...making decisions on the basis of what seems best instead of following some single doctrine or style.
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Thursday, April 9, 2009

April 9, 2009

John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster

My featured Ancestor of the week is John "of Gaunt" 1st Duke of Lancaster/Prince of England (6 March 1340 - 3 February 1399).

I descend from this fascinating man through my 9Th great grandmother Elizabeth Brooke, the wife of Sir Thomas Wyatt.

John was the third son of Edward III the Plantagenet King of England and Philippa of Hainault. His name "Gaunt" came from the fact that he was born in Ghent, in today's Belgium. The English pronunciation is Gaunt.

John married his 1st wife Blanche of Lancaster, daughter of Henry of Grosmont in 1359. John's father-in-law died in 1361 leaving John half of his lands and the title Earl of Lancaster. Though Blanche was Henry's daughter all of the inheritance went to the husband. This tidy bequeath made John the greatest landowner in north of England. John's father Edward III, King of England made John the Duke of Lancaster 13 November 1362, leaving John well established, owning thirty castles and estates across England and France.

Poor Blanche died of the Plague in 1369 while John was at sea, leaving eight children, one who would become Henry IV King of England after the death of Richard II. Thus begins the House of Lancaster, which will bring on the War of the Roses. The House of Lancaster being represented by the red rose.

John remarried Constance of Castile, daughter of King Peter of Castile in 1371. Their daughter would become Queen of Castile by marrying Henry III of Castile. Constance died in 1394.

After the death of his 2nd wife, John was able to marry his long time mistress Katerine De Rot Swynford the widow of Sir Hugh Swynford. Katherine and John had five children together prior to their marriage in 1396 which were known as the Beauforts. These children were legitimised by King Richard II and the Church, but excluded from inheriting the throne. From Katherine and John's granddaughter Margaret Beufort later came King Henry VII who would nevertheless claim the throne at the battle of Bosworth.

From Henry the IV until present day all Kings and Queens of England descend from John of Gaunt. You can see the royal genealogy on .

My mother's family descends from the John and Katherine through their only daughter
Joan De Beaufort who married Ralph De Neville.

John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster Coat of Arms


  1. Your blog looks wonderful! I have a biography of John of Gaunt (unread as yet) and I loved his character in Katherine by Anya Seton. I also read a Plaidy novel, Passage to Pontefract, that included him. It's really neat that your family traces back to him!

    I'm about to add you to the Paidy Challenge! Thanks for visitng :)

  2. What an interesting blog, looking forward to reading and discussing with you on the J.P.challenge.


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