Come, sit by the fire, remember though, that you didn’t hear it from me. I don’t want to get my head lopped off a second time.
As I mentioned before, Joan of Navarre was the second wife of Henry IV of England. In 1419, after her husband’s death, she was immediately accused of practicing witchcraft. Like she didn’t have enough to deal with. Unfortunately for the women of the 15th century, women were merely child-bearers or decorations for the men in power. If you were intelligent, brave, and had power on your own, you must be a witch. Wait, I still get called a witch, but I chose to take it as a compliment. Ok back to Joan, and her life.
She was seen as a threat to the new king. Henry V. Charges were dropped and she was released from prison after several years. Despite there being no evidence that she was actually a witch, they couldn’t even make stuff up
The accusations were based on the testimony of her confessor, Brother John Randolph, who claimed that she tried to use sorcery to kill the king. However, Randolph’s later retracted, and it is believed that he made the accusations under duress. We already know that torture was a thing back then, except for the Iron Maiden. I’ve been haunting the tower on and off for centuries, and I can attest that the only Iron Maidens I’ve ever seen were on the sheaves of young scholars.
It is more likely that Joan of Navarre was accused of witchcraft because she was a powerful woman who had influence in court. Is anyone else shocked by this? No, me either. In the fifteenth century, women who were seen as being too powerful were often accused of witchcraft. This was a way of controlling them and keeping them in their place. Has it changed?
Joan was able to escape the executioner’s blade, but her every move was scrutinized, leaving her vulnerable and in danger.
Seems that women weren’t safe doing anything during that period in history. If you would like to do some further research, check out the sources below. Don’t take my word for it. I’ve been floating around without my body for centuries.
- Joan of Navarre: Queen of England and Witch by Anne O’Brien
- The History of Witchcraft in England by Jeffrey B. Russell
- The Witchcraft Trials of Joan of Navarre by Christine Peters
Stay tuned, as we will be discussing Eleanor Cobham, the Duchess of Gloucester, next time on Jangles with Jane.
Jane, The Lady Rochford.