HOME ~ Contact us

John of Gaunt

John of GAUNT. Duke of Lancaster. Duke of Aquitaine. Familytree].
Born on 24 (JUN-S1)(MAR-S2) 1340 at St. Bavon's Abbey in the Flemish town of Ghent in Flanders; the fourth son of EDWARD III, King of England and Philippa of Hainault.

He was given the name Gaunt from his birthplace of Ghent. He became one of the richest men in Europe. At least 300 lords and gentry were under written indentures (contracts) to him. He had vast landholdings, especially in the north of England. He had the finest houses in London. He ruled over thousands of peasants. He has been called the last great aristocrat of the Middle Ages, and that after his death Europe changed in dramatic ways, moving into the era of the Renaissance and Early Modern Times. (S5).

The Hundred Years' War began during his time, beginning in the 1350s and 1360s. Much of western France was devastated as a it was fought over by lords on all sides.

He became Duke of Lancaster by his marriage (1) to his cousin, Blanche of Lancaster on 13 May 1359 in Reading Abbey, Berkshire, England. Her father was the first Duke of Lancaster, and passed on the title to John of Gaunt. This union made him the richest magnate in the land.

Blanche died 12 Sep 1369 in Bolingbroke, Castle and was buried in St Paul's Cathedral, London, England.

After Blanche's death in 1369, John married (2) Constance of Castile, daughter of Peter I, King of Castile, on 21 SEP 1371 in Roquefort, Guienne, France; thus giving him a claim on the kingdom of Castile, which he would pursue unsuccessfully.

In 1373 John invaded France, and marched from Calais on the northeast coast down to Bordeax in the southwest, leaving a trail of ruin. The march accomplished nothing significant, but it killed half of his soldiers, many of whom succumbed to hunger and exposure. When the French siezed control of the Channel, with the help of the Castilian navy, and prevented reinforcements from reaching the English troops, the war fizzled out. {S6}.

After the death of his elder brother, Edward, the Black Prince, in 1376 John of Gaunt became increasingly powerful. He was able to protect the religious reformer, John Wyclif, with whose aims he sympathised. When his father died and was succeeded by the youthful Richard II of England, Gaunt's position was strengthened still further, but some unwise decisions and actions caused Richard, and some of the common people, to distrust him, which is why his Savoy Palace, the largest house in London, was destroyed by rioters during the Peasants' Revolt of 1381. The Peansants' Revolt broke out as a protest against the new poll tax. The rioters swarmed across London, burned Southwark and his palace, and murdered the Archbishop of Cantebury and the chancellor.

In 1386, he was dispatched by Richard to the Continent as an ambassador.

In the meantime, he had fathered four children by a mistress, Katherine ROET, widow SWYNFORD (whose sister married the poet, Geoffrey Chaucer). Later, when his wife died, he married Katherine, and their children were legitimised but barred from inheriting the throne. From the eldest son, John, came a granddaughter, Margaret Beaufort, whose son, later King Henry VII of England, would nevertheless claim the throne. Their children were known as Beauforts, after Beaufort Castle in France where they were raised.

He married (4?) Marie de ST HILAIRE.

At the death of his father in 1376, he helped set up a regency council chosen specifically so that no one person or group could gain permanent control of policy, thus weakening the powers of the government.

In 1386 he sailed from Plymouth to try and make good a claim to the throne of Castile. He returned to England in 1389 and supported King Richard II in his struggles. He advised his son Henry of Bolingbroke to betray the confidences of Mowbray. For his remaining years he was a loyal supporter of King Richard.

He died on 3 FEB 1399 at (Leicester Castle-S1)( in Ely House Holborn and was buried in St Paul's Cathedral, London, England-S2).

WIFE (1):
Blanche of Lancaster.
Born 25 March 1345; daughter of Henry PLANTAGANET and Isabel de BEAUMONT.

Blanche was born 25 March 1345. Blanche married John of Gaunt on 13 May 1359 in Reading Abbey, Berkshire, England. She died on 12 September 1369 in Bolingbroke Castle and was buried in St Paul's Cathedral, London, England.

CHILDREN of John of GAUNT and Blance of Lancaster:

WIFE (2):
Constanza (Constance), Queen of CASTILE.
Born 1354 in Castrojeriz, Castile; daughter of Pedro `the Cruel,' King of CASTILE (Peter I) and Maria Juana de PADILLA (PEDILLA). Constanza married John of Gaunt PLANTAGENET Duke on 21 Sep 1371 in Roquefort, Guienne. She died 24 Mar 1394 in Leicester Castle, England and was buried in Newark Abbey, Leicester.

CHILDREN of John of GAUNT and Constanza of Castile:

MISTRESS and later WIFE (3):
Catherine (Katherine) ROET. Chart A2.
The youngest daughter of Henry, Duke of Lancaster and grandson of Henry III [Paon (Payne) ROET?] [F7606302]. She married (1) Sir Hugh SWYNFORD in 1368. She was mistress to John of GAUNT, and had several children by him.

CHILDREN of John of GAUNT and Katherine ROET:

WIFE (4):
Marie de ST HILAIRE.