Joan II, Countess of Auvergne

Joan II
Countess of Auvergne and Boulogne

Hans Holbein's drawing of a sculpture of Jeanne d'Auvergne, Duchess of Berry, by Jean de Cambrai, Black and coloured chalk, 39.6 × 27.5 cm, Kunstmuseum Basel. Holbein drew this picture and its companion piece, Jean de France, Duke of Berry, during a visit to France in 1523/24.[1]
Spouse(s) John, Duke of Berry
Georges de la Trémoille
Father John II, Count of Auvergne
Mother Aliénor de Comminges
Born c. 1378
Died c. 1424 (aged 46)

Joan II, Countess of Auvergne and Boulogne (French: Jeanne d'Auvergne), also known as Jeanne de Boulogne, and Joan, Duchess of Berry, (1378 c. 1424), was the daughter of John II of Auvergne (died 1394), and second wife of John, Duke of Berry. She is arguably most famous for saving the life of her nephew, King Charles VI of France, during the disastrous Bal des Ardents (Ball of the Burning Men).[2]

Joan was born c. 1378 to John II, Count of Auvergne and Boulogne and his wife Alenor de Comiinges. Joan's grandfather, John I, had been an uncle of Queen Joanna of France, a previous heiress to Auvergne and Boulogne; John inherited the counties when his great-nephew, Joanna's son from a previous marriage, Philip of Burgundy, died without issue. Joan's mother was a descendant of Peter II of Courtenay,[3] Emperor of Constantinople, who in turn descended from Louis VI of France.

In 1389, Joan was married to John, Duke of Berry, a son of John II of France, whose wife had died in the previous year.[4][5] They had no children.

The Bal des Ardents
Joan covers the King with her dress

At the age of fifteen, Joan was present at the infamous Bal des Ardents given by Queen Isabeau, wife of the Duke of Berry's nephew King Charles, on 28 January 1393. During this, the King and five nobles dressed up as wildmen, clad "in costumes of linen cloth sewn onto their bodies and soaked in resinous wax or pitch to hold a covering of frazzled hemp," and proceeded to dance about chained together. At length, the King became separated from the others, and made his way to the Duchess, who jokingly refused to let him wander off again until he told her his name. When Charles' brother, Louis of Orléans, accidentally set the other dancers on fire, Joan swathed the King in her skirts, protecting him from the flames and saving his life.[6] Upon her father's death in 1394, Joan became Countess of Auvergne and Boulogne.

Joan was widowed upon the death of the Duke of Berry in 1416. She married Georges de la Trémoille soon after; however, they produced no children, and the counties passed to her cousin, Marie I of Auvergne, upon her death in 1424.


  1. (Müller in Christian Müller; Stephan Kemperdick; Maryan Ainsworth; et al, Hans Holbein the Younger: The Basel Years, 1515–1532, Munich: Prestel, 2006, ISBN 978-3-7913-3580-3, pp. 316–17).
  2. Echols, 254.
  3. "Aliénor de Comminges". Retrieved 2014-01-28.
  4. Encyclopædia Britannica, Vol.3, (1911), 809.
  5. Emmerson 2013, p. 381-382.
  6. Tuchman, Barbara. (1978). A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century. New York: Ballantine. ISBN 978-0-345-34957-6, p. 504


French nobility
Preceded by
John II and III
Countess of Auvergne and Boulogne
with John III and IV (1404–1416)
George (1416–1424)
Succeeded by
Marie I and II
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