Catherine of Valois Queen of England
- Born: 27 Oct 1401, Paris, Isle de France
- Marriage (1): Owen Tudor
- Marriage (2): King Henry V of England
- Died: 3 Jan 1437, London, Middlesex, England at age 35
- Buried: Westminster Abbey, Middlesex, England
Catherine of Valois was the Queen consort of England from 1420 until 1422. Catherine of Valois was the daughter of King Charles VI of France and Isabeau de Bavière. She was born on October 27, 1401, in Paris. On June 2, 1420, she was given in marriage to King Henry V of England, but only after Henry's demand for return of Normandy and Aquitaine as part of the marriage pact which was triggered by the Battle of Agincourt and the subsequent Treaty of Troyes. 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.
Catherine of Valois was crowned Queen of England at Westminster Abbey in February, 1421. The only issue of Catherine and Henry, the future Henry VI of England, was born on 6 December 1421. Then Henry V died on 31 August 1422.
Catherine was given Wallingford Castle, but effectively exiled from court, suspicion falling on her nationality. She turned for comfort to Owen Tudor, a Welsh courtier, who would become the founding father of the Tudor dynasty. In 1428 Parliament reacted to the rumours about this relationship by forbidding Catherine from marrying. Historians are divided on whether Catherine married secretly or married at all. Although Catherine was forbidden to marry, there was an otherwise general lack of interest in her on the part of the authorities.
She gave birth to at least six of Owen Tudor's children:
* Owen Tudor (1429-1501). He was a monk at Westminster.
* Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond (1430 - November 1, 1456), married Lady Margaret Beaufort. Father of King Henry VII.
* Jasper Tudor, 1st Duke of Bedford (1431 - December 21/26, 1495), married Katherine Woodville, daughter to Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers and Jacquetta of Luxembourg. No issue. He did have two illegitimate children.
* Tacina Tudor (died 1469).
* Daughter Tudor. She became a nun.
* Margaret (Catherine) Tudor (born 1437). Died young.
Catherine died on January 3, 1437, in London, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. Her lover, Owen Tudor, lived on until 1461, when he was executed by the Yorkists following the Battle of Mortimer's Cross. Their sons were given earldoms by King Henry VI after Catherine's death. Edmund would become the father of the future King Henry VII of England.
The wooden funeral effigy which was carried at her funeral still survives at Westminster Abbey and is on display at the Undercroft Museum. Her tomb originally boasted an alabaster memorial, which was deliberately destroyed during extensions to the abbey in the reign of her grandson, Henry VII. It has been suggested that Henry ordered her memorial to be removed to distance himself from his dubious ancestry. At this time, her coffin lid was accidentally raised, revealing her corpse, which for generations became a tourist attraction. In 1669 the diarist Samuel Pepys kissed the long-deceased queen on his birthday:
"On Shrove Tuesday 1669, I to the Abbey went, and by favour did see the body of Queen Katherine of Valois, and had the upper part of the body in my hands, and I did kiss her mouth, reflecting upon it I did kiss a Queen: and this my birthday and I thirty-six years old and I did kiss a Queen."
Catherine's remains were not properly re-interred until the reign of Queen Victoria.
Catherine had a relationship with Owen Tudor, son of Maredudd ap Tudor and Margaret verch Dafydd. (Owen Tudor was born in 1400 and died on 2 Feb 1461.)
Catherine next married King Henry V of England, son of King Henry IV of England and France & Lord of Ireland and Mary de Bohun. (King Henry V of England was born on 16 Sep 1387 in Monmouth, Wales and died on 31 Aug 1422 in Bois de Vincennes, near Paris, France.)