopped in Italy to demand Joan's release and the full repayment of her dowry. When Tancred resisted, Richard took a monastery, by force, and then took the city of Messina. It was there that Eleanor of Aquitaine landed with Richard's chosen bride, Berengaria of Navarre. Her dowry returned, Joan took charge of Berengaria while her mother returned to England.

Richard set sail for the Holy Land, with Joan and Berengaria on a second ship. The ship with the two women was stranded in Cyprus after a storm; Richard narrowly rescured his bride and wife from Isaac Comnenus. Richard imprisoned Isaac and sent his sister and his bride to Acre, following shortly.

In the Holy Land, Richard proposed that Joan marry Saphadin, the brother of the Muslim leader, Saladin. Joan and the proposed groom both objected on the basis of their religious differences.

Briefly, Richard considered marrying Joan to Philip II of France -- the son of her mother's first husband. This would likely have raised objections from the church because of that relationship.

Returning to Europe, Joan married Raymond VI of Toulouse. Their son, Raymond VII, later succeeded his father. A daughter was born and died in 1198.

Pregnant for a third time and with her husband away, Joan barely escaped a rebellion on the part of the nobility. Because her brother Richard had just died, she could not seek his protection; instead, she made her way to Rouen where she found support from her mother.

Joan entered Fontevrault Abbey, where she died giving birth. She took the veil just before she died. The newborn son died a few days later. Joan was buried at Fontevrault Abbey.

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