Born in 1191, the illegitimate daughter of King John and a common-born woman named Clementina, it is thought that Joan spent her early years in Normandy. She was brought to England in 1203 prior to her marriage to the Welsh prince, Llewelyn the Great, in 1204.She was wed to this most formidable and famous of Welshmen when she was just thirteen. He was thirty-two.
Joan quickly became a confident, outspoken and passionate character amongst Llewelyn’s people, far different to most wives of the kings and princes of the time, who had little or nothing to do with politics or the government. Joan managed to win much of the land in Gwynedd under Llewelyn’s reign, rapidly making a name for herself within the political world at the time.
They had at least four children, the eldest of which was Gwladus Du (‘du’ means ‘the dark’) and Llewellyn already had several children by his Welsh mistress, Tangwistyl. It is uncertain whether he broke off relations with her when he wed Joan.
Although their marriage showed no troubles in the beginning, Joan betrayed Llewelyn with another man. Furious, Llewelyn had the culprit, William de Braose, hanged in a field behind the palace known as Garth Celyn in Abergwyngegyn, North Wales. In his heartbreak and outrage, Llewelyn imprisoned Joan in a tower, for twelve months. Llewelyn forgave her for her adultery and took her back as his wife. He restored her title as princess and once again she became the Lady of Wales.
Joan died in February 1237. In his grief, Llewelyn founded a Franciscan Friary near to the shore of Llanfaes, on the island of Angelsey, where he had Joan buried. From his castle on the mainland, he would have been able to look across the waters towards the Friary.
Joan’s Friary was destroyed in 1537 as part of Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries in Wales. Her tomb was desecrated by the English army and the whereabouts of the coffin were unknown for many years until it was found in the town of Beaumaris, where it had been used as a horse trough for some two hundred years. Today Joan’s huge stone coffin lies in the church porch at Beaumaris Church where flowers are still displayed to celebrate this great Welsh lady.
Princess Joan is one of the main characters in Another Kind of Magic. If you like swords and sorcery, witches, cats and magic, the third novel in the Caitlyn trilogy, Another Kind of Magic, is available now. Click here to select the bookstore of your choice.
The second novel in the Caitlyn trilogy is out now. You can obtain your copy here.
Three Bloody Pieces is still only 99c/99p, available from Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, GooglePlay Click here to select the bookstore of your choice.