Category Archives: British Royals

Joan of the Tower, Queen of Scots

by Susan Flantzer

Credit – Wikipedia

Joan was born at the Tower of London, hence her name, on July 5, 1321. She was the youngest daughter and the youngest of the four children of King Edward II of England and Isabella of France.

Joan had three older siblings:

In 1328, England and Scotland signed the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton. The treaty formally ended the First War of Scottish Independence, which had begun with King Edward I of England’s invasion of Scotland in 1296. The treaty was signed in Edinburgh by Robert I the Bruce, King of Scots and then the English Parliament ratified the treaty in Northampton. One of the terms of the treaty was that six-year-old Joan would marry Robert the Bruce’s heir, four-year-old David, and because of this Joan was known as “Joan Makepeace”. The very young couple married on July 17, 1328 at Berwick-upon-Tweed, the northernmost town in England, 2 ½ miles from the border with Scotland. Although the couple was married for 34 years, they had no children.

Less than a year after the wedding, Robert the Bruce died, and Joan’s husband became King David II of Scots. Joan and David were crowned and anointed on November 24, 1331 at Scone, the traditional coronation site of the Kings of Scots. Unfortunately, the peace of the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton did not last long. The Second War of Scottish Independence started in 1332. After the 1333 Battle of Halidon Hill in which the Scots were soundly defeated by Joan’s brother King Edward III of England, Joan and David were sent to France for their safety. Very little is known about their life in France. King Philippe VI of France, the cousin of Joan’s mother, granted the couple the use of Château Gaillard, built by King Richard I of England to defend his Duchy of Normandy.

Joan and David with Philippe VI of France in a miniature from Froissart’s Chronicles; Credit – Wikipedia

In 1341, the situation improved in Scotland and David and Joan returned. Five years later, under the terms of an alliance between Scotland and France, David invaded England which was involved in a war with France in Normandy. During the Battle of Neville’s Cross in October of 1346, the Scots were routed and David was captured by the English.

David was imprisoned from 1346 – 1357, first at the Tower of London and then at Odiham Castle in Hampshire. King Edward III offered to release David three times for a ransom if the childless David accepted one of Edward III’s sons as his heir to the throne of Scotland. David rejected all three offers. In 1357, David was released in return for a ransom of 100,000 marks, approximately £15 million today.

Joan was allowed to see her husband while he was imprisoned, but after his release, she decided to remain in England. Joan’s mother Isabella of France had been under house arrest since 1330 because of her part in deposing her husband King Edward II with her lover Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March. Joan nursed her mother during her final illness in 1358.

Joan, aged 41, died of the plague at Hertford Castle in England on September 7, 1362. She was buried at Christ Church Greyfriars in London where her mother had been buried. The church suffered much damage during King Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries and many of the tombs were destroyed. During the Great Fire of London in 1666, the medieval church was completely destroyed.

Wikipedia: Joan of the Tower

Works Cited
“Christ church Greyfriars.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 25 Nov. 2016. Web. 17 Dec. 2016.
“David II of Scotland.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 10 Nov. 2016. Web. 17 Dec. 2016.
“Joan of the tower.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 11 Apr. 2016. Web. 17 Dec. 2016.
queens. “Jeanne d’Angleterre (1321-1362).” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 13 July 1321.
Williamson, David. Brewer’s British Royalty. London: Cassell, 1996. Print.

Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester

by Susan Flantzer

Credit – Wikipedia

Thomas of Woodstock was the fifth of the surviving five sons and the fourteenth and last child of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault. He was born at Woodstock Palace near Oxford, England on January 7, 1355. Thomas was fifteen years younger than his eldest sibling and was raised in his mother’s household.

Thomas had thirteen older siblings:

Around August 24, 1376, Thomas married Eleanor de Bohun, the elder of the two surviving daughters of Humphrey de Bohun, 7th Earl of Hereford and Lady Joan Fitzalan.  Eleanor’s younger sister Mary de Bohun was the first wife of the future King Henry IV of England and the mother of King Henry V of England.

Thomas and Eleanor had five children:

When Eleanor’s father died in January 1373, his estates should have passed to his cousin Gilbert de Bohun because he had no sons. However, due to the influence of King Edward III, the estates of the 7th Earl of Hereford were divided between his two daughters. After Thomas and Eleanor married in 1376, they lived in Pleshey Castle in Essex and Eleanor’s younger sister Mary lived there under Eleanor and Thomas’ care. She was instructed in religious doctrine in the hope that she would become a nun, which would cause her share of the de Bohun inheritance to go to Eleanor and Thomas. However, John of Gaunt, third surviving son of King Edward III and Thomas’ older brother, had other ideas. He arranged for Mary’s aunt to take her from Pleshey Castle to Arundel Castle, home of her mother’s family. There, on July 27, 1380, 11-12-year-old Mary married John of Gaunt’s eldest son, 13-year-old Henry Bolingbroke, the future King Henry IV.

In 1377, Thomas’s father King Edward III died and he was succeeded by 10-year-old King Richard II, the only surviving child of Thomas’ eldest sibling Edward, Prince of Wales (the Black Prince) who had predeceased his father. Richard’s coronation took place on July 16, 1377 at Westminster Abbey, just eleven days after his grandfather’s funeral. The quickness with which all this happened was certainly affected by the controversial succession of a child king whose father had not been the king. Some believed that one of King Edward III’s younger sons (there were three still alive: John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster; Edmund of Langley, Duke of York; and Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester) should be king. Thomas and his two surviving brothers were excluded from councils which ruled during Richard’s minority, but as the uncles of the king, they still held great informal influence over the business of government. Between 1377 and 1380, Thomas participated in the last battles of the first phase of the Hundred Years War. In 1377, at the age of 22, Thomas was knighted and created Earl of Buckingham. In 1385 he received the title Duke of Aumale and at about the same time was created Duke of Gloucester.

Since 1337, England had been fighting France in the Hundred Years’ War, and the English had been consistently losing territory to the French since 1369. Richard wanted to negotiate peace with France, but much of the nobility wanted to continue the war. In 1386, Parliament blamed Richard’s advisers for the military failures and accused them of misusing funds intended for the war. Parliament authorized a commission of nobles known as the Lords Appellant to take over management of the kingdom and act as Richard’s regents. There were originally three Lords Appellant and Thomas was one of them along with Richard FitzAlan, 11th Earl of Arundel and Thomas de Beauchamp, 12th Earl of Warwick. Later, Henry Bolingbroke, Earl of Derby (son of John of Gaunt, Richard’s first cousin and the future King Henry IV) and Thomas de Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk also became Lords Appellant. Richard did not recognize the authority of the Lords Appellant and started an unsuccessful military attempt to overthrow the Lords Appellant and negotiate peace with France. In 1387, the Lords Appellant launched an armed rebellion against King Richard and defeated an army under Robert de Vere, Earl of Oxford at the Battle of Radcot Bridge, outside Oxford. The Lords Appellant, with Thomas as the leader, controlled the government and maintained Richard as a figurehead with little real power.

Richard FitzAlan, 11th Earl of Arundel; Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester; Thomas de Mowbray, Earl of Nottingham; Henry, Earl of Derby (later Henry IV); and Thomas de Beauchamp, 12th Earl of Warwick, demand Richard II to let them prove by arms the justice for their rebellion, from A Chronicle of England: B.C. 55 – A.D. 1485, 1864; Credit – Wikipedia

In 1396, Thomas attended the second wedding of his nephew King Richard II with Isabella of Valois, although he disapproved of the match. He was becoming more and more unpopular at court and retired to Pleshey Castle pleading poor health. Richard was able to rebuild his power gradually until 1397, when he reasserted his authority and destroyed the principal three among the Lords Appellant. At Pleshey Castle, Thomas conspired with others to depose Richard, but he was betrayed by Thomas de Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk. King Richard II, leading an army went to Pleshey Castle where he persuaded Thomas to return with him to London. Thomas was arrested for treason on the journey and taken to Calais (France) where he was imprisoned and confessed. He died on September 8, 1397 at the age of 42 in Calais, probably murdered by a group of men led by Thomas de Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk, and Sir Nicholas Colfox, presumably on the orders of King Richard II. After Thomas’ death, his confession was read to Parliament and he was declared guilty of treason. He was attainted as a traitor and his title Duke of Gloucester, goods and estates were forfeited to the crown. Thomas’ remains were returned to England where they were buried in Westminster Abbey in the Chapel of St. Edmund the King and St. Thomas of Canterbury.

Murder of Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester from Froissart Chroniques, 15th century; Credit – Wikipedia

Thomas’ murder caused an outcry among the English nobility and added to Richard’s unpopularity. In 1399, Richard’s first cousin Henry of Bolingbroke, the eldest son of John of Gaunt, deposed Richard and succeeded to the throne as King Henry IV, the first King of the House of Lancaster. King Richard II was imprisoned at Pontefract Castle in Yorkshire where he died on or around February 14, 1400. The exact cause of his death, thought to have been starvation, is unknown. At the first Parliament of King Henry IV’s reign, the forfeiture of Thomas’ estates and goods was reversed. In addition, King Henry IV had his uncle’s remains moved to a grave closer to the shrine of Edward the Confessor in Westminster Abbey.

thomas-of-woodstock_grave

Grave of Thomas of Woodstock and his wife Eleanor de Bohn in Westminster Abbey; Photo Credit – www.findagrave.com

Wikipedia: Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester

Works Cited
Susan. “King Richard II of England.” British Royals. Unofficial Royalty, 26 July 2016. Web. 10 Dec. 2016.
“Thomas de Woodstock.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 15 Jan. 1355. Web. 10 Dec. 2016.
“Thomas of Woodstock, 1st duke of Gloucester.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 9 Dec. 2016. Web. 10 Dec. 2016.
Williamson, David. Brewer’s British Royalty. London: Cassell, 1996. Print.

Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York

by Susan Flantzer

Credit – Wikipedia

Edmund of Langley was born at Kings Langley Palace in England on June 5, 1341. He was the fifth son and the seventh child of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault. The infant was given a traditional English name and a tournament was held to celebrate the birth of a new son. Edmund was baptized by Michael of Mentmore, Abbot of St. Albans, who was also one of his godfathers along with John de Warenne, 7th Earl of Surrey and Richard FitzAlan, 1st Earl of Arundel. Edmund was brought up in his mother’s household until 1354.

Through the marriage of Edmund’s younger son, Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge, to Anne de Mortimer, great-granddaughter of Edmund’s elder brother Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence, the House of York made its claim to the English throne in the Wars of the Roses.  See Wikipedia: House of York – Descent from Edward III

Edmund had thirteen siblings:

Edmund participated with his father in a campaign in France from 1359 – 1360 during the Hundred Years’ War, a war fought between England and France for control of the Kingdom of France. It was ultimately an unsuccessful war for the English that involved King Edward III, his sons, and their descendants for a long period of time.

King Edward III had a plan to marry his sons off to rich heiresses and he thought he found one for Edmund in 1461. 15-year-old Philip I, Duke of Burgundy died in a riding accident leaving a 12-year-old widow, Margaret of Flanders, the only heir of Louis II, Count of Flanders. King Edward III thought Margaret would be a good catch, but also the lands of her father might help in Edward’s desire to possess the French crown. To help Edmund seem more desirable, he was created Earl of Cambridge. However, the marriage negotiations came to naught as King John II of France claimed Burgundy and married his son to Margaret.

Over the next ten years, Edmund participated in many military campaigns in France with his brothers. He returned to England in 1371 and on July 11, 1372 at Wallingford, Oxfordshire, he married Infanta Isabella of Castile. Isabella was the younger daughter of King Pedro the Cruel of Castile and León and the sister of Constance of Castile, the second wife of Edmund’s brother John of Gaunt. She had accompanied her sister Constance to England when the marriage to John of Gaunt had taken place in 1371.

Edmund and Isabella had three children:

Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge; Credit – Wikipedia

Edmund took part in more campaigns in France, served as Constable of Dover Castle, and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. In 1377, Edmund was granted Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire, which became a favorite home of the Dukes of York, and Anstey Castle in Hertfordshire. In the same year, Edmund’s nephew succeeded his grandfather as King Richard II of England. At Richard’s coronation, Edmund carried the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Dove, also called the Rod of Equity and Mercy. In 1381, Edmund served as chief commissioner in his nephew’s marriage negotiations to marry Anne of Bohemia. Edmund was created Duke of York in 1385.

Isabella died December 23, 1392 at about the age of 37. She was buried at the Church of the Dominicans in Kings Langley. Less than a year later, Edmund made a second marriage to Lady Joan Holland, whose father, Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent, was a half-brother to King Richard II. Edmund and Joan had no children.

King Richard II of England, Edmund’s nephew; Credit – Wikipedia

King Henry IV of England, Edmund’s nephew; Credit – Wikipedia

In 1399, Edmund was acting as regent while his nephew King Richard II was in Ireland. Henry of Bolingbroke, another nephew, the son of Edmund’s brother John of Gaunt, was planning to depose his cousin Richard. Edmund was prepared to oppose Henry, but instead decided to make peace with him. King Richard II eventually was abandoned by his supporters and was forced by Parliament on September 29, 1399 to abdicate the crown to his cousin Henry. King Henry IV, first king of the House of Lancaster, was crowned in Westminster Abbey of October 13, 1399. Richard was imprisoned at Pontefract Castle in Yorkshire where he died on or around February 14, 1400. The exact cause of his death, thought to have been starvation, is unknown. Edmund was rewarded by his nephew King Henry IV by being appointed a member of the Privy Council and Master of the Royal Mews.

Edmund of Langley, Duke of York, age 61, died on August 1, 1402 at his birthplace and was buried with his first wife at the Church of the Dominicans at Kings Langley. Edmund’s tomb was moved to the Church of All Saints in Kings Langley in 1575, and can still be seen there.

edmund-of-langley-tomb

Tomb of Edmund of Langley; Photo Credit – www.findagrave.com

Wikipedia: Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York

Works Cited
“Edmund of Langley, 1st duke of York.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 26 Oct. 2016. Web. 5 Dec. 2016.
“Isabella of Castile, Duchess of York.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 8 Sept. 2016. Web. 5 Dec. 2016.
“Joan Holland.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 9 Nov. 2016. Web. 5 Dec. 2016.
Jones, Dan. The Plantagenets. New York: Viking, 2012. Print.
Williamson, David. Brewer’s British Royalty. London: Cassell, 1996. Print.

John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster

by Susan Flantzer

circa 1593, probably modeled after John of Gaunt’s tomb effigy; Credit – Wikipedia

John of Gaunt was the fourth son but the third surviving son of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault. It is through John’s first marriage that the Duchy of Lancaster eventually became a possession of the British Crown. John is also quite important in royal genealogy. His daughter Catherine of Lancaster married King Enrique III of Castile, which made John the grandfather of King Juan II of Castile and the ancestor of all subsequent monarchs of Castile and a united Spain. His daughter Philippa of Lancaster married King João I of Portugal making all future Portuguese monarchs descendants of John. Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and her predecessors since King Henry IV are descended from John of Gaunt. In fact, most European monarchies are descended from John. The Houses of Lancaster, York and Tudor were all descended from John of Gaunt’s children:

John of Gaunt was born on March 6, 1340 at the Abbey of St. Bavon in Ghent, Flanders (now in Belgium). At the time of his birth, Ghent was known as Gaunt in English, hence his name, John of Gaunt. King Edward III and his wife were in Flanders to formally receive homage from the Count of Flanders and to have the cities of Ghent, Ypres and Bruges proclaim Edward III King of France. From 1337 to 1453, the English and the French fought the Hundred Years’ War for control of the Kingdom of France. It was ultimately an unsuccessful war for the English that involved King Edward III, his sons, and their descendants for a long period of time.

John had thirteen siblings:

John grew up in the household of his elder brother Edward, Prince of Wales (the Black Prince) where he received his knightly training. He experienced battle for the first time at the age of ten when he was on board a ship with his brother the Prince of Wales at the naval Battle of Winchelsea. When John was nineteen-years-old, he commanded, for the first time, his own troops during a grueling winter campaign in Normandy.

John’s father King Edward III and his eldest brother Edward, Prince of Wales (the Black Prince); Credit – Wikipedia

Following his father’s plan for his sons to marry wealthy heiresses, John married Blanche of Lancaster on May 19, 1359 in the Queen’s Chapel at Reading Abbey. The bride was 14 and the groom was 19. Blanche’s father was Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster, a great-grandson of King Henry III. Blanche had only one sibling, an elder sister Maud. Blanche and John were third cousins, both being great great grandchildren of King Henry III.  This was an excellent match for both Blanche and John.  Blanche was marrying into the royal family and John’s wealth was greatly increased by marrying one of the richest heiresses in England.

Marriage of John of Gaunt and Blanche of Lancaster, Photo: Wikipedia, painted by Horace Wright in 1914

Description of above painting from the Reading Museum where the painting is on display: In this painting John of Gaunt and his bride walk from beneath a gilded canopy towards the officiating Bishop of Salisbury. Four lords support the wedding canopy. The one nearest to Blanche is her father, Henry Duke of Lancaster. Close by is the poet Chaucer, clothed in black and bearing a scroll. On the throne is John’s father, King Edward III, beneath a crimson canopy decorated with the lions of England. Beside the King are two of the royal princes, Edward the Black Prince and Prince Lionel.

Blanche and John had seven children:

Blanche’s father died in 1361 and her sister died in 1362, making Blanche the sole heiress. At this time, it was common for extinct titles of heiresses’ fathers to pass to their husbands. John of Gaunt was created Duke of Lancaster on November 13, 1362. By that time, his wealth was immense. He owned thirty castles and estates in England and France. His household was comparable in size and organization to that of a monarch and his annual income between £8,000 and £10,000 a year which would be several million pounds in today’s terms. This was the beginning of today’s Duchy of Lancaster which descended to John of Gaunt’s son King Henry IV and has remained in the British Crown ever since.

The Duchy of Lancaster is one of the two royal duchies in England and is held in trust for the Sovereign to provide income for the use of the British monarch.  The other royal duchy is the Duchy of Cornwall which provides a similar purpose for the eldest son of the reigning British monarch.  The monarch, regardless of gender, has the style of Duke of Lancaster.  The duchy comprises of 46,000 acres and includes urban developments, historic buildings, and farm land in many parts of England and Wales, and large holdings in Lancashire.  At the end of March 2013, the Duchy of Lancaster had £428 million of net assets under its control. The Sovereign is not entitled to the capital of the Duchy’s portfolio or to capital profits.  Revenue profits are distributed to the Sovereign, and are subject to income tax.
Official Website: Duchy of Lancaster

Blanche died at age 23, possibly of the plague, on September 12, 1368 while John was away at sea. Her funeral was held at the Old St. Paul’s Cathedral attended by most of England’s nobility and clergy. John held annual commemorations of Blanche’s death for the rest of his life and had a magnificent double tomb built at St. Paul’s for Blanche and himself. Despite the fact that he married two more times, when John died in 1399, he was buried with Blanche.

John married again on September 21, 1371 to Infanta Constance of Castile, the daughter of Pedro the Cruel, King of Castile and León. Constance was the elder surviving daughter and co-heiress of her father. Her younger sister Isabella married John’s younger brother Edmund of Langley. In 1369, Pedro the Cruel, King of Castile and León had been killed by his half-brother who then assumed the throne of Castile and León. After his marriage to Constance, John assumed the style of King of Castile and León in the right of his wife. However, he was never able to gain the control of the kingdom and in 1388 renounced any claim in favor of King Enrique III, who later married Catherine of Lancaster, the daughter of John and Constance. Constance died on March 24, 1394 at Leicester Castle in England at the age of 40. She was buried at the Church of the Annunciation of Our Lady of the Newarke in Leicester, England where several of the Lancasters were buried.

Constance and John had two children:

Constance of Castile; Credit – Wikipedia

During the 1370s and the 1380s, John was one of England’s principal military commanders, but he never received the acclaim that his elder brother Edward the Black Prince received. In August of 1373, John invaded France and marched unopposed from Calais on the English Channel to Bordeaux in Aquitaine, a distance of 550 miles. He negotiated a truce with France which was concluded at Bruges, Flanders in 1375. From 1374 until 1377, John was effectively the head of the English government due to the illness of his father and elder brother, who were unable to exercise authority. On June 8, 1376, at the age of 45, John’s eldest brother and heir to the throne, Edward, Prince of Wales (the Black Prince) died at the age of 45. The heir to the throne became Edward’s only surviving child, nine-year-old Richard. A year later King Edward III died and was succeeded by his ten-year-old grandson as King Richard II. At King Richard II’s coronation, John acted as High Steward, carried the Sword of Mercy, and carved at the coronation banquet.

Richard’s coronation took place on July 16, 1377 at Westminster Abbey, just eleven days after his grandfather’s funeral. The quickness with which all this happened was certainly affected by the controversial succession of a child king whose father had not been the king. Some believed that one of King Edward III’s younger sons (there were three still alive: John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster; Edmund of Langley, Duke of York; and Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester) should be king. Parliament, who was in a dispute with John of Gaunt at that time, supported Richard’s accession to the throne. John of Gaunt and his two brothers were excluded from councils which ruled during Richard’s minority, but as the uncles of the king, they still held great informal influence over the business of government.

Since 1337, England had been fighting France in the Hundred Years’ War, and the English had been consistently losing territory to the French since 1369. King Richard II wanted to negotiate peace with France, but much of the nobility wanted to continue the war. In 1386, Parliament blamed Richard’s advisers for the military failures and accused them of misusing funds intended for the war. Parliament authorized a commission of nobles known as the Lords Appellant to take over management of the kingdom and act as Richard’s regents. In 1387, the Lords Appellant launched an armed rebellion against King Richard II and defeated an army loyal to him at the Battle of Radcot Bridge, outside Oxford. They maintained Richard as a figurehead with little real power. Parliament convicted almost all of Richard’s advisers of treason. Most of the advisers were executed and a few were exiled.

Richard’s uncle John of Gaunt had left England in 1386 to seek the throne of Castile, claimed by right of his second wife, Constance of Castile, whom he had married in 1371. Because of the crisis in England, in 1389, John of Gaunt, returned from Castile and King Richard II was then able to rebuild his power gradually until 1397, when he reasserted his authority and destroyed the principal three men among the Lords Appellant.

Katherine Swynford, John’s longtime mistress, was his third wife. They married on January 13, 1396 at Lincoln Cathedral in England. Katherine originally was a governess to John’s daughters Philippa and Elizabeth by his first wife. Some time after the death of Blanche of Lancaster in 1368 and the birth of John and Katherine’s first child in 1373, John and Katherine began an affair which produced four children. The children were given the surname “Beaufort” after a former French possession of John. After the marriage of John and Katherine, their four children were legitimized by both King Richard II of England and Pope Boniface IX.  After John’s eldest son deposed his first cousin King Richard II in 1399, the new King Henry IV inserted a phrase excepta regali dignitate (“except royal status”) in the documents which legitimized his Beaufort half-siblings which barred them from the throne.

John and Katherine had three sons and one daughter:

John of Gaunt died on February 3, 1399 at Leicester Castle in England at the age 58. His nephew King Richard II had visited John before his death. Despite the fact that he married two more times, John was buried with his first wife Blanche at Old St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Unfortunately, the Great Fire of 1666 destroyed Old St. Paul’s Cathedral and the magnificent tomb of Blanche and John.  Katherine Swynford, John’s widow, survived him for four years, dying May 10, 1403.  She was buried at Lincoln Cathedral.

Tomb of Blanche of Lancaster and John of Gaunt, destroyed during Great Fire of London of 1666. Photo: Wikipedia

Wikipedia: John of Gaunt

Works Cited
Abrufstatistik. “John of Gaunt, 1. Duke of Lancaster.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2016.
“John of gaunt.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 16 Nov. 2016. Web. 5 Dec. 2016.
Jones, Dan. The Plantagenets. New York: Viking, 2012. Print.
“Katherine Swynford.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 16 Nov. 2016. Web. 5 Dec. 2016.
Williamson, David. Brewer’s British Royalty. London: Cassell, 1996. Print.

Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence

by Susan Flantzer

19th-century drawing of bronze statuette of Lionel, Duke of Clarence on south side of tomb of his father King Edward III at Westminster Abbey; Credit – Wikipedia

The third, but second surviving son of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault, Lionel of Antwerp, was one of the two people on whom the House of York would base its claim to the English throne. Lionel was born on November 29, 1338 in Antwerp, Duchy of Brabant (now Belgium). Lionel’s birth in Antwerp was due to his parents’ long stay in the Low Countries due to England’s war against France (the Hundred Years War). King Edward III loved the legends of King Arthur. During the 1330s, King Edward III identified himself with one of the Knights of the Round Table, Sir Lionel  and appeared incognito as “Sir Lionel” at tournaments. It is probable that this is where Lionel’s name originated.

Lionel had thirteen siblings:

When Lionel was only three years old, his father arranged a marriage to a wealthy heiress. In 1332, the young William de Burgh, 3rd Earl of Ulster and 4th Baron of Connaught and the head of one of the greatest of the Anglo-Norman houses in Ireland, had been murdered, leaving one child, a daughter Elizabeth de Burgh, by his wife Maud of Lancaster.  After her husband’s murder, Maud fled to England with her infant daughter, who was the suo jure (in her own right) 4th Countess of Ulster, and they lived at the court of King Edward III.

Four-year-old Lionel and ten-year-old Elizabeth de Burgh, 4th Countess of Ulster were married at the Tower of London on September 9, 1342, but the marriage was not consummated until Lionel was 14 and Elizabeth was 20. Lionel came into the possession of Elizabeth’s Irish lands and was jure uxoris (by right of his wife) Earl of Ulster. He also gained lands in Ireland and Suffolk, England in the right of his wife’s grandmother Elizabeth de Clare.  In 1362, Lionel was created Duke of Clarence with “Clarence” referring to the lands of the de Clare family. Lionel served as Chief Governor of Ireland for a good part of the 1360s.

Lionel and Elizabeth had one child, a daughter Philippa, who was born on August 16, 1355 at Eltham Palace in Kent, England. Philippa married Edmund Mortimer, 3rd Earl of March.  It is through Philippa and Edmund’s eldest son Roger de Mortimer that the House of York is derived. Roger de Mortimer eventually inherited his father and mother’s titles and was the 4th Earl of March and 6th Earl of Ulster. During the reign of the childless King Richard II, the only surviving child of Edward, Prince of Wales (the Black Prince) who predeceased his father King Edward III, Lionel’s daughter Philippa was the heir presumptive to the English throne and then after her death in 1382, her eldest son Roger was the heir presumptive. In 1400, King Richard II was deposed by Henry of Bolingbroke (King Henry IV), the eldest son of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster who was King Edward III’s third surviving son.

Roger de Mortimer’s daughter and eventual heir, Anne de Mortimer married Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge, the second son of Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, the fourth surviving son of King Edward III. Richard of Conisburgh’s elder brother Edward of Norwich, 2nd Duke of York died at the Battle of Agincourt and had no issue, so Richard was his father’s heir.  Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York was the other person on whom the House of York would base its claim to the English throne.  Anne Mortimer and Richard of Conisburgh’s son was Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York who was the major player in the Wars of the Roses for the House of York until his death in battle. His sons were the Yorkist kings, King Edward IV and King Richard III. The Wars of the Roses, the battle for the English throne, was fought by the House of York which had claims through the second surviving son and the fourth surviving son of King Edward III and the House of Lancaster which had a claim through the third surviving son of King Edward III.  A family tree can seen at Wikipedia: Family Tree .

Lionel of Antwerp’s efforts to secure authority over his Irish lands were only moderately successful. His wife Elizabeth died in 1363, and in 1366, he abandoned his mission in Ireland and returned to England. In 1368, Lionel made another marriage with an heiress. 13-year-old Violante Visconti was the daughter of Galeazzo II Visconti, Lord of Milan and Pavia and came with a very large dowry. A lavish wedding with many celebrations was held in Milan (Italy). However, the marriage lasted only five months. On October 17, 1368, 29-year-old Lionel died in Alba, Piedmont (Italy). Speculation that Lionel’s father-in-law had him poisoned have never been proven. Lionel’s remains were returned to England where he was buried at Clare Priory in Suffolk, England where his wife Elizabeth de Burgh was also buried. Clare Priory was suppressed and partially destroyed under King Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Ruins of Clare Priory; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence

Works Cited
Jones, Dan. The Plantagenets. New York: Viking, 2012. Print.
“Lionel of Antwerp, 1st duke of Clarence.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 25 Nov. 2016. Web. 3 Dec. 2016.
Williamson, David. Brewer’s British Royalty. London: Cassell, 1996. Print.

Joan of Kent, 4th Countess of Kent, Princess of Wales

by Susan Flantzer

Joan of Kent was born September 29, 1328 at Woodstock Palace near Oxford in Oxfordshire, England. She was the third of the four children of Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent and Margaret Wake, 3rd Baroness Wake of Liddell.  Joan’s father was the younger of the two sons of King Edward I of England and his second wife, Margaret of France and was, therefore, a half-brother of King Edward II.

Through her second marriage to the eldest son of King Edward III, Edward, Prince of Wales (the Black Prince), Joan became the very first Princess of Wales. Besides Joan, there have been nine women who were Princess of Wales by their marriages to the Prince of Wales:

  • Anne Neville, wife of Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales (never became king, son of King Henry VI)
  • Catherine of Aragon, wife of Arthur, Prince of Wales (predeceased his father King Henry VII)
  • Caroline of Ansbach, wife of George, Prince of Wales (son of King George I, acceded to throne as King George II)
  • Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, wife of Frederick, Prince of Wales (predeceased his father King George II)
  • Caroline of Brunswick, wife of George, Prince of Wales (son of King George III, acceded to throne as King George IV)
  • Alexandra of Denmark, wife Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (son of Queen Victoria, acceded to throne as King Edward VII)
  • Mary of Teck, wife of George, Prince of Wales (son of King Edward VII, acceded to throne as King George V)
  • Lady Diana Spencer, first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales (son of Queen Elizabeth II, divorced August 28, 1996)
  • Camilla Parker Bowles, second wife of Charles, Prince of Wales (son of Queen Elizabeth II), does not use the title Princess of Wales, known instead as the Duchess of Cornwall

Joan had three siblings:

Joan’s father Edmund, 1st Earl of Kent played an important role during the reign of his half-brother King Edward II, acting both as a diplomat and a military commander. Three years after King Edward II was deposed by his wife Isabella of France and her lover Roger Mortimer and Edward II and Isabella’s 15-year-old son succeeded as King Edward III, Edmund was accused of high treason on charges of having attempted to free the former king from imprisonment. It later emerged that Roger Mortimer himself was responsible for leading Edmund into the plot to free the former king, in a form of entrapment.  Edmund, 1st Earl of Kent was executed at Winchester Castle on March 19, 1330. Joan’s mother Margaret was pregnant at the time of her husband’s execution and was confined to Arundel Castle with her young children where her last child was born.

After Edmund’s execution, the nobles begged the young King Edward III to assert his independence, which he did shortly before his 18th birthday. In October of 1330, a Parliament was summoned to Nottingham Castle, and Mortimer and Isabella were seized by Edward and the nobles. Isabella begged for mercy for Mortimer, but he was accused of assuming royal power and of various other crimes and was condemned without trial and hanged. Isabella was held under a comfortable house arrest until her death in 1358. After King Edward III regained his independence from his mother and Mortimer, he took in Margaret and her children and treated them as his own family. Joan and her siblings grew up with Edward III’s children, including Edward, Prince of Wales, Joan’s future husband.

Joan’s elder brother, five-year-old Edmund, inherited the Earldom of Kent in 1331, a year after his father had been attainted. His mother petitioned King Edward III who reversed the condemnation of Edmund, 1st Earl of Kent and recognized his heir as Earl of Kent. Little Edmund 2nd Earl of Kent died shortly afterward and his infant brother John became the 3rd Earl of Kent. Joan’s mother Margaret briefly succeeded her brother as 3rd Baroness Wake of Liddell in 1349, but died during an outbreak of the plague that autumn. Upon his mother’s death,  John, 3rd Earl of Kent succeeded his mother as 4th Baron Wake of Liddell. John, 3rd Earl of Kent and 4th Baron Wake of Liddell died in 1352 and his only surviving sibling, Joan became 4th Countess of Kent and 5th Baroness Wake of Liddell.

In 1340, 12-year-old Joan secretly married Thomas Holland without permission from King Edward III as was required. Thomas then left for overseas military duty and the Crusades. A year or two later, Joan was forced by her family to marry William de Montagu, 2nd Earl of Salisbury.  Lord Salisbury entered into the marriage in good faith, without knowing that Joan had secretly married Thomas Holland. Upon returning to England in 1348, Thomas Holland declared that Joan was his wife and demanded that she be restored to him. An inquiry determined that Joan had indeed been married to Thomas Holland and that that marriage was valid, and therefore, Lord Salisbury’s marriage to Joan was invalid. In 1352, when his brother-in-law John, 3rd Earl of Kent died, Thomas Holland became Earl of Kent in right of his wife. The couple remained together for eleven years until the death of Thomas Holland on December 26, 1360.

Thomas Holland from the Bruges Garter Book, 1430/1440; Credit – Wikipedia

Joan and Thomas had five children. Through the daughters of their son Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent, they are the ancestors of many prominent figures in the Wars of the Roses, including Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York (father of King Edward IV and King Richard III), Henry Tudor (later King Henry VII) and his wife Elizabeth of York (daughter of King Edward IV), Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick (the Kingmaker) and his daughter Anne Neville (wife of King Richard III). They were also ancestors of Catherine Parr, the sixth and last wife of King Henry VIII.

Joan was a widow for less than a year before she married Edward, Prince of Wales (the Black Prince), her first cousin once removed and the son and heir of King Edward III of England, on October 10, 1361 at Windsor Castle. In 1362, Edward was invested as Prince of Aquitaine, a region of France which belonged to the English crown since the marriage of Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine and King Henry II.  Joan and Edward then moved to Bordeaux, the capital of Aquitaine, where they spent the next nine years. Both of their children were born in France:

Edward of Angouleme and Joan of Kent, depicted  on the Wilton diptych, 1395; Credit – Wikipedia

Richard II of England, portrait at Westminster Abbey, mid-1390s; Credit – Wikipedia

On June 7, 1376, a week before his forty-sixth birthday, Edward, Prince of Wales died at the Palace of Westminster after suffering from an illness for ten years. His father King Edward III died a year later, on June 21, 1377, and was succeeded by his ten-year-old grandson King Richard II, the surviving son of Joan and Edward.

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Tomb of Edward, Prince of Wales at Canterbury Cathedral; Photo Credit – Susan Flantzer

Joan died at the age of 57 on August 7, 1385 at Wallingford Castle. She requested to be buried beside her first husband at the Church of the Greyfriars, a Franciscan friary in Stamford, Lincolnshire, England which was destroyed during King Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Wikipedia: Joan of Kent

Works Cited
Joan. “Jeanne de Kent.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 7 Oct. 1328. Web. 3 Dec. 2016.
“Joan of Kent.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 31 Oct. 2016. Web. 3 Dec. 2016.
Williamson, David. Brewer’s British Royalty. London: Cassell, 1996. Print.

Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales (The Black Prince)

by Susan Flantzer

Edward, Prince of Wales as Knight of the Order of the Garter, illustration from the Bruges Garter Book 1453; Credit -Wikipedia

Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales was born at Woodstock Palace near Oxford in Oxfordshire, England on June 15, 1330. He was the eldest of the fourteen children of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault. Today, Edward of Woodstock is commonly referred to as “The Black Prince” although he was not called that in his lifetime. The first appearance of the reference occurred more than 150 years after his death. It is thought it may refer to Edward’s black shield, and/or his black armor or from his brutal reputation, particularly towards the French in Aquitaine.

Edward of Woodstock was one of the seven Princes of Wales who never became King. The others are:

Edward had thirteen siblings:

In 1333, three-year-old Edward was created Earl of Chester and four years later, he was created Duke of Cornwall, the first creation of a dukedom in England. In 1343, he was created Prince of Wales.  Marriage negotiations for a bride for Edward started when he was seven-years-old. His father’s first choice was a French princess, hoping that such a marriage would break up France and Scotland’s alliance, but nothing came of this possibility. Likewise, nothing came of negotiations with King Afonso IV of Portugal or John III, Duke of Brabant for the hands of their daughters.

Queen Philippa chose her almoner, philosopher Walter Burley, as Edward’s tutor. Edward was educated with a small group of companions. One of these companions, Simon de Burley,  a relative of Walter Burley, became a life-long friend of Edward and later was trusted with the education of Edward’s son, the future King Richard II. Edward’s knightly and military training was conducted by Walter Manny, 1st Baron Manny.  Manny taught Edward the code of chivalry as well as the art of jousting. Edward participated in small tournaments and served as a page to his father at large tournaments.

Battle of Crécy from an illuminated manuscript of Jean Froissart’s Chronicles; Credit – Wikipedia

Best known for his military career in the Hundred Years War, Edward accompanied his father to France in the summer of 1346 and participated in the Battle of Crécy, his first major battle, on August 26, 1346, where the English had a decisive victory. 16-year-old Edward, Prince of Wales commanded the vanguard with John de Vere, 7th Earl of Oxford, Thomas de Beauchamp, 11th Earl of Warwick, and Sir John Chandos.  Edward was one of the 25 founding knights (the second knight after his father King Edward III) of the Order of the Garter in 1348. On September 19, 1356, Edward distinguished himself by winning a great victory at the Battle of Poitiers where he took King John II of France prisoner. Edward served as Lieutenant of Aquitaine from 1355 – 1372 and was created Prince of Aquitaine in 1362.

Edward, the Black Prince, is granted Aquitaine by his father King Edward III; Credit – Wikipedia

Edward married Joan, 4th Countess of Kent, his father’s first cousin, on October 10, 1361 at Windsor Castle.  Joan was the daughter and heiress of Edmund of Woodstock, Earl of Kent, the younger son of King Edward I of England by his second wife Margaret of France. In 1362, Edward was invested as Prince of Aquitaine, a region of France which belonged to the English crown since the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine and King Henry II.  Joan and Edward then moved to Bordeaux, the capital of Aquitaine, where they spent the next nine years. Both of their children were born in France:

Edward of Angouleme and Joan of Kent, depicted on the Wilton diptych, 1395; Credit – Wikipedia

Richard II of England, portrait at Westminster Abbey, mid-1390s; Credit – Wikipedia

Around the time of the birth of his younger son, Edward was lured into an unsuccessful war on behalf of King Pedro of Castile.  Edward contracted an illness during this war that ailed him until his death in 1376. It was believed that he contracted dysentery, which killed more medieval soldiers than battle, but it is unlikely that he could survive a ten-year battle with dysentery. Other possible diagnoses include edema, nephritis, or cirrhosis. By 1371, Edward was no longer able to perform his duties as Prince of Aquitaine and returned to England. In 1372, he forced himself to attempt one final campaign in the hope of saving his father’s French possessions, but the prevailing winds off the shores of France prevented the ships from landing and the campaign was aborted.

Edward’s health was now completely shattered. On June 7, 1376, a week before his forty-sixth birthday, Edward died at the Palace of Westminster. His father King Edward III died a year later, on June 21, 1377, and was succeeded by his ten-year-old grandson King Richard II, the surviving son of Edward the Black Prince. Edward had requested to be buried in the crypt at Canterbury Cathedral. However, his request was overruled and he was buried in a tomb with a bronze effigy on the south side of the shrine of Thomas Becket behind the choir. Edward’s heraldic helmet and gauntlets were placed above his tomb. Today, replicas hang above his tomb and the originals are in a glass case nearby. The epitaph inscribed around his effigy:

Such as thou art, sometime was I.
Such as I am, such shalt thou be.
I thought little on th’our of Death
So long as I enjoyed breath.
On earth I had great riches
Land, houses, great treasure, horses, money and gold.
But now a wretched captive am I,
Deep in the ground, lo here I lie.
My beauty great, is all quite gone,
My flesh is wasted to the bone.

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Tomb of Edward the Black Prince; Photo Credit – Susan Flantzer

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Replicas of Edward’s heraldic helmet, gauntlets, etc. above his tomb; Photo Credit – Susan Flantzer

Wikipedia: Edward the Black Prince

Works Cited
“Edward, the black prince.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 13 Nov. 2016. Web. 1 Dec. 2016.
Joelson, Annette. England’s Princes of Wales. New York: Dorset Press, 1966. Print.
Toulouse illustrée, Histoire de. “Édouard de Woodstock.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 23 June 1330. Web. 1 Dec. 2016.
Williamson, David. Brewer’s British Royalty. London: Cassell, 1996. Print.

Philippa of England, Queen of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway

by Susan Flantzer

Philippa by Reinhold Callmander on a window above her grave, 1890s; By Mariusz Paździora (photo); Reinhold Callmander (painting) – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6100584

Philippa of England was the second daughter and the sixth and youngest child of King Henry IV of England and his first wife Mary de Bohun, a rich heiress. Mary never became Queen of England because she died before her husband became King, shortly after Philippa’s birth at Peterborough Castle on June 4, 1394. When Philippa was five years old, her father deposed his first cousin King Richard II and became King Henry IV. Not much is known about Philippa’s childhood other than that she attended her father’s second marriage in 1403 to Joan of Navarre and that she made a pilgrimage to Canterbury in the same year. She mostly lived at Berkhamsted Castle and Windsor Castle.

Philippa had five siblings. Her father’s second marriage was childless.

Early in his reign, Henry IV tried to negotiate an alliance between England and the Kalmar Union, which united Denmark, Sweden, and Norway into one kingdom, with Queen Margrethe I of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. He suggested a marriage between two of his children, his eldest son and heir Henry (the future King Henry V) and Philippa, with Margrethe I’s great niece and great nephew, Catherine of Pomerania and Eric of Pomerania. Terms for the marriages were not agreed upon at that time, however, in 1405, a marriage between Philippa and Eric of Pomerania, who was the heir to his great aunt’s throne, was arranged. Eleven-year-old Philippa was married by proxy to 24-year-old Eric on November 26, 1405 at Westminster Abbey in London. Philippa was formerly proclaimed Queen of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway on December 8. 1405 in the presence of the Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian ambassadors.

In August of 1406, Philippa left England to travel to Sweden and married Eric of Pomerania in person on October 26, 1406 at Lund Cathedral in Lund, Sweden. Documentation from the wedding indicates that Philippa wore a tunic with a cloak in white silk bordered with gray squirrel and ermine, making her the first documented princess to wear a white wedding dress. On November 1, 1406, Philippa was crowned Queen of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.

Eric of Pomerania; Credit – Wikipedia

Philippa was actively involved in state affairs. She was given large tracts of land in Sweden as her dower lands and acted as her husband’s representative in Sweden, where she spent much time. Her particular interest in Sweden was Vadstena Abbey, which came to be a refuge for her and a base whenever she was in Sweden. Philippa was regent for Denmark, Sweden, and Norway during Eric’s pilgrimage to Jerusalem from 1423 to 1425. Even after Eric returned from his pilgrimage, Philippa continued her commitment to the kingdom. She resolved disputes among her subjects, and in 1428 organized she successfully defended Copenhagen against attacking forces from the Hanseatic League cities.

After 23 years of marriage, Philippa gave birth, for the first and last time, to a stillborn boy in 1429. Her health deteriorated after the stillbirth and during a visit to Vadstena Abbey, Philippa died on January 5, 1430 at the age of 35. Her death was a great loss to both her husband Eric and the monarchy. She was buried in St. Anna’s Chapel, which she had built at the Vadstena Abbey church. In Philippa’s memory, Eric gave a generous sum of money to the abbey. In return, he demanded that the abbey employ ten priests who would pray and sing psalms around the clock for the salvation of Philippa’s soul. It turned out to be a very stressful “gift” for the abbey.

Gravestones of Queen Philippa at Vadnesta Abbey; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Wikipedia: Philippa of England

Works Cited
“Philippa of England.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, 7 Sept. 2016. Web. 20 Nov. 2016.
“Philippa af England.” Wikipedia. N.p.: Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2016.
Williamson, David. Brewer’s British Royalty. London: Cassell, 1996. Print.

“Victoria” on PBS in the USA and Unofficial Royalty’s Queen Victoria Resources

Queen Victoria replica by Sir George Hayter, oil on canvas, 1863 (1838), NPG 1250 © National Portrait Gallery, London

The much-anticipated series about Queen Victoria, Victoria, will begin an eight-week run on Masterpiece on PBS stations in the United States on Sunday, January 15, 2017 and continue through March 5, 2017. Check your local PBS station for the dates and time. The series was shown on ITV in the United Kingdom from August 28, 2016 through October 9, 2016. Jenna Coleman, who was in Doctor Who for three years, plays Queen Victoria. ITV has renewed Victoria for a second season, so we can expect to see the second season sometime in the future on PBS.

Here at Unofficial Royalty, we have a number of Queen Victoria resources. Please check out the links below. Enjoy!

Breaking News: Lord Snowdon, former husband of the late Princess Margaret, has died

Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon with Lyndon B. Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson at the White House in 1965; Photo Credit – Wikipedia

Antony Charles Robert Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon, the husband of the late Princess Margaret, the only sibling of Queen Elizabeth II, died peacefully at his home on January 13, 2017 at the age of 86.  Lord Snowdon and Princess Margaret married on May 6, 1960 and divorced in 1978.  The couple had two children, David Armstrong-Jones, who will succeed his father as 2nd Earl of Snowdon, and Lady Sarah Chatto.  In 1978, Lord Snowdon married Lucy Mary Lindsay-Hogg and they had one daughter, Lady Frances Armstrong-Jones.  His second marriage ended in divorce in 2000.