Joan Vaux: a remarkable Tudor lady

Historian article

By Joanna Hickson, published 3rd February 2023

Joanna Hickson is a hugely successful novelist, specialising in historical fiction, and she describes herself as feeling that she actually lives in the fifteenth century. For readers of The Historian she explores and explains how she developed her understanding and knowledge of a highly significant Tudor woman who is a central figure in two of her novels.

Joan Vaux lived until the age of 75 or 76, a remarkable life-span for a woman in Tudor times. But this is far from being the most remarkable thing about Joan. The reason her age is not precisely known is because there is no record of her birth date or her place of birth. What is certain is the extraordinary variety of her life and her influence on the Tudor dynasty and it is these elements that drew me to set two novels around her – The Lady of the Ravens and The Queen’s Lady, which comes out in paperback in January 2023.

The date of Joan’s birth can be estimated as 1462–63, during the early years of the Wars of the Roses, when her staunchly Lancastrian parents were forced to follow Henry VI’s Queen Marguerite into exile in order to avoid Yorkist persecution. Marguerite was a daughter of the French Duke Renée of Anjou and among the members of her retinue when she travelled to England to marry were her doctor, Gregorio Penistone and his daughter Caterina, who hailed originally from Piedmont, an Italian province which had been annexed into France... 

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