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Joan of England

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Template:Plantagenets

Joan Plantagenet (October, 1165 - 4 September, 1199) was the eighth child of King Henry II of England and his Queen consort, Eleanor of Aquitaine. She was born in Angers.

Joan was a younger maternal half-sister of Marie de Champagne and Alix of France. She was a younger sister of William, Count of Poitiers, Henry the Young King, Matilda of England, Richard I of England, Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany and Leonora of Aquitaine. She was also an older sister of John of England.

Joan spent her youth at her mother's courts at Winchester and Poitiers before leaving in 1176 for her wedding in Sicily. On 13 February, 1177, she married William II of Sicily and was crowned Queen of Sicily at Palermo Cathedral. They had one son, who died in infancy. Following William's death in 1189, she was kept a prisoner by the new king, Tancred of Sicily. Finally, her brother Richard I of England arrived in Italy in 1190, on the way to the Holy Land. He demanded her return, along with every penny of her dowry. When Tancred balked at these demands, Richard seized a monastery and the castle of La Bagnara. He decided to spend the winter in Italy and attacked and subdued the city of Messina. Finally, Tancred agreed to the terms and sent Joan's dowry. In March 1191 Eleanor of Aquitaine arrived in Messina with Richard's bride, Berengaria.

Eleanor returned to England, leaving Berengaria in Joan's care. Richard decided to postpone his wedding, put his sister and bride on a ship, and set sail. Two days later the fleet was hit by a fierce storm, destroying several ships and blew Joan and Berengaria's ship off course. Richard landed safely in Crete, but they were stranded near Cyprus. The self-appointed despot of Cyprus, Isaac Comnenus was just about to capture them when Richard's fleet suddenly appeared. The princesses were saved, but the despot made off with Richard's treasure. Richard pursued and captured Isaac, threw him into a dungeon, and sent Joan and Berengaria on to Acre.

Joan was Richard's favorite sister, but he was not above using her as a bargaining chip in his political schemes. He even suggested marrying her to Saladin's brother, Safadin, and making them joint rulers of Jerusalem. This plan fell apart when Joan refused to marry a Muslim and Safadin refused to marry a Christian. His ally, King Philip II of France expressed some interest in marrying her, but this too fell apart. Instead Joan was married in 1196 to Raymond VI of Toulouse. She was the mother of his successor Raymond VII of Toulouse (1197-1249).

This new husband treated her none too gently, however, and Joan came to fear him and his knights. In 1199, while pregnant with a second child, Joan was left to face a rebellion alone. Joan fled to her mother Queen Eleanor's court at Rouen, where she was offered refuge and care in her illness. Joan asked to be admitted to Fontevrault Abbey, an unusual request for a married, pregnant woman, but this request was granted. She died in childbirth and was veiled a nun on her deathbed. Her son lived just long enough to be baptised (he was named Richard). Joan was thirty-three years old. She was buried at Fontevrault Abbey, and fifty years later her son Raymond VII would be interred next to her.

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