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Joan Beaufort, Queen of Scotland


Joan Beaufort, Queen of Scotland

Joan Beaufort
Joan Beaufort
Queen consort of Scotland
Tenure 2 February 1424 – 21 February 1437
Spouse James I of Scotland (m. 1424-1437)
James Stewart, the Black Knight of Lorn (m. 1439-1445)
Margaret, Dauphine of France
Isabella, Duchess of Brittany
Eleanor, Archduchess of Austria
Mary, Countess of Buchan
Joan, Countess of Morton
James II of Scotland
Alexander, Duke of Rothesay
Annabella, Countess of Huntly
John, 1st Earl of Atholl
James, 1st Earl of Buchan
Andrew Stewart, Bishop of Moray
House House of Beaufort
Father John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset
Mother Margaret Holland
Born c. 1404
Died 15 July 1445(1445-07-15) (aged c. 41)
Dunbar Castle, East Lothian
Burial Perth Charterhouse

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

Background and early life

She was a daughter of John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset, and Margaret Holland, and a half-niece of King Henry IV of England. Joan was named after her aunt, Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland. James of Scotland fell in love with her during his time as a prisoner in England (1406–1424). She is said to have been the inspiration for James's famous long poem, The Kingis Quair, written in his captivity after he saw her from his window in the garden. The powerful Beauforts put pressure on Henry V to release him so they could get married. However, James was a useful prisoner to use against the Scots, so Henry did not allow his ransom. Queen Catherine also urged him to do so.[1] Negotiations were held after Henry V's death, and it was decided that her dowry would be subtracted from his ransom.

Queen of Scotland

On 2 February 1424 at Southwark Priory (now Southwark Cathedral), Joan married James I. They were feasted at Winchester Palace that year by her uncle Cardinal Henry Beaufort. She joined her husband on his return from captivity to Scotland that year. At his coronation at Scone, when James received the allegiance of his Tenants-in-chief, he had them swear their allegiance to Joan as well, as if she was a co-monarch. As queen, she often pleaded with the king for those who might be executed.[2]

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


After James I was assassinated at the Dominican Friary in Perth in 1437, Joan took over the regency for her son: she had also been a target of assassination along with her husband, but escaped, injured, from the place where it happened. She took custody of her son, now James II, and assumed the regency. The prospect of being ruled by an English woman was unpopular and the Earl of Douglas was thus appointed co-regent. She held the side of Robert II's family responsible for murdering James I, protecting her and her son's position. She was regent for two years. To avoid the dominance of William Crichton, Joan left Edinburgh for Stirling Castle and the protection of Alexander Livingston. When Crichton and Livingston made peace, she allied herself with Sir James Stewart, the Black Knight of Lorn.

On 21 September 1439, she married Stewart 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 of Scotland. Livingston arrested Joan on 3 Aug 1439, imprisoned her in Stirling castle and threw James and his brother William into its dungeon. James and William were later released on parole. Joan was released after her resignation as regent. She died in 1445 and was buried alongside her husband in the Carthusian Priory at Perth, which he had founded. The royal tomb was destroyed, along with the other religious houses of Perth, at the time of the Scottish Reformation in 1559.

Issue with James I of Scotland

Second Marriage and issue

In 1439 Joan married James Stewart, the Black Knight of Lorne (c.1383 – aft. 1451). They had three children:




  1. [unreliable source] Alison Weir, Britain's Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy (London, U.K.: The Bodley Head, 1999), page 230. Hereinafter cited as Britain's Royal Family.
  2. Bruce A. McAndrew, Scotland's Historic Heraldry (Woodbridge, Suffolk, U.K : Boydell Press, 2006) page 205
  3. Edward Kimber & John Almon, The Peerage of Scotland (London, U.K: Piccadilly, 1767), page 340.
  • pages 461 & 486
  • Knut Haeger: Skotsk krönika (A Scottish Chronicle), Stockholm (1982) ISBN 91-20-06736-4 (Swedish)
  • Marshall, Rosalind (2003) Scottish Queens, 1034-1714. Tuckwell Press.
Scottish royalty
Preceded by
Anabella Drummond
Queen consort of Scotland
Succeeded by
Mary of Guelders
Preceded by
Marie de Coucy
Queen mother
Succeeded by
Mary of Guelders
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