As I was looking through my Uncle Bill Spencer’s family history account, I can across a Princess named, Joan of Acre. I wondered if this was a mistake on my uncle’s part or within some of the research that was out there, I wondered if they had indeed meant Joan of Arc. Joan of Arc, however, was a completely different person. The name was close enough that I thought maybe it was an error, but it wasn’t. Joan of Arc was born in 1412, and died on May 30, 1431, while Joan of Acre was born on April 1272 and died on April 23, 1307. Joan of Acre was an English princess, a daughter of King Edward I of England and Queen Eleanor of Castile. The name “Acre” comes from her birthplace in the Holy Land while her parents were on a crusade. Joan had sixteen full siblings, only five of which survived to adulthood, and at least three half siblings.
The Princess was married twice. Her first husband was Gilbert de Clare who was the 7th Earl of Gloucester, was one of the most powerful nobles in her father’s kingdom. They married on April 30, 1290, and their short marriage produced four children…Gilbert de Clare, Eleanor de Clare, Margaret de Clare, Elizabeth de Clare. He passed away just about five years after their marriage, leaving her to raise the young children…a totally different thing than these days, given her stature and all the help she would have had. Her second husband was Sir Ralph de Monthermer who a squire in her household. She married him in secret in 1297, probably due to the fact that he would not have been a suitable match in those days…sad to think about really. I never could understand the whole purpose behind stature or other arranged marriages, but times were different, and I can’t say that our current divorce rate speaks well for making our own choices either. The marriage didn’t remain a secret for long however, because they had four children as well…Mary de Monthermer, Joan de Monthermer, Thomas de Monthermer, Edward de Monthermer. After the marriage, her father, who was not happy about the marriage, nevertheless, gave in and her husband was given the same titles that her first husband had held.
History does not record the cause of Joan’s death on April 23, 1307, but many suspect that it was in childbirth. She was best known for her rebellious second marriage, as it was pretty much an unheard of event at that time. Joan’s father died just four months after she did, 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. While that may have stung a little, I have to think that her second husband loved her more than the titles.