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Joan Beaufort, Queen of Scots

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Joan Beaufort (c. 1404 – 15 July 1445) was the Queen 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.

Joan Beaufort
Joan Beaufort
Queen consort of Scotland
Tenure2 February 1424 – 21 February 1437
Bornc. 1404
Died(1445-07-15)15 July 1445 (aged c. 41)
Dunbar Castle, East Lothian
BurialPerth Charterhouse
James I, King of Scotland
(m. 1424; died 1437)

IssueMargaret, Dauphine of France
Isabella, Duchess of Brittany
Eleanor, Archduchess of Austria
Mary, Countess of Buchan
Joan, Countess of Morton
James II, King of Scotland
Alexander, Duke of Rothesay
Annabella, Countess of Huntly
John, 1st Earl of Atholl
James, 1st Earl of Buchan
Andrew, Bishop of Moray
FatherJohn Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset
MotherMargaret Holland
ReligionRoman Catholic


Background and early lifeEdit

Joan Beaufort was a daughter of John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset, a legitimated son of John of Gaunt by his mistress (and later wife) Kathryn Swynford.[1] Joan's mother was Margaret Holland,[2] the granddaughter of Joan of Kent (wife of Edward the Black Prince) from her marriage to Thomas Holland, 1st Earl of Kent. Joan was also a half-niece of King Henry IV of England, great-niece of Richard II and great grand-daughter of Edward III. Her uncle, Henry Beaufort, was a cardinal and Chancellor of England.[3]

King James I of Scotland met Joan during his time as a prisoner in England, and knew her from at least 1420.[2] She is said to have been the inspiration for King James' famous long poem, The Kingis Quair, written during his captivity, after he saw her from his window in the garden.[4] The marriage was at least partially political, as their marriage was part of the agreement for his release from captivity. From an English perspective an alliance with the Beauforts was meant to establish his country's alliance with the English, rather than the French.[2] Negotiations resulted in Joan's dowry of 10,000 merks being subtracted from James's substantial ransom.[5]

Queen of ScotlandEdit

On 12 February 1424, Joan Beaufort and King James were wed at St Mary Overie Church in Southwark.[2][6] 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.[7]

The royal couple had eight children, including the future James II, and Margaret of Scotland, future spouse of Louis XI of France.[2]


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 survive her injuries.[2] 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.[2] The prospect of being ruled by an English woman was unpopular in Scotland.[2] The Earl of Douglas was thus appointed to power, though Joan remained in charge of her son.[2]

Near the end of July 1439, she married James Stewart, the Black Knight of Lorne[2] 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.[citation needed] Livingston arrested Joan in August 1439 and forced her to relinquish custody of the young king.[2] In 1445, the conflict between the Douglas/Livingston faction and the queen's supporters resumed, and she was under siege at Dunbar Castle by the Earl of Douglas when she died on 15 July 1445. She was buried in the Carthusian Priory at Perth.[2][6]

Issue with James I of ScotlandEdit

Issue with James Stewart, the Black Knight of LorneEdit



  1. ^ "James I and Joan Beaufort: A Royal Love Story". History... the interesting bits!. 2015-03-31. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Brown 2004.
  3. ^ "James I and Joan Beaufort: A Royal Love Story". History... the interesting bits!. 2015-03-31. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
  4. ^ Marshall 2003, pp. 49–50.
  5. ^ Marshall 2003, pp. 50–51.
  6. ^ a b c Weir 2008, p. 232.
  7. ^ Marshall 2003, pp. 51–52.
  8. ^ Marshall 2003, p. 50.
  9. ^ Weir 2008, pp. 94, 125.
  10. ^ a b c Weir 2008, p. 93.
  11. ^ Weir 2007, p. 6.
  12. ^ a b c Weir 2008, p. 125.
  13. ^ a b c Weir 2008, p. 77.
  14. ^ a b Weir 2008, p. 92.
  15. ^ a b Browning 1898, p. 288.
  16. ^ a b Weir 2008, pp. 94–95.
  17. ^ a b Weir 2008, pp. 97, 104.


  • Brown, M.H. (2004). "Joan [Joan Beaufort] (d. 1445)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/14646. Retrieved 21 November 2013. (subscription required)
  • Browning, Charles H. (1898). The Magna Carta Barons and Their American Descendants. London: Genealogical Publishing Company.
  • Marshall, Rosalind (2003). Scottish Queens, 1034–1714. Tuckwell Press.
  • Weir, Alison (2008). Britain's Royal Families, The Complete Genealogy. London: Vintage Books. ISBN 978-0-09-953973-5.
  • Weir, Alison (2007). Mistress of the Monarchy: The Life of Katherine Swynford, Duchess of Lancaster. London: Random House. ISBN 978-0-345-45323-5.
Scottish royalty
Title last held by
Anabella Drummond
Queen consort of Scotland
Title next held by
Mary of Guelders