FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ.
Queens of England. Vol.1.
crown would be shared by the widowed Duchess of Brittany, Joanna of Navarre.
As Duke John was the sworn friend and faithful ally of Richard the Second, King of England, certainly nothing short of the all-powerful influence of his beloved Duchess could have prevailed upon him to receive his nephew, Henry of Lancaster, with open arras, and furnish him with the means of the invasion of England. But whether it was a presentiment that Lancaster would ere long be her husband, or any other less potent consideration, that induced Joanna to procure for him the friendship and support of the Duke of Brittany, is nowhere recorded.
Shortly after the departure of Lancaster from Brittanv, Duke John died rather suddenly. His fatal illness, although short, was so severely painful, that the Breton chroniclers attribute his death to either poison or sorcery. He expired on the first of November, 1399, at the castle of Nantes, and in the presence of his affectionate wife Joanna, who soothed him in his dying moments, mourned his loss with bitter grief, and followed his remains to their final resting-place, the cathedral church of Nantes, where his effigy, in complete marble, may still be seen.
By his wTill Duke John appointed Jo
anna one of his executors, and regent
during the minority of his heir, John de
Montford. Immediately on assuming
the regency, Joanna made overtures of
peace to Clisson and the other malcon
tent Breton nobles, and after much né
gociation a reconciliation was effected,
and Clisson and his partizans, together
with the other nobles and knights of
Brittany, swore aUegiance to Joanna as
regent during the minority of their young
Duke, her son John. This arrangement
was effected in January, 1400, and to
wards the close of March in the subse
quent year, Joanna put her youthful heir
in possession of the duchy. The young
Duke, then only in his twelfth year, was
solemnly inaugurated in the presence of
a brilliant assemblage of magnates and
prelates in the cathedral at Rheims. On
the day before he was invested with the
circlet and ducal sword. Clisson conferred on him the honour of knighthood, and immediately afterwards he knighted his younger brothers Arthur and Jules, the latter of whom was so young, that he could scarcely walk alone.
The inauguration of Duke John whilst yet a minor, startled the courts of Brittany and Eranco. But Joanna's reasons for thus early relinquishing the regency could not long he kept a secret. Henry of Lancaster had succeeded in his bold enterprise, and ascended the throne of England as Henry the Fourth, and being a widower (death had deprived him of his first wife, Mary de Bohun, in 1394), he made proposais of marriage to Joanna of Navarre. These proposals were received with extreme pleasure by the widowed Duchess. Only a religious obstacle stood in the way of the match, and this was speedily removed by the tact and discretion of Joanna. Henry the Fourth, being a Wicklitfitc at heart, favoured the antipope, Boniface, and as Joanna supported the orthodox pope, Benedict, she kept the intended union a profound secret till she had obtained a bull from Benedict to marry any person she pleased in the fourth degree of consanguinity. This bull was obtained on the twentieth of March, 1402, and immediately afterwards the marriage articles were signed, and on the third of April Joanna was betrothed by proxy to Henry the Fourth, at the palace of Eltham. The betrothmcnt was performed in the presence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Earl of Worcester, the Lord Chamberlain, and other court and state personages. After the King, the Archbishop, and others were arranged, Joanna's proxy,
Antony Ricze, entered, and taking his
place, read aloud a letter from the
Duchess, authorizing him to act for her j
he then took a solemn oath that Joanna
was free to marry whom she pleased, re
ceived the troth-plight from the King,
who placed the bridal ring on his finger,
and afterwards said :
" I, Antony Ricze, in the person of
my worshipful Lady, Dame Joanna, the
daughter of the late King Charles the
Second of Navarre, Duchess of Brittany,
and Countess of Richmond, take you,
Henry of Lancaster, King of England