In 1340, Princess Joan 'the
Fair Maid of Kent' fell in love with a young knight from Lancashire. His name
was Sir Thomas Holland.
They secretly got
married. He was about 20. She was only 12.
Sir Thomas then
left England to fight the French with her cousin, King Edward
When he came home,
a year later, he found that Joan's family had forced her to marry the son of
the Earl of Salisbury from Bisham Manor.
They were the same age.
Joan had said
nothing to them about already being married. She might have thought Thomas was
Thomas said nothing
either, but he got a job as her husband's steward, looking after his lands.
The old Earl of
Salisbury died in 1344 from wounds received in a joust at Windsor
Castle. His son became the new Earl. Joan became Countess of Salisbury.
Sir Thomas still
kept going off to war. In 1346, he captured the Count of Eu at the Battle of
Crecy. He sold him to the King for £8,000 (that's £3.5 million today!)
Thomas now felt he
had enough money to claim his wife. He complained to the Pope in Avignon (in
France) who sent judges to look into things.
The Earl of
Salisbury did not turn up at court. Sir Thomas said he had locked Joan up,
probably in Bisham Manor.
was able to confirm that her marriage to Thomas had taken place. After 2 years
in court, the Pope told the Earl of Salisbury that their marriage was invalid.
Joan went to live
with Thomas and they were happy together.
The Earl of
Salisbury went on to be a commander for the Black
Prince at the Battle of Poitiers and became a Knight
of the Garter. He married someone else and had a son; but he accidentally
killed him in another joust at Windsor Castle. He died all alone.