John of Gaunt – the Beaufort family.

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Possible image of Katherine Swynford

John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford began an affair after Blanche of Lancaster and Katherine’s husband Hugh had both died.  Their affair continued for a decade from   1372  until 1382 when in the aftermath of the Peasant’s Revolt John sent Katherine a quitclaim severing all ties with her.  Having said that the records show that Katherine was very much present in the lives of Henry of Bolingbroke and his wife Mary de Bohun.  It was only after Constanza of Castile died that John renewed his relationship with Katherine – this time making her his wife much to the surprise of everyone else.

The duke of Lancaster marriedhis mistress  Catherine de Roet{widow of Hugh Swinford), which caused indignation among many great ladies, as the duchess of Gloucester, the countess of Derby and the countess of Arundel, who said that they would never come into any place where she should be present.

Froissart

Katherine was approximately forty-six so there was no question of another family.  However, Katherine already had four surviving children by John of Gaunt: John, Henry, Thomas and Joan – all of whom were acknowledged and provided for by John.  Their surname Beaufort probably came from their father’s lost lordship in Anjou – meaning that they would never have any claim on the lands of his first family through Blanche of Lancaster.

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John Beaufort Earl of Somerset

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Joan Beaufort

In September 1396 a papal bull  was issued by Pope Boniface IX legitimising the Beaufort brood.  This was followed the next year in February 1397  by a royal patent issued by Richard II legitimising the family.  The patent was read out in Parliament giving it the force of law.  When Henry IV later scribbled in the margins of the patent that the Beaufort were legitimate in every aspect of law apart from inheritance of the throne he did not have the amendment read out in Parliament – thus it was not a law – and still causes dissent between supporters of the Houses of York and Lancaster.  The family tree below can be downloaded and viewed in a larger scale if you wish.
John Beaufort was either born at the end of 1372 or by March 1383.  Henry was born between 1374 and 1375, Thomas was born in 1377 and Joan, pictured in this post with her daughters, was born in 1379.
John Beaufort became the 1st Beaufort earl of Somerset.  He served both Richard II and Henry IV.  He fought against Owen Glyn Dwr and also against the French in the Hundred Years War.  His brother Henry was a scholar who entered the church.  His was a political career that had an impact on the growing inter family rivalries of the period.  He was also intent on building the Beaufort family fortunes.  Henry at least does not knot the Plantagenet family tree into any more tangles but John married Margaret Holland. They had six children.  Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry Tudor, is descended from John and Margaret.  I will post about this branch of the family tree in due course.
Margaret Holland is part of the Plantagenet family.  Her grandmother was Joan of Kent.  Her father was  Joan’s son Thomas Holland, the Second earl of Kent – so a descendant of King Edward I by his second wife Margaret of France.  Margaret’s mother was Alice FitzAlan, the daughter of the tenth Earl of Arundel and his wife Eleanor of Lancaster – the grand daughter of Edmund Crouchback and great grand daughter of Henry III.  All I can say is that the demand for papal dispensations must have been huge in the Plantagenet family.
Meanwhile Thomas Beaufort was part of the Lancaster entourage and a close friend of Henry of Monmouth.  In 1410 he became the Lord Chancellor, went to war against the French and also the Welsh during Owen Glyn Dwr’s rebellion and was an active military leader against the northern rebels led by the Earl of Northumberland and Archbishop Scrope.  In 1412 he was made Earl of Dorset under the rule of his friend Henry of Monmouth he became the Duke of Exeter.
After Henry V died Thomas Beaufort was one of the executor’s of the king’s will so was on the regency council in 1422.  In 1426 he died having been predeceased by his wife Margaret Neville of Hornby.  Their son Henry died young.
Of John’s children with Katherine Swynford this leaves Joan Beaufort.  My next post will be about her.

 

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