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Joan of Acre, Countess of Gloucester & Hertford

Birthplace: Acre, Kingdom of Acre
Death: Died in Clare Castle, Clare, Suffolk, England
Cause of death: possibly died in childbirth
Place of Burial: Priory Church of the Augustine Friars, Clare, Suffolk, England
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Edward I "Longshanks", King of England and Eleanor of Castile, Queen consort of England
Wife of Sir Gilbert De Clare, 3rd Earl of Gloucester; Gilbert de Clare, 7th Earl of Gloucester and Ralph, 1st Baron Monthermer
Mother of Eleanor De Clare; Gilbert de Clare, 8th Earl of Gloucester; Eleanor de Clare, Baroness Despenser; Margaret de Clare, Countess of Gloucester; Elizabeth de Clare and 5 others
Sister of Stillborn Daughter Plantagenet of England, Princess; Katherine Plantagenet, Princess of England; Eleanor of England, Countess of Bar; Joanna Plantagenet; John Plantagenet and 13 others
Half sister of Thomas of Brotherton, 1st Earl o Norfolk; Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent and Eleanor Plantagenet

Managed by: Ofir Friedman
Last Updated:

About Joan of Acre

Joan of Acre

Joan of Acre (April 1272 – 23 April 1307) was an English princess, a daughter of King Edward I of England and Queen Eleanor of Castile.[2] The name "Acre" derives from her birthplace in the Holy Land while her parents were on a crusade.

She was married twice; her first husband was Gilbert de Clare, 7th Earl of Gloucester, one of the most powerful nobles in her father's kingdom; her second husband was Ralph de Monthermer, a squire in her household whom she married in secret.

Joan is most notable for the claim that miracles have allegedly taken place at her grave, and for the multiple references to her in literature.

Joan (or Joanna, as she is sometimes called) of Acre was born in the spring of 1272 in the Kingdom of Acre, Outremer, now in modern Israel, while her parents, Edward I and Eleanor of Castile, were on crusade.[3] At the time of Joan's birth, her grandfather, Henry III, was still alive and thus her father was not yet king of England. Her parents departed from Acre shortly after her birth, traveling to Sicily and Spain[4] before leaving Joan with Eleanor's mother, Joan, Countess of Ponthieu, in France.[5] Joan lived for several years in France where she spent her time being educated by a bishop and “being thoroughly spoiled by an indulgent grandmother.”[6] Joan was free to play among the “vine clad hills and sunny vales”[7] surrounding her grandmother’s home, although she required “judicious surveillance.”[8]

As Joan was growing up with her grandmother, her father was back in England, already arranging marriages for his daughter. He hoped to gain both political power and more wealth with his daughter's marriage, so he conducted the arrangement in a very “business like style”.[9] He finally found a man suitable to marry Joan (aged 5 at the time), Hartman, son of King Rudoph I, of Germany. Edward then brought her home from France for the first time to meet him.[10] As she had spent her entire life away from Edward and Eleanor, when she returned she “stood in no awe of her parents”[6] and had a fairly distanced relationship with them.

Unfortunately for King Edward, his daughter’s suitor died before he was able to meet or marry Joan. The news reported that Hartman had fallen through a patch of shallow ice while “amusing himself in skating” while a letter sent to the King himself stated that Hartman had set out on a boat to visit his father amidst a terrible fog and the boat had smashed into a rock, drowning him.[11]

Edward arranged a second marriage almost immediately after the death of Hartman.[12] Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, who was almost thirty years older than Joan and newly divorced, was his first choice.[13] The earl resigned his lands to Edward upon agreeing to get them back when he married Joan, as well as agreed on a dower of two thousand silver marks.[14] By the time all of these negotiations were finished, Joan was twelve years old.[14] Gilbert de Clare became very enamored with Joan, and even though she had to marry him regardless of how she felt, he still tried to woo her.[15] He bought her expensive gifts and clothing to try to win favor with her.[16] The couple were married on 30 April 1290 at Westminster Abbey, and had four children together.[17] They were:

  • Gilbert de Clare, 7th Earl of Hertford
  • Eleanor de Clare
  • Margaret de Clare
  • Elizabeth de Clare

Joan's first husband, Gilbert de Clare died on 7 December 1295.[18]

Joan had been a widow for only a little over a year when she caught the eye of Ralph de Monthermer, a squire in Joan’s father’s household.[19] Joan fell in love and convinced her father to have Monthermer knighted. It was unheard of in European royalty for a noble lady to even converse with a man who had not won or acquired importance in the household. However, in January 1297 Joan secretly married [20] Ralph. Joan's father was already planning another marriage for Joan to Amadeus V, Count of Savoy,[20] to occur 16 March 1297. Joan was in a dangerous predicament, as she was already married, unbeknownst to her father.

Joan sent her four young children to their grandfather, in hopes that their sweetness would win Edward's favor, but her plan did not work.[21] The king soon discovered his daughter's intentions, but not yet aware that she had already committed to them,[18] he seized Joan’s lands and continued to arrange her marriage to Amadeus of Savoy.[17] Soon after the seizure of her lands, Joan told her father that she had married Ralph. The king was enraged and retaliated by immediately imprisoning Monthermer at Bristol Castle.[17] The people of the land had differing opinions on the princess’ matter. It has been argued that the ones who were most upset were those who wanted Joan’s hand in marriage.[22]

With regard to the matter, Joan famously said, “It is not considered ignominious, nor disgraceful for a great earl to take a poor and mean woman to wife; neither, on the other hand, is it worthy of blame, or too difficult a thing for a countess to promote to honor a gallant youth.”[23] Joan's statement in addition to a possibly obvious pregnancy seemed to soften Edward’s attitude towards the situation.[22] Joan's first child by Monthermer was born in October 1297; by the summer of 1297, when the marriage was revealed to Edward I, Joan's condition would certainly have been apparent, and would have convinced Edward that he had no choice but to recognize his daughter's marriage. Edward I eventually relented for the sake of his daughter and released Monthermer from prison in August 1297.[17] Monthermer paid homage 2 August, and being granted the titles of Earl of Gloucester and Earl of Hertford, he rose to favour with the King during Joan's lifetime.[24]

Monthermer and Joan had four children:

  • Mary de Monthermer, born October 1297. In 1306 her grandfather King Edward I arranged for her to wed Duncan Macduff, 8th Earl of Fife.
  • Joan de Monthermer, born 1299, became a nun at Amesbury.
  • Thomas de Monthermer, 2nd Baron Monthermer, born 1301.
  • Edward de Monthermer, born 1304 and died 1339.

Joan of Acre was the seventh of Edward I and Eleanor’s fourteen children. Most of her older siblings died before the age of seven, and many of her younger siblings died before adulthood.[25] Those who survived to adulthood were Joan, her younger brother, Edward of Caernarfon (later Edward II), and four of her sisters: Eleanor, Margaret, Mary, and Elizabeth.[26]

Joan, like her siblings, was raised outside her parents' household. She lived with her grandmother in Ponthieu for four years, and was then entrusted to the same caregivers who looked after her siblings.[27] Edward I did not have a close relationship with most of his children while they were growing up, yet “he seemed fonder of his daughters than his sons.”[26]

However, Joan of Acre’s independent nature caused numerous conflicts with her father. Her father disapproved of her leaving court after her marriage to the Earl of Gloucester, and in turn “seized seven robes that had been made for her.”[28] He also strongly disapproved of her second marriage to Ralph de Monthermer, a squire in her household, even to the point of attempting to force her to marry someone else.[28][29] While Edward ultimately developed a cordial relationship with Monthermer, even giving him the title of Earl,[28] there appears to have been a notable difference in the Edward’s treatment of Joan as compared to the treatment of the rest of her siblings. For instance, her father famously paid messengers substantially when they brought news of the birth of grandchildren, but did not do this upon birth of Joan’s daughter.[30]

In terms of her siblings, Joan kept a fairly tight bond. She and Monthermer both maintained a close relationship with her brother, Edward, which was maintained through letters. After Edward became estranged from his father and lost his royal seal, “ Joan offered to lend him her seal” .[31]

Joan died on 23 April 1307, at the manor of Clare in Suffolk.[24] The cause of her death remains unclear, though one popular theory is that she died during childbirth, a common cause of death at the time. While Joan's age in 1307 (about 35) and the chronology of her earlier pregnancies with Ralph de Monthermer suggest that this could well be the case, historians have not confirmed the cause of her death.[32]

Less than four months after her death, Joan’s father died. Joan's widower, Ralph de Monthermer, lost the title of Earl of Gloucester soon after the deaths of his wife and father-in-law. The earldom of Gloucester was given to Joan’s son from her first marriage, Gilbert, who was its rightful holder. Monthermer continued to hold a nominal earldom in Scotland, which had been conferred on him by Edward I, until his death.

Joan’s burial place has been the cause of some interest and debate. She is interred in the Augustinian priory at Clare, which had been founded by her first husband's ancestors and where many of them were also buried. Allegedly, in 1357, Joan’s daughter, Elizabeth De Burgh, claimed to have “inspected her mother's body and found the corpse to be intact,”,[32] which in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church is an indication of sanctity. This claim was only recorded in a fifteenth-century chronicle, however, and its details are uncertain, especially the statement that her corpse was in such a state of preservation that "when her paps [breasts] were pressed with hands, they rose up again." Some sources further claim that miracles took place at Joan's tomb,[32] but no cause for her beatification or canonization has ever been introduced.

Joan of Acre makes an appearance in Virginia Henley's historical romance, entitled Infamous. In the book, Joan, known as Joanna, is described as a promiscuous young princess, vain, shallow and spoiled. In the novel she is only given one daughter, when she historically has eight children. There is no evidence that supports this picture of Joan.[33]

In The Love Knot by Vanessa Alexander, Edward the II’s sister, Joan of Acre is an important heroine. The author portrays a completely different view of the princess than the one in Henley’s novel. The Love Knot tells the story of the love affair between Ralph de Monthermer and Joan of Acre through the discovery of a series of letters the two had written to each other.[34]

Between historians and novelists, Joan has appeared in various texts as either an independent and spirited woman or a spoiled brat. In Lives of the Princesses of England by Mary Anne Everett Green, Joan is portrayed as a “giddy princess” and neglectful mother.[35] Many have agreed to this characterization; however, some authors think there is little evidence to support the assumption that Joan of Acre was a neglectful or uncaring mother.[36]



  • Joan Plantagenet1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14
  • F, #6589, b. circa May 1272, d. 7 April 1307
  • Father Sir Edward I 'Longshanks', King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Aquitaine, Lord & Guardian of Gascony, Lord of the Channel Islands2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14 b. 17 Jun 1239, d. 7 Jul 1307
  • Mother Eleanor of Castile2,5,9,10 b. 1240, d. 28 Nov 1290
  • Joan Plantagenet was born circa May 1272 at Acre, Holy Land.2,10 She and Sir Gilbert de Clare, 9th Earl of Clare, 7th Earl of Hertford, 3rd Earl of Gloucester obtained a marriage license on 16 November 1289; Date of Dispensation for being related in the 2nd and 3rd degrees of affinity.2,10 Joan Plantagenet married Sir Gilbert de Clare, 9th Earl of Clare, 7th Earl of Hertford, 3rd Earl of Gloucester, son of Sir Richard de Clare, 8th Earl Clare, 5th Earl Hertford, 2nd Earl Gloucester and Maud de Lacy, on 23 April 1290 at Westminster Abbey, London, Middlesex, England; They had 1 son (Sir Gilbert, Earl of Gloucester & Hertford) and 3 daughters (Eleanor, wife of Sir Hugh, 2nd Lord Despenser, & of Sir William, 1st Lord Zouche; Margaret, wife of Sir Piers de Gavaston, Earl of Cornwall, & of Sir Hugh, Lord Audley, Earl of Gloucester; & Elizabeth, wife of John de Burgh, of Sir Thebaud, 2nd Lord Verdun, & of Sir Roger, Lord Damory).2,3,5,6,8,9,10,11,13,14 Joan Plantagenet married Sir Ralph Monthermer, 1st Lord Monthermer, Earl Gloucester & Hertford, son of (Mr.) Monthermer, in January 1297; They had 2 sons (Sir Thomas, 2nd Lord Monthermer; & Sir Edward, Lord Monthermer) and 1 daughter (Mary, wife of Duncan, 10th Earl of Fife).2,4,5,7,9,10,12 Joan Plantagenet died on 7 April 1307 at Clare, Suffolk, England; Buried at Austin Friar's Church, Clare, Suffolk.2,5,10
  • Family 1 Sir Gilbert de Clare, 9th Earl of Clare, 7th Earl of Hertford, 3rd Earl of Gloucester b. 2 Sep 1243, d. 7 Dec 1295
  • Children
    • Sir Gilbert de Clare, 10th Earl of Clare, 7th Earl of Gloucester+2,5,10 b. 10 May 1291 or 11 May 1291, d. 24 Jun 1314
    • Margaret de Clare+2,15,5,16,10,13 b. Oct 1292, d. 9 Apr 1342
    • Alianore de Clare+17,2,18,5,6,19,10,11 b. c 23 Nov 1292, d. 30 Jun 1337
    • Elizabeth de Clare+20,2,21,3,5,8,22,10,14 b. 16 Sep 1295, d. 4 Nov 1360
  • Family 2 Sir Ralph Monthermer, 1st Lord Monthermer, Earl Gloucester & Hertford d. 5 Apr 1325 or 10 May 1325
  • Children
    • Mary de Monthermer+23,2,4,10,24 b. c 1298, d. a 30 Mar 1371
    • Joan Monthermer b. 1299
    • Sir Thomas de Monthermer, 2nd Lord Monthermer+2,7,10,12 b. 4 Oct 1301, d. 24 Jun 1340
    • Sir Edward Monthermer, Lord Monthermer10 b. 11 Apr 1304, d. c 3 Dec 1339
    • Hawise Monthermer+25 b. c 1306
  • Citations
  • [S1733] Unknown author, Ancestral Roots of 60 Colonists by F. L. Weis, p. 13.
  • [S5] Douglas Richardson, Plantagenet Ancestry, p. 505-507.
  • [S16] Douglas Richardson, Magna Carta Ancestry, 2nd Edition, Vol. I, p. 359-360.
  • [S16] Douglas Richardson, Magna Carta Ancestry, 2nd Edition, Vol. I, p. 470-471.
  • [S16] Douglas Richardson, Magna Carta Ancestry, 2nd Edition, Vol. I, p. 466-468.
  • [S16] Douglas Richardson, Magna Carta Ancestry, 2nd Edition, Vol. II, p. 67-68.
  • [S16] Douglas Richardson, Magna Carta Ancestry, 2nd Edition, Vol. III, p. 154-155.
  • [S16] Douglas Richardson, Magna Carta Ancestry, 2nd Edition, Vol. IV, p. 252-253.
  • [S4] Douglas Richardson, Royal Ancestry, Vol. I, p. 70.
  • [S4] Douglas Richardson, Royal Ancestry, Vol. II, p. 195-198.
  • [S4] Douglas Richardson, Royal Ancestry, Vol. II, p. 443-445.
  • [S4] Douglas Richardson, Royal Ancestry, Vol. IV, p. 112-113.
  • [S4] Douglas Richardson, Royal Ancestry, Vol. V, p. 79-80.
  • [S4] Douglas Richardson, Royal Ancestry, Vol. V, p. 244-245.
  • [S5] Douglas Richardson, Plantagenet Ancestry, p. 671.
  • [S16] Douglas Richardson, Magna Carta Ancestry, 2nd Edition, Vol. IV, p. 69.
  • [S5] Douglas Richardson, Plantagenet Ancestry, p. 267.
  • [S5] Douglas Richardson, Plantagenet Ancestry, p. 714.
  • [S4] Douglas Richardson, Royal Ancestry, Vol. I, p. 287-289.
  • [S5] Douglas Richardson, Plantagenet Ancestry, p. 166.
  • [S5] Douglas Richardson, Plantagenet Ancestry, p. 735.
  • [S4] Douglas Richardson, Royal Ancestry, Vol. II, p. 19-20.
  • [S11588] Some Early English Pedigrees, by Vernon M. Norr, p. 48.
  • [S4] Douglas Richardson, Royal Ancestry, Vol. II, p. 200-201.
  • [S61] Unknown author, Family Group Sheets, Family History Archives, SLC.
  • From:


  • Joan of Acre1
  • F, #101910, b. circa April 1272, d. 23 April 1307
  • Last Edited=21 Jan 2011
  • Consanguinity Index=1.39%
  • Joan of Acre was born circa April 1272 at Acre, Israel.2 She was the daughter of Edward I 'Longshanks', King of England and Eleanor de Castilla, Comtesse de Ponthieu. She married, firstly, Gilbert de Clare, 6th Earl of Gloucester, son of Richard de Clare, 5th Earl of Gloucester and Matilda de Lacy, on 30 April 1290 at Westminster Abbey, Westminster, London, England.2 She married, secondly, Ralph de Monthermer, Earl of Gloucester before 2 August 1297, without her father's consent, although this was pardoned on 2 August 1297. She died on 23 April 1307 at Clare, Suffolk, England.3 She was buried at Priory Church of the Austin Friars, Clare, Suffolk, England.3
  • She was also known as Joan Plantagenet.4 From 30 April 1290, her married name became de Clare. From 1297, her married name became Monthermer.
  • Children of Joan of Acre and Gilbert de Clare, 6th Earl of Gloucester
    • Gilbert de Clare, 7th Earl of Gloucester5 b. 10 May 1291, d. 24 Jun 1314
    • Lady Eleanor de Clare+1 b. Oct 1292, d. 30 Jun 1337
    • Margaret de Clare+1 b. 1293, d. Apr 1342
    • Elizabeth de Clare+6 b. 16 Sep 1295, d. 4 Nov 1360
  • Children of Joan of Acre and Ralph de Monthermer, Earl of Gloucester
    • Mary de Monthermer+1 b. 1298, d. a 1371
    • Joan de Monthermer1 b. 1299
    • Thomas de Monthermer, 2nd Baron Monthermer+1 b. 1301, d. 1340
    • Edward de Monthermer, 3rd Baron Monthermer1 b. 1304, d. b 3 Feb 1340
  • Citations
  • [S106] Royal Genealogies Website (ROYAL92.GED), online Hereinafter cited as Royal Genealogies Website.
  • [S11] Alison Weir, Britain's Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy (London, U.K.: The Bodley Head, 1999), page 82. Hereinafter cited as Britain's Royal Families.
  • [S11] Alison Weir, Britain's Royal Families, page 83.
  • [S125] Richard Glanville-Brown, online <e-mail address>, Richard Glanville-Brown (RR 2, Milton, Ontario, Canada), downloaded 17 August 2005.
  • [S6] G.E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume III, page 244. Hereinafter cited as The Complete Peerage.
  • [S6] Cokayne, and others, The Complete Peerage, volume III, page 245.
  • From:


  • Joan PLANTAGENET of Acre
  • Born: 1272, Acre, Palestine
  • Died: 23 Apr 1307, Clare, Suffolk, England
  • Buried: 26 Apr 1307, Priory Church of the Austin Friars, Clare, Suffolk, England
  • Notes: Countess of Gloucester and Hertford. Her father had arranged for her to be married to Amadeus of Savoy, but she had already secretly married to Ralph, a member of the Kings household.
  • Father: EDWARD I "Longshanks" PLANTAGENET (King of England)
  • Mother: Leonor of Castilla (C. Ponthieu)
  • Bethroated to: Herman of Austria (d. 1282)
  • Married 1: Gilbert "the Red" De CLARE (3º E. Gloucester) 30 Apr 1290, Westminster Abbey, London, England
  • Children:
    • 1. Gilbert De CLARE (4º E. Gloucester) (b. 10 May 1291)
    • 2. Eleanor De CLARE (b. Oct 1292) (m.1 Hugh Despencer - m.2 William La Zouche of Mortimer)
    • 3. Margaret De CLARE (b. Oct 1292)
    • 4. Elizabeth De CLARE (b. 16 Sep 1295)
  • Married 2: Amadeus V "the Great" (Count of Savoy) Bethroated only
  • Married 3: Ralph De MONTHERMER (1º E. Hertford) Jan 1297
  • Children:
    • 5. Mary De MONTHERMER (b. 1298)
    • 6. Thomas De MONTHERMER (2º B. Monthermer) (b. 1301) (m. Margaret Teyes)
    • 7. Edward De MONTHERMER (3º B. Monthermer) (b. 1304)
    • 8. Joan De MONTHERMER (Nun at Amesbury)
  • From: PLANTAGENET of Acre1


  • Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 29
  • Joan of Acre by Charles Lethbridge Kingsford
  • JOAN or JOANNA of Acre, Countess of Gloucester and Hertford (1272–1307), third daughter of Edward I and Eleanor of Castile, was born at Acre in the spring of 1272, while her parents were on the crusade. In the following autumn she left the Holy Land with her father and mother, and the winter was spent in Sicily. In the spring of 1273 Eleanor took her to Castile, where she was left under the care of her grandmother, Joanna. Joanna remained for five years in Spain, where she had for her tutor, Suerus, bishop of Calixien. In 1277 Edward opened negotiations for a marriage between Joanna and Hartmann, the eldest son of Rudolf of Hapsburg, king of the Romans, and in the spring of 1278 despatched Stephen and Margaret de Penchester to bring the young princess home. The marriage was eventually arranged to take place in September 1279, Rudolf promising to try and secure his son's election as king of the Romans and of Arles (Fœdera, i. 536, 548, 555–6, 559, Record ed.). The performance of the marriage was, however, delayed, and eventually Hartmann was accidentally drowned in December 1282. Edward almost immediately arranged another marriage for his daughter with Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester (1243–1295) [q. v.], who resigned his lands into the king's hands, and received them back with a settlement on his issue by Joanna, and failing such issue on her heirs, to the exclusion of his own. A papal dispensation for the marriage was granted on 16 Nov. 1289 (ib. i. 721), and the wedding took place on 30 April 1290, at Westminster Abbey (Oxenedes, p. 276, Rolls Ser.) Joanna lived with her first husband for nearly six years, and bore him a son and three daughters. In 1290 she took the cross with her husband, but neither of them went on the crusade (B. Cotton, p. 177, Rolls Ser.) On 7 Dec. 1295 Earl Gilbert died, and his estates reverted to Joanna, who did homage for them on 20 Jan. 1296. Very shortly afterwards Joanna fell in love with one of her squires, Ralph de Monthermer [q. v.], and she induced her father to knight him, and then married him privately early in 1297 (Hemingburgh, ii. 70). Edward learned of her intentions without discovering that they were already accomplished, and on 29 Jan. 1297 took all the countess's lands into his own hands. In March Edward endeavoured to arrange a marriage between her and Amadeus of Savoy (Fœdera, i. 861). Thereupon Joanna revealed the marriage. Edward was very wroth, and Monthermer was imprisoned, but the king eventually relented, and in July Joanna's lands were restored. Monthermer did homage on 2 Aug. (Parl. Writs, i. 297), and, assuming the title of Earl of Gloucester and Hertford, afterwards rose to high favour with the king. Joanna died at Stoke Clare, Suffolk, on 23 April 1307, and was buried in the Augustine priory there (Flores Hist. iii. 142). She left by her second husband two sons and a daughter.
  • [Fœdera, Record ed.; Hemingburgh (Engl. Hist. Soc.); authorities quoted; Green's Princesses of England, ii. 318–62, where many minor details of interest will be found.]
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Joan of Acre's Timeline

April 1272
Acre, Kingdom of Acre
May 10, 1291
Age 19
Winchcombe Near, Tewkesbury, Gloucester, England
October 3, 1292
Age 20
Caerphilly, Glamorganshire, Wales
October 12, 1292
Age 20
Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, England
October 1292
Age 20
September 16, 1295
Age 23
Tewkesbury, Gloucester, England
October 1297
Age 25
Acre, Akko, Hazafon, Israel