The Death of a King

It is early October in the year of Our Lord 1285. To the north lies the immense and ever-expanding realm of the king of France; to the west Gascony, last remnant of the mighty Duchy of Aquitaine controlled by the English Crown; and to the south, beyond the forested slopes and rocky snow-capped peaks of […]

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Daddy’s Girl

The eldest daughter of Edward III and Philippa of Hainault was born at the royal palace of Woodstock on June 16th 1332. She was named Isabella after her paternal grandmother, Isabella of France. Isabella was the second of her parents’ many children and a first half-cousin once removed of Joan, the Fair Maid of Kent. […]

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Always wear your silk pyjamas!

On the night of the 22nd July 1338 the king of England, Edward III and his queen, Philippa of Hainault, suffered the indignity of being seen in their night attire by the townspeople of Antwerp. They would not, of course, have been wearing pyjamas as in the fourteenth century both men and women wore long […]

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Husband Number Two

William Montagu (Montacute or Montague or Monteacuto) was the second husband of Joan of Kent. The pair were married around January 1341. He was thirteen, probably a year younger than Joan. William was the son and heir of William Montagu, Earl of Salisbury who was one of the king’s closest friends. Young William’s mother was […]

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The Early Years

Joan would have spent the first two and a half years of her life in the care of nursemaids chosen for her by her mother, Margaret. As well as the nursemaids she would have had the company of her brother, Edmund who was probably the older of the two children. The children’s nursery may well […]

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A Royal Cousin

Once when I was too young to know better, I asked Lady la Mote if the king was my father. ‘Certainly not,’ she said, a flush creeping up from her wrinkly neck to the edges of her soft white veil. ‘He is your royal cousin.’ The flush deepened to cover the whole of her face […]

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Nine Months in the Womb ?

No birth certificate, no notice published in the local paper, no pink-edged cards of lace-trimmed cradles or storks bearing happy little bundles in their beaks; no announcement on Facebook, no Tweets; Joan’s birth wasn’t even mentioned by the chroniclers of the day. So how do we know when she was born?   The short answer is, we […]

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Who was the Fair Maid of Kent? Her name was Joan and she was born nearly 700 years ago. Fair?  She was fair in so far as she was “fair of face”. The chronicler Jean Froissart described her as “la plus belle dame de tout la roiaulme d’Engleterre” – the most beautiful woman in all the […]

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