Joan, or Joanna, of Navarre, was the Queen of England during the reign of King Henry IV. When she married Henry during the early 1400s, he already had children from a previous marriage — including his son Henry V, who would inherit the throne following his death. Henry V would prove to be a truly greedy king who had no qualms with targeting his own stepmother. He prosecuted her for witchcraft with the accusation that she’d used it to target him directly with malice. Through doing so, he was able to take possession of all of her wealth and property. It was easy for King Henry to go after the woman, for she was already not liked by the English. This was due to her being Spanish-Basque born. In their eyes, their queen was not true English royalty, and so when she was accused of using witchcraft to kill her stepson, her imprisonment was not met with opposition.
According to 15th century Parliamentary documents, a friar by the name of John Randolph confessed that he was an accomplice to Joan of Navarre when “She compassed and imagined the death and destruction of our lord the king in the most horrible manner that one could devise” by the use of sorcery. His confession sealed both his and Joan’s fate. Both were sentenced to life imprisonment, but Randolph would ultimately be murdered in captivity by the hands of a so-called “mad priest.” Joan, on the other hand, later found freedom when her stepson eventually had an apparent change of heart. Henry V ordered the release of his stepmother shortly before his death, and she was fortunate enough to live out the rest of her life quietly and without any further accusations of witchcraft.
Genealogy of Joan of Navarre
At the time of her death Joan had issued nine known natural children, through which her genealogy is well-documented. However, some of those children did not live beyond childhood. Today, she has several hundred — possibly over a thousand — living descendants. The children of Joan who did survive to produce their own children are as follows:
- John V, Duke of Brittany, who fathered seven children
- Marie of Nantes, who mothered five children
- Margaret, who mothered nine children
- Arthur III, Duke of Brittany, who fathered one illegitimate daughter named Jacqueline
- Richard, Count of Étampes, who fathered seven children
- Blanche, who mothered one daughter named Bonne.
Due to this being a thoroughly-documented royal bloodline, it would be impossible to list the several hundreds of surnames that could be associated with the descent from Joan of Navarre. However, if you’re already researching your own family tree, and are able to connect an ancestor to a royal bloodline, it should be a breeze to figure out from there if you are a descendant Joan’s.
The Captivity of a Royal Witch: The Household Accounts of Queen Joan of Navarre; A. R. Myers; University of Liverpool