Joanna of Flanders

Joanna of Flanders

Joanna of Flanders (c. 1295 – September 1374), also known as Jehanne de Montfort was consort Duchess of Brittany by her marriage to John IV, Duke of Brittany. She was the daughter of Louis, Count of Nevers and Jeanne of Rethel and the sister of Count Louis I of Flanders.

She married Duke John IV in March 1329. When her husband died in 1345 in the midst of the Breton War of Succession, she took arms to protect the rights of her son John V, Duke of Brittany against the party led by Charles of Blois and Joanna of Dreux. She organized resistance and made use of diplomatic means to protect her family. In the siege of Hennebont, she took up arms and, dressed in armour, conducted the defence of the town, urging the women to "cut their skirts and take their safety in their own hands". She even led a raid of knights outside the walls that successfully destroyed one of the enemy's rear camps.

Joanna's forces captured Charles of Blois in battle, but fortune turned against the Duchess as, her son John still a minor, she succumbed to madness and died in confinement. Her foe Charles was canonised after his death, leading historian Barbara Tuchman to comment on the equivalency between insanity and sainthood in the Middle Ages.

ee also

*Timeline of women's participation in warfare

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