My genealogical researches have uncovered dozens of devout ancestors. This is the ninth installment of a series of posts titled “Doing God’s Work: Our Families’ Faithful”, documenting the lives of those who served God.
In the previous post of this series, I discussed the life of Marie of Brabant (my 23rd great-grandmother), who entered monastic life after the death of her husband. In this post, I will discuss the life of my ancestress, Joan of Valois, who became a nun after her husband’s death.
On this day, 7 March 1342, Joan of Valois, Countess of Hainault, passed away. She was my 22nd great-grandmother through her grandson Thomas of Woodstock, my 23rd great-grandmother through her grandson Lionel of Antwerp, three-times 20th and three-times 21st great-grandmother through her grandson John of Gaunt, and my 21st great-grandmother through her grandson Edmund of Langley.
Born circa 1294, Joan of Valois was the second eldest daughter of Charles of Valois and Margaret of Anjou.
Although nothing has been found regarding her childhood, I do know that on 23 May 1305, Joan of Valois married William I of Hainault.
Together, the couple had the following children: William II, John, Margaret, Philippa (my 21st great-grandmother through Thomas of Woodstock, my 22nd great-grandmother through Lionel of Antwerp, my two-times 19th great-grandmother through John of Gaunt, and my 19th great-grandmother through Edmund of Langley), Agnes, Joanna, Isabella, and Louis.
Joan of Valois supported her cousin Isabella of France (my 22nd great-grandmother) in her struggle against her husband Edward II (my 22nd great-grandfather).
In December 1325, Joan of Valois traveled to France to attend the funeral of her father. While in France, Joan of Valois spoke at length with Isabella and her brother, Charles IV. An alliance was formed between those in opposition to Edward II and his favorite, Hugh le Despenser “The Younger” (my 22nd great-grandfather). It was during this time that Isabella and Roger Mortimer (my 21st great-grandfather) finalized their plans to invade England.
On 7 June 1337, William I of Hainault passed away. Soon after her husband died, Joan of Valois took the veil, entering Fontenelle Abbey, located in Maing, France.
In 1340, Joan of Valois’ son-in-law Edward III (my 21st great-grandfather through his son Thomas of Woodstock, my 22nd great-grandfather through his son Lionel of Antwerp of Clarence, my three-times 19th and three-times 20th great-grandfather through his son John of Gaunt, and my 20th great-grandfather through his son Edmund of Langley) defeated her brother Philip IV of France (my 22nd great-grandfather) at sea near Sluys, Belgium. Edward III then besieged Tournai, Belgium.
Pope Benedict XII requested that Joan of Valois mediate. Joan of Valois first pleaded for peace from Philip VI. She then visited Edward III, begging for pace. Her pleas and the Pope’s intercession resulted in a signed truce with no loss of honor on either part.
On 7 March 1342, Joan of Valois died at the Fontenelle Abbey.