Joan of Valois, Countess of Hainaut

Joan of Valois (c. 1294 – 7 March 1342) was a Countess consort of Hainaut, Holland, and Zeeland. She was the second eldest daughter of the French prince Charles, Count of Valois, and his first wife, Margaret, Countess of Anjou and Maine.[1] As the sister of King Philip VI of France and the mother-in-law of King Edward III of England,[2] she was ideally placed to act as mediator between them.[2]


Her paternal grandparents were King Philip III of France and Isabella of Aragon. Her maternal grandparents were King Charles II of Naples and Mary of Hungary. Joan was the second daughter of Count Charles of Valois and his first wife Catherine. In 1299, Joan's mother died, probably in childbirth, and her father married his second wife, Catherine I of Courtenay, Titular Empress of Constantinople, by whom he had four more children. He married his third wife, Mahaut of Châtillon, in 1308, and by her he sired a son and three daughters, among them Isabella of Valois, who became Duchess of Bourbon, and Blanche of Valois, who married Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor.

Countess of Hainaut

Joan married William I, Count of Hainaut,[3] on 23 May 1305. She was a supporter of her cousin, Isabella of France, Queen of England, in her struggle against her husband, King Edward II of England. In December 1325, Joan traveled to France to attend the funeral of her father and had talks with Queen Isabella and her brother, King Charles IV of France. This brought about an alliance between Hainaut, the Queen of England, and the English exiles, who were in opposition to the English king and his favorite, Hugh Despenser the Younger. Isabella's son, Edward of Windsor, became engaged to Joan's daughter, Philippa of Hainault, and Isabella raised an army in their lands. It was also from there that Isabella and her lover, Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March, began their invasion of England.

In 1332, after Joan's daughter Philippa had become queen, Joan arranged a wedding between Isabella's daughter Eleanor of Woodstock and Reginald II, Duke of Guelders, and she visited her daughter Philippa in England.[citation needed]


After her husband William I died in 1337, Joan took the veil and entered into Fontenelle Abbey in Maing. In 1340, her son-in-law King Edward III dealt her brother King Philip VI a heavy blow by defeating him at sea near Sluys. Edward III then went on to besiege Tournai, but was beset by financial problems. Pope Benedict XII thus asked Joan to mediate. She first went to her brother, whom she had begged for peace. Then she went to her son-in-law, in his tent, and begged him for peace as well. The pleas of their relative Joan, sent by the Pope, allowed the two Kings to sign a truce without loss of face.[4]


Joan's children with William I of Hainaut