Catherine of Valois

Female 1401 - 1437  (35 years)


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  • Name Catherine of Valois 
    Born 27 Oct 1401  Paris, France Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Female 
    Died 03 Jan 1437  London, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried Westminster Abbey Cemetery, Westminster, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I725  King of Scots
    Last Modified 13 Feb 2009 

    Father Charles V King of France,   b. 03 Dec 1368, Paris, France Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 21 Oct 1422, Paris, France Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 53 years) 
    Mother Isabeau of Bavaria (Queen of France),   b. 1370,   d. 24 Sep 1435, Paris, France Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 65 years) 
    Family ID F294  Group Sheet

    Family 1 Henry V Bolingbroke (King of England, Prince Regent of France, Lord Of Ireland),   b. 16 Sep 1386, Monmouth Castle Monmouth, Monmouthshire, Wales Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 31 Aug 1422, Bois de Vincennes, Vincennes, France Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 35 years) 
    Children 
     1. Henry VI King of England, King of France, Lord Of Ireland,   b. 06 Dec 1421, Windsor Castle Windsor, Berkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 21 May 1471, Tower of London London, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 49 years)
    Last Modified 13 Feb 2009 
    Family ID F293  Group Sheet

    Family 2 Owen Tudor,   b. 1385,   d. 02 Feb 1461  (Age 76 years) 
    Children 
    +1. Edmund Tudor (1st Earl of Richmond),   b. 1431, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 01 Nov 1456, Carmarthen, Carmarthenshire, Wales Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 25 years)
     2. Jasper Tudor (1st Duke of Bedford),   b. 1431,   d. Dec 1495, Keynsham Abbey Keynsham, Somerset, England Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 64 years)
    Last Modified 13 Feb 2009 
    Family ID F295  Group Sheet

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 27 Oct 1401 - Paris, France Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 03 Jan 1437 - London, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - - Westminster Abbey Cemetery, Westminster, London, England Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Maps 
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Photos
    Catherine of Valois
    Catherine of Valois
    Personal Collection

  • Notes 
    • Catherine of Valois (27 October 1401 ? 3 January 1437) was the Queen consort of England from 1420 until 1422. She was the daughter of King Charles VI of France, wife of King Henry V of England, mother of King Henry VI of England, and through her secret marriage with Owen Tudor, the grandmother of King Henry VII of England. Catherine's older sister, Isabella of Valois, was Queen consort of England from 1396 ? 1400, as the child bride of King Richard II of England.

      Catherine was buried at Westminster Abbey, and during the reign of Henry VII her coffin lid was accidentally raised, revealing her corpse, which for generations became a tourist attraction; Catherine's remains were not properly re-interred until the reign of Queen Victoria.

      Summary of Catherine
      Catherine of Valois was the daughter of King Charles VI of France and his wife Isabelle of Bavaria. She was born at the Hotel of St. Pol (a royal palace in Paris) on October 27, 1401. Early on there had been a discussion of marrying her to the son of Henry IV, but the King died before negotiations could begin. The new king, Henry V, also proposed the match, but demanded a large dowry and acknowledgement of his right to the throne of France.

      Henry V went to war with France and even after the English victory at Agincourt, plans for the marriage continued. Catherine was said to be very attractive and when Henry finally met her at Meulan he became enamored. In May 1420, a peace treaty was made between England and France and Charles acknowledged Henry of England as his heir. Catherine and Henry were married at the parish Church of St. John.

      Catherine went to England with her new husband and was crowned as Queen in Westminster Abbey in February 1421. In June 1421, Henry returned to France to continue his campaigns.

      By this time, Catherine was several months pregnant and gave birth to Prince Henry on December 6, 1421 at Windsor. The boy and his father would never see each other. During the siege of Meaux, Henry V contracted a fatal illness and died on August 31, 1422, just before he would have turned 35 years old. Catherine was not quite 21 and was left a widow and Dowager Queen of England.

      Charles VI died a couple of months after Henry V, which made the young Henry VI king of both England and France. Catherine doted on her young son during his early childhood.

      However, Catherine was still young and might wish to remarry, which was of concern to the Protector, the king's uncle, Henry Duke of Gloucester. In the Parliament of 1427-8, a bill was introduced setting the rules for the remarriage of a Queen Dowager. The bill stated that if the Queen and a new husband married without the King's consent, the husband would lose his lands and possessions, although any children from the marriage would still be members of the royal family and would not suffer punishment. Another rule was that the king's permission could only be granted once he had reached his majority. At the time the bill was written, the king was only six years old.

      Catherine lived in the king's household, presumably so she could care for her young son, but it also carried the benefit that the councillors could watch over the Queen herself.

      Despite all of this, Catherine entered into a relationship with Owen ap Maredudd ap Tudur of Wales. There are many tales, most unsupported, of how Catherine and Own met. Owen was probably born in about 1400, and may have gone to war in the service of Henry V's steward Sir Walter Hungerford in 1421 in France. Tudor was most likely appointed keeper of the Queen's household or wardrobe. The relationship began when Catherine lived at Windsor Castle, and she became pregnant with their first child there. At some point, she stopped living in the King's household and in May 1432 Parliament granted Owen the rights of an Englishman. This was important because of Henry IV's laws limiting the rights of Welshmen.

      It is unclear whether Catherine and Owen Tudor actually married. No documentation of such a marriage exists. Moreover, even if they had been married, the question exists whether the marriage would have been lawful, given the Act of 1428. From the relationship of Owen Tudor and Queen Catherine descended Henry VII of England and the Tudor Dynasty. Tudor historians asserted that Owen and Catherine had been married, for their lawful marriage was a vital link in the argument for the legitimacy of the Tudor dynasty.

      Owen and Catherine had at least four children, although their only known daughter died young (four named later in this article, three living to adulthood). Edmund, Jasper and Owen, the three sons born to the couple, were all born away from court.

      Catherine entered Bermondsey Abbey, possibly seeking a cure for an illness that had troubled her for some time. She made her will just three days before her death on January 3, 1437. She now rests at Westminster Abbey in Henry V's Chantry Chapel.

      After the Queen's death, Owen and Catherine's enemies decided to proceed against Owen for violating the law of the remarriage of the Dowager Queen. Owen appeared before the Council, acquitting himself of all charges and was released. On his way back to Wales, he was arrested and his possessions seized. He tried to escape from Newgate jail in early 1438 and eventually ended up at Windsor Castle in July of that year.

      Meanwhile, Owen and Catherine's two older sons, Edmund and Jasper, were sent to live with Catherine de la Pole, who was abbess of Barking and sister to the Earl of Suffolk. Sometime after 1442, the King (their half-brother) took a role in their upbringing. Owen, their father, was eventually released on £2000 bail, but was pardoned in November 1439 (and the bail canceled in 1440). Owen was treated well afterwards and was in the household of the King until the mid-1450s.

      Second Marriage
      At Wallingford Castle, she turned for comfort to Owen Tudor, a direct descendant of Rhys Ap Gruffydd (a ruler of the kingdom of Deheubarth in South Wales), who would become the founding father of the Tudor dynasty. In 1428, Parliament reacted to the rumours about this relationship by forbidding Queens Dowager from marrying without the King's permission. Nevertheless, Catherine and Owen defied this law by marrying secretly, most probably in 1431-32 (see R.A. Griffiths The Reign of King Henry VI pp.60-62), and are recorded as having at least 6 children together:

      Owen Tudor (1429-1501). He was a monk at Westminster.
      Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond (1430 - November 1, 1456), married Lady Margaret Beaufort. Father of King Henry VII.
      Jasper Tudor, 1st Duke of Bedford (1431 - December 21/26, 1495), married Katherine Woodville, daughter to Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers and Jacquetta of Luxembourg. No issue. He did have two illegitimate children.
      Daughter Mary Tudor born (1432). She married Thomas Gray (1430-1501); they had a daughter Jane Gray (1475-1509)--Note: This was an earlier "Mary Tudor" than Henry VIII's sister; and an earlier Jane Gray with different spelling of last name, than the 16th-century Lady Jane Grey. Jane Gray b. 1475, had a daughter Jane Mercer, and a granddaughter Jane Wilkinson. Ref. below: OneWorld Tree of ancestry.com
      Jacina Tudor (1433 - 1469).
      Daughter Tudor. (born c. 1435) She became a nun.
      Margaret (Katherine) Tudor (born January 1437). Died young.

      [edit] Death and burial
      Catherine died on January 3, 1437, shortly after childbirth, in London, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. Her second husband, Owen Tudor, was arrested on unspecified charges shortly after her death, but later released. He lived until 1461, when he was executed by the Yorkists following the Battle of Mortimer's Cross. Their sons were given Earldoms by Catherine's son King Henry VI. Edmund married a lady of Royal descent with their son eventually becoming King Henry VII.

      The wooden funeral effigy which was carried at her funeral still survives at Westminster Abbey and is on display at the Undercroft Museum. Her tomb originally boasted an alabaster memorial, which was deliberately destroyed during extensions to the abbey in the reign of her grandson, Henry VII. It has been suggested that Henry ordered her memorial to be removed to distance himself from his common ancestry. At this time, her coffin lid was accidentally raised, revealing her corpse, which for generations became a tourist attraction. In 1669 the diarist Samuel Pepys kissed the long-deceased queen on his birthday:

      On Shrove Tuesday 1669, I to the Abbey went, and by favour did see the body of Queen Catherine of Valois, and had the upper part of the body in my hands, and I did kiss her mouth, reflecting upon it I did kiss a Queen: and this my birthday and I thirty-six years old and I did kiss a Queen.

      ? Samuel Pepys

      Catherine's remains were not properly re-interred until the reign of Queen Victoria.

      External links
      Mary Tudor b. 1432: With sourced Ancestry of Owen Tudor, as daughter of Owen Tudor and Catherine De Valois; and Mary Tudor's daughter Jane Gray lived 1475-1509, earlier Jane than Jane Grey who was granddaughter of the later Mary Tudor, sister of Henry VIII) at http://trees.ancestry.com/pt/person.aspx?tid=3071280&pid=-1716367594
      Heidi Murphy Catherine of Valois (1401-1437)

      [edit] References

      [edit] Historical fiction
      Catherine of Valois is the subject of Rosemary Hawley Jarman's novel "Crown in Candlelight" (1978)
      In the book, "The Queen's Secret" by Jean Plaidy, Catherine is the title character.
      William Shakespeare's play Henry V depicts Catherine of Valois' marriage to Henry V of England after the Battle of Agincourt.
      Dedwydd Jones' novel, published in 2002, "The Lily and the Dragon", tells the story of Owain Tudor and Catherine of Valois.
      Vanora Bennet has a book due out in 2009 based on Catherine's life, "Blood Royal'.


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