Who Was … Catherine of Valois?


Catherine of Valois is often seen as the matriarch of the Tudor dynasty. Her first husband was Henry V, the victor of Agincourt, and after his death she married her servant, Owen Tudor. Catherine was the mother of Henry VI by Henry V, and the grandmother of Henry VII through her son, Edmund Tudor. Catherine was descended from the French royal family, and her first marriage was supposed to seal a peace treaty between England and France.

Name: Catherine of Valois

Title/s: Queen of England

Birth: 27 October 1401 in Paris, France

Death: 3 January 1437 in London, England

Buried: Westminster Abbey, London, England

Spouse: Henry V of England 1420-1422 & Owen Tudor?

Children: Henry VI of England 1421-1471 / Edmund Earl of Richmond 1430-1456 / Jasper Duke of Bedford 1431-1495 / Edward ?-? / Owen ?-? / Margaret 1437-1437

Parents: Charles VI of France 1368-1422 & Isabella of Bavaria 1370-1435

Siblings: Charles 1386-1386 / Jeanne 1388-1390 / Isabella Duchess of Orleans 1389-1409 / Jeanne Duchess of Brittany 1391-1433 / Charles 1392-1401 / Marie 1393-1438 / Michelle 1395-1422 / Louis 1397-1415 / John 1398-1417 / Charles VII of France 1403-1461 / Philip 1407-1407

Noble Connections: Catherine became the grandmother of Henry VII of England through the marriage of her son, Edmund, to Margaret Beaufort. She was the wife of Henry V of England, and the daughter of Charles VI of France. Her sons became Earl of Richmond and Duke of Bedford.

Controversy: It has been debated whether Catherine actually married her second ‘husband’, Owen Tudor. Some historians believe she did, but others believe not, which would make her children illegitimate.

Works of Fiction:

  • Vanora Bennett, The Queen’s Lover (2009)
  • Margaret Frazer, The Boy’s Tale (1995)
  • Mari Griffith, Root of the Tudor Rose (2014)
  • Joanna Hickson, The Agincourt Bride (2013)
  • Rosemary Hawley Jarman, Crown in Candlelight (1978)
  • Dedwydd Jones, The Lily and the Dragon (2002)
  • Anne O’Brien, The Forbidden Queen (2013)
  • Jean Plaidy, The Queen’s Secret (1989)
  • Martha Rofheart, Fortune Made His Sword (1972)

Portrayals on Screen:

  • Judi Dench, An Age of Kings, 1960, 2 episodes
  • Kay Hammond, Henry V, 1953, directed by Peter Watts
  • Gwyneth Horobin, Henry V, 2007, directed by Peter Babakitis
  • Melanie Thierry, The Hollow Crown, 2012, 1 episode
  • Emma Thompson, Henry V, 1989, directed by Kenneth Branagh

Further Reading:

  • Amy Licence, Red Roses: Blanche of Gaunt to Margaret Beaufort (2016)
  • David Loades, The Tudor Queens of England (2010)
  • Mary McGrigor, The Sister Queens: Isabella and Catherine de Valois (2016)
  • Laurel A. Rockerfeller, Catherine de Valois (2014)
  • Katherine of Valois from the National Portrait Gallery
  • Arms of Catherine of Valois

Author: Helene Harrison

I have an MA in History, with a thesis entitled 'The Many Faces of Anne Boleyn: Perceptions in History, Literature and Film'. I have an interest in the Tudors and the Wars of the Roses along with my love of reading and literature.

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