Catherine of Valois

Daughter, Wife, Mother and Grandmother of Kings

Marriage Of Henry V (1470, image c1850)
Marriage Of Henry V and Catherine of Valois (1470, image c1850). The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images

Catherine of Valois Facts:

Known for: consort of Henry V of England, mother of Henry VI, grandmother of Henry VII the first Tudor king, also the daughter of a king
Dates: Dates: October 27, 1401 - January 3, 1437
Also known as: Katherine of Valois

Catherine of Valois Biography:

Catherine of Valois, daughter of the King Charles VI of France and his consort, Isabella of Bavaria, was born in Paris. Her earliest years saw conflict and poverty within the royal family.

Her father's mental illness, and her mother's rumored rejection of her, may have created an unhappy childhood.

In 1403, when she was less than 2 years old, she was betrothed to Charles, heir of Louis, duke of bourbon.  In 1408, Henry IV of England proposed a peace agreement with France that would marry his son, the future Henry V, to one of the daughters of Charles VI of France. Over a number of years, marriage possibilities and plans were discussed, interrupted by Agincourt. Henry demanded that Normandy and Aquitaine be given back to Henry as part of any marriage agreement. Finally, in 1418, the plans were again on the table, and Henry and Catherine met in June of 1419. Henry continued his pursuit of Catherine from England, and promised to renounce his assumed title of king of France if she would marry him, and if he and his children by Catherine would be named Charles' heirs.  The Treaty of Troyes was signed and the pair were betrothed.

 Henry arrived in France in May and the couple was married on June 2, 1420.

As part of the treaty, Henry won control of Normandy and Aquitaine, became regent of France during Charles' lifetime, and won the right to succeed on Charles' death. If this had come to pass, France and England would have been united under one monarch.

Instead, during the minority of Henry VI, the French Dauphin, Charles, was crowned as Charles VII with the aid of Joan of Arc in 1429.

The newly married couple were together as Henry laid seige to several cities.  They celebrated Christmas at the Louvre Palace, then left for Rouen, and then traveled to England in January of 1421.

Catherine of Valois was crowned Queen of England at Westminster Abbey in February, 1421. with Henry absent so that the attention would all be on his queen. The two toured England, to introduce the new queen but also to increase commitment to Henry's military ventures.

The son of Catherine and Henry, the future Henry VI, was born in December of 1421, with Henry back in France.  In May of 1422 Catherine, without her son, traveled to France with John, duke of Bedford, to join her husband.  Henry V died of an illness in August 1422, leaving the crown of England in the hands of a minor. During Henry's youth he was educated and raised by Lancastrians while the Duke of York, Henry's uncle, held power as Protector.  Catherine's role was mainly ceremonial.  Catherine went to live on land controlled by the Duke of Lanchester, with castles and manor houses under her control.

 She appeared at times with the infant king on special occasions.

Rumors of a relationship between the King's mother and Edmund Beaufort led to a statute in parliament forbidding marriage to a queen without royal consent -- by the king and his council -- without severe punishment. She appeared less often in public, though she did appear at her son's coronation in 1429.

Catherine of Valois had begun a secret relationship with Owen Tudor, a Welsh squire. It is not known hwo or where they met. Historians are divided on whether Catherine had already married Owen Tudor before that Act of Parliament, or whether they married secretly after that.  By 1432 they certainly were married, though without permission.  In 1436, Owen Tudor was imprisoned and Catherine retired to Bermondsey Abbey, where she died the next year.

 The marriage was not revealed until after her death.

Catherine of Valois and Owen Tudor had five children, half-siblings to King Henry VI. One daughter died in infancy and another daughter and three sons survived. The eldest son, Edmund, became Earl of Richmond in 1452. Edmund married Margaret Beaufort. Their son won the crown of England as Henry VII, claiming his right to the throne through conquest, but also through descent through his mother, Margaret Beaufort.