Joan Beaufort – a love story

Joan – the daughter of John Beaufort the first Earl of Somerset (John of Gaunt’s eldest son with Katherine Swynford) married James Stewart in February 1424. James was James I of Scotland and had the misfortune to be captured by Henry IV when he was a child on his way to safety in France. He’d been proclaimed king of Scotland in 1406 aged eleven but not released until the June of the same year that he married Joan – so whilst it was a love match it was also very convenient for Henry VI’s regency council and for Cardinal Henry Beaufort who was doing his level best to elevate and enrich the Beaufort family. Ultimately it meant that the King of Scotland was tied to the Plantagenets through marriage to Henry’s cousin. He was also required to pay a hefty ransom and sent back to Scotland to create some order from the anarchy into which it had descended.

The love element of the romance is recorded in a poem written by James called The Kingis Quair. Apparently he saw Joan for the first time when he looked out of his window at Windsor and saw her walking her dog in the garden below. Before long he was dropping roses from his window so that he beloved could pick them up on her morning perambulations. When the household came together to dine that evening she was wearing the first of the roses pinned to her dress. The rest, as they say, is history. There was a brief interlude whilst James joined Henry V in the Hundred Years War – a ploy to stop the Scots from joining in the war on the side of the French.

Unfortunately for the happy couple James who had been educated in England had developed a taste for English forms of government which did not go down particularly with with his nobles. One of the first things James did on return to Scotland was to curtail the power of the Albany Stewarts – he had a fair few of them executed. He also restricted the power of the Church in Scottish affairs. Essentially James was a strong monarch which made him popular with the commons, especially when he sought to reform the legal system and its application but less popular with his extended family.

It is perhaps not too surprising that there was an attempted coup led by the Earl of Atholl – who fancied the crown for himself. He was staying in Perth Priory with Joan when the conspirators struck having bribed someone to let them in. The royal couple heard the sound of feet on the paved floor, knew that it represented danger but on seeking to bar the door discovered that the all important bar was missing. Joan’s lady in waiting- thrust her own arm through the bars in a bid to slow down James’ assassins whilst James used a poker to prise up the floor boards so he could escape.

James fled to the vaults beneath the priory and the place he had been using as a tennis court. Lady Kate Douglas’s arm was broken when the conspirators finally forced an entry. He sought to escape and headed into a drain – which he had unfortunately had netted off as his tennis balls kept disappearing down there. As for Joan who attempted to save her husband, she was injured but managed to escape. She went immediately to her son James, secured the throne and then demonstrated her descent from Edward I and John of Gaunt by taking a bloody revenge on the men who had killed her husband.

Joan oversaw the hunt for James’ murderers and their torture and their executions. It was a three day affair; on the first day he was put in a cart with a crane and then pulled between the cart and the crane – think of it as a travelling rack. He was then put in the pillory and made to wear a burning crown of iron. On the second day he was dragged on a hurdle through Edinburgh – and presumably pelted with lots of unpleasant things. On the third day he was disembowelled and then his heart torn out and burned – and if that doesn’t put you off breakfast nothing will.

Joan’s family of Stewarts were as follows – the marriages of the girls demonstrate how the daughters of a monarch became international rather than national pawns in treaties. Margaret who married Louis of France. He became Louis XI but the marriage was childless and it is thought unhappy. Margaret was eleven when she went to France and was immediately popular with the french court for her doll like beauty.

Isabella married the Duke of Brittany and had two daughters, the younger of whom married her first cousin once removed – so became the duchess of Brittany in a country that did adhere (sort of) to a salic law. The pair had one son who died young.

Eleanor married the Archduke of Austria – there were no children. Mary, a younger sister, married a count of Zeeland but had not children who survived infancy and Annabella (Jean in some sources) was married to a Count of Geneva who went on to become the King of Cyprus. This match was dissolved and Annabella found herself back in Scotland married into the Gordon family.

Joan, who was mute, remained in Scotland and married the earl of Morton. One of her children married Patrick Hepburn , first Earl of Bothwell. The pair had a daughter who married into the Seton family. The Setons would play an important role in the attempts by Mary Queen of Scots to involve the Spanish in plots to free her from English captivity. The family would also play an important role in the household of James VI of Scotland (1st of England.) Unsurprisingly the family were also Royalist in their allegiances during the English Civil War – which is perhaps better described as the Wars of the Three Kingdoms.

There were four daughters born before twin boys born in 1430. Alexander died the same year. His younger brother would become James II of Scotland. His grandson James IV married Margaret Tudor – so all those Stewart and Hanoverian kings of England have a little Plantagenet blood in their veins thanks to Queen Joan Beaufort.

Joan married for a second time to James Stewart the Black Knight of Lorne with whom she had three sons. The youngest became the Bishop of Moray but the eldest became the ancestor of the Dukes of Atholl.

Weir, Alison. Britain’s Royal Families.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Stewart,_Earl_of_Atholl

Earls and Dukes of Somerset -Beaufort

We are almost at the end of the series of posts about John of Gaunt’s Plantagenet descendants. Today this post will look at the line descended from John Beaufort the eldest son of John with Katherine Swynford. He served Richard II and also his own half brother Henry IV. He was born in 1373 and we know that he was raised to be a warrior – in 1390 there’s a reference to him jousting.

In February 1397 he was created an earl becoming the 1st Earl of Somerset, Marquis of Dorset and Lord High Admiral of England.  He also married Margaret Holland (the Hollands get everywhere – this one was the daughter of Thomas Earl of Kent, so a grand daughter of Joan of Kent and yet another cousin of sorts.) John died in 1410 and she would go on to marry Thomas of Lancaster – the son of Henry IV. John and Margaret had six children.

Henry succeeded his father but died without heirs in 1418. He was killed at the Siege of Rouen where he had gone with his uncle Thomas Beaufort the Duke of Exeter. Henry was succeeded in turn by his brother John who became the 3rd earl but the 1st Duke of Somerset. John fought in the Hundred Years War but wasn’t terribly successful so it is thought that his died by his own hand leaving a daughter to succeed him – Her name was Lady Margaret Beaufort and she would be the link by which the Tudors claimed the throne when Henry Tudor, Margaret’s son, won the Battle of Bosworth in August 1485. This post is not the time to discuss the Beaufort claim to the throne or the legitimacy of it – suffice to say she was Plantagenet.

Somehow I managed to miss Thomas, born in 1405 or there about, off the family tree but he died without heirs.

Edmund Beaufort was the 1st earl’s fourth son – John of Gaunt’s grandson for those keeping track. He was made Count of Mortain in 1427 and then Earl of Dorset in 1438 – five years later he was elevated to a marquess and the following year he succeeded his brother John as the Earl of Somerset. Not bad for such a junior member of the family. In 1427 it is believed by some and certainly according to rumour of the time that he had an affair with his cousin’s widow – Katherine of Valois. However, cousin Humphrey, the son of Henry IV who was a leading member of Henry VI’s regency council in England passed a law ensuring that unless a prospective husband of the dowager queen (i.e. Katherine) had her son’s permission to marry all his lands would be forfeit. Henry VI had a lot of growing up to do before he could grant permission for anything and Edmund had too much to lose to risk marrying Katherine – which is possibly why her eldest son with Owen Tudor was called Edmund. This is of course hypothesis and without any sound written evidence – but what’s not to like about a good conspiracy theory? In any event Edmund Beaufort was an early victim of the Wars of the Roses being killed on 22 May 1455 at the Battle of St Albans.

Edmund married Eleanor Beauchamp (a sister of the Earl of Warwick’s – the Kingmaker’s- wife Anne Beauchamp – Edmund being Lancastrian and the Earl of Warwick being Yorkist.) The couple had ten children. The Beaufort line despite four sons became distinctly female as a result of the Wars of the Roses. Henry was executed following the Battle of Hexham in 1464. Edmund was executed by the Yorkists after the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471. HIs brother John had been killed during the battle. Thomas died young.

Edmund Beaufort’s daughter Margaret (not to be confused with the Lady Margaret Beaufort- they were cousins) married Humphrey Stafford in 1455. Humphrey was badly wounded at the Battle of Albans and appears to have succumbed to the plague in the same year. The couple’s son Henry became the Duke of Buckingham. He was required to marry Katherine Woodville. He was a buddy of the Duke of Gloucester’s but rebelled against him in 1483 after he’d turned himself into Richard III. He was executed for his pains.

Another daughter Eleanor was married off to the 5th Earl of Ormonde but he was executed in 1461 so she married Sir Robert Spencer of Spencercombe in Devon. Her eldest daughter married yet another cousin and a good Lancastrian having been raised at the court of Henry VII – Henry Percy 5th Earl of Northumberland – it also possibly ensured that whilst of a good line that the Percy family did not become too powerful in Henry Tudor’s mind.

Still going? Anne married into the Paston family of letter writing fame and one of her daughters, for Yorkshire readers of the History Jar, married Sir John Saville of Thornhill. And I think that’s more than enough for one day.

The key things about this branch of the family – apart from the fact they all insist on marrying their cousins – for land, power and increasingly to bind loyalties tighter during time of trouble is the fact that the Beaufort line demonstrate the dangers of a family going to war – the result is an heiress. It is also notable that the more junior that the girls become, the less their marriage portion must be because they marry gentlemen rather than lords and so the family moves into obscurity for all but the local enthusiast. In addition to the unappealing dowry there’s also the problem of being on the losing side of a civil war – daughters of traitors are harder to marry off – unless there’s a swap in monarch of course.


And yes I know I’ve still got Joan and Margaret Beaufort the daughters of the first Earl of Somerset to write about but this post is already too long.

Weir, Alison Britain’s Royal Families

Joan Beaufort’s family

Joan Beaufort and her daughters

I’m still wading through the Plantagenet descendants of John of Gaunt. I think that Joan’s family is probably the most complex element of this particular branch. So here goes…

Joan’s eldest son Richard Neville was the father of the Kingmaker Earl of Warwick. As a son from the First Earl of Westmorland’s second family the Westmorland title did not pass to Richard but he did become Earl of Salisbury by right of his wife Alice Montacute. Richard cannily ensured that his own son, also called Richard, was equally well provided for in marriage. By the age of six Joan Beaufort’s grandson Richard was betrothed to Anne Beauchamp the daughter of the thirteenth Earl of Warwick and likely to inherit a goodly fortune from the Beauchamp, Depenser and Montacute connections. It should be noted that the earldom of Warwick fell by luck into Richard junior’s hands with the deaths of Anne Beauchamp’s brother and niece. Joan Beaufort’s grandson was the Earl of Warwick known as The Kingmaker. From there of course we find ourselves with Joan’s great grand daughters Isabel and Anne – Isabel who married George, Duke of Clarence who had the unfortunate interlude with a vat of Malmsey and Anne who was married first to Henry VI’s son Edward of Westminster and then to the Duke of Clarence’s brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester a.k.a. Richard III – and yes papal dispensations were required all round.

Katherine Neville born around 1400 was married four times – which doesn’t help this post so I shall content myself with the two marriages I can remember. In 1412 she married John Mowbray, the 2nd Duke of Norfolk – the first Mowbray duke of Norfolk, if you recall, was the Lord Appellant who challenged Henry of Bolingbroke to trial by combat just outside Coventy, got himself banished for his pains and died in Venice. His older son Thomas was only created earl and eventually got himself executed in York for rebelling against Henry IV in 1405. John was Thomas’s younger brother – one can only imagine how John felt to be marrying the niece of the man who had effectively ruined his family – though Ralph Neville was his guardian – Ralph was ensuring his family kept their hands on the Mowbray wealth and title when he arranged Katherine’s marriage. The couple had only one son – John born in 1417. He inherited the dukedom whilst still a minor. He would become one of the Yorkists leaders who played an important role in making Edward IV king.

Katherine’s fourth marriage was perhaps the most notorious of her weddings. By that time she was sixty-five. Her groom, the brother of Elizabeth Woodville – her niece by marriage- was John Woodville aged nineteen. John was executed after the Battle of Edgecote in 1469 by her nephew the Earl of Warwick – demonstrating that family events today have nothing on those in the fifteenth century – and there’s you worrying about whose going to sit where at Christmas – this lot just seem to have lopped off each other’s heads at the first opportunity.

Henry, Thomas and Cuthbert Neville died either in infancy or as young children as did John Neville who was born in 1411. Robert Neville became the Bishop of Durham and Salisbury. Whilst being a catholic priest ought to have precluded having children of his own there is a mention in his will of a Thomas, Ralph and Alice who it might reasonably be supposed were his own children.

Eleanor Neville born in 1402 found herself in the invidious position of being required to marry her family’s opponents for power in the North after her first husband Richard le Despenser died without them having children. Despenser is going to appear again during the next week and suffice it to say a papal dispensation was required for the marriage since he was yet another cousin. Husband two was the Earl of Northumberland – despite the two families opposition to one another the couple had ten children.

In addition to marrying to solve political problems this post has demonstrated that the first earl of Westmorland and his wife Joan were very good at marrying their sons to heiresses – which probably didn’t enhance Neville popularity during the period when everyone was looking for a likely heiress to give their own family a boost up the social ladder. William Neville was no exception. William married Joan de Fauconberg who inherited a large North Yorkshire estate. Not only was she a bit older than William but she was also described as being an “idiot from birth.” Despite this the couple had four children but the child of William’s that is best know in history, thanks to the Wars of the Roses, is Thomas Neville sometimes known as the Bastard of Fauconberg. He would one day become Viscount Fauconberg. He was executed in 1471.

Anne Neville married the First Duke of Buckingham Humphrey Stafford – making her the mother-in-law of Lady Margaret Beaufort, who married the couple’s second son Henry Stafford after the death of her first husband (or second if you count John de la Pole and she didn’t) Edmund Tudor. And if nothing else demonstrates the tangled knot of Plantagenets that led to the Wars of the Roses this particular relationship should! Especially when you bear in mind that Anne’s sister Cicely married Richard of Cambridge and mothered Edward IV and Richard III. The Battle of Bosworth was really a family affair.

Quite clearly so far as the Plantagenets were concerned blood wasn’t thicker than water unless it was being spilled in pursuit of a crown. And I think that’s more than enough about Joan Beaufort’s off spring.

Tomorrow the Beaufort earls and dukes of Somerset – a quick tour before getting back to the sons of Edward III. There’s only a week until Christmas and I still haven’t tackled Edmund of Langley or Thomas of Woodstock.

Joan Beaufort

Joan Beaufort was married twice. She was married first to Robert Ferrers, Baron Boteler of Wem. The marriage took place in France circa 1391. Ferrers was part of the Lancaster affinity and a member of Gaunt’s household. He died within three years of the wedding.

This union produced two daughters: Elizabeth and Margaret. Elizabeth married into the Greystoke family. This Cumbrian family were wealthy and by the early fifteenth century had moved their allegiance from the Percy family to the Neville family which perhaps accounts for the marriage. There was only one son from this marriage – he succeeded his father to the barony and continued the family loyalty to the Neville family – meaning that despite the fact that he was from the Lancaster affinity, had been part of the group escorting Margaret of Anjou to England on her marriage that he became a Yorkist when fighting broke out due to his agreement to support the Earl of Warwick – a Neville and member of the extended family. He changed sides back to Lancaster, was absent from Towton and generally managed to survive into the reign of Henry Tudor – dying in 1487.

Margaret Ferrers married her step brother Sir Ralph Neville – the son of Ralph Neville first Earl of Westmorland. This may have caused familial difficulty later on as although the Earl of Westmorland’s eldest son by his first wife gained the title on his death the family by Joan Beaufort, Margaret’s mother, got the money. The family feud resulted in the junior branch of the family being Yorkist (somewhat bizarrely given their descent from Joan Beaufort) and the senior line of the family being Lancastrian and allying themselves with their old enemies the Percy Earls of Northumberland presumably on the premise the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

All of which probably requires a little more explaining. The Earl of Westmorland’s first wife was Margaret Stafford.  Joan Beaufort, Katherine Swynford’s daughter was the second wife.

The title of Earl of Westmorland belonged to Margaret Stafford’s son after the death of his father even though the first earl only got the tile in 1397 after he married Joan who was King Richard II’s cousin. However John Neville  predeceased his father. The title was inherited by John’s son Ralph (and you’ll not be surprised to hear that Ralph’s mother was a Holland!) There was nothing that the First Earl could do about who gained the title as the earldom was inherited by entail to the eldest male.

However in 1436 grandson Ralph, the second Earl of Westmorland was bound over by the law not to attack his father’s half-siblings. The reason for this was that Ralph’s father John – the son of the first Earl of Westmorland who died before he could inherit – had agreed that he would only inherit Raby and Brancepeth – the transfer of land to Joan and her children had been orchestrated by William Gascoigne the Crown lawyer which was why Sheriff Hutton and Penrith, for example, were transferred out of the hands of the Earl of Westmorland and into a junior branch of the Neville family. Come to think of it even Raby ended up in the hands of the junior branch. Much of the land and wealth that the Neville family acquired during this period was because of Joan’s proximity to the royal family – Richard first and then loyalty was rewarded by Joan’s half brother Henry IV. It would make sense that those rewards were safeguarded to the semi-Plantagenet brood of Joan’s rather than the first family – even though they might not have seen it in the same way!

Ralph the 1st Earl of Westmorland produced twelve children via his first wife Margaret Stafford and a further fourteen with Joan. Of the fourteen there were five daughters and nine sons. Thankfully for the ever extending family tree the couple’s eldest daughter named Joan after her mother became a nun. And that is probably more than enough for today.

Wagner, John A. (2001). Encyclopaedia of the Wards of the Roses.  Oxford: ABC Clio

John of Gaunt – the Beaufort family.

KatSwynford

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.

John_Beaufort_1st_Earl_of_Somerset.png

John Beaufort Earl of Somerset

henry beaufortthomas beaufort.jpg

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.

 

John of Gaunt’s family – wife number two

Constanza of CastileJohn’s marriage to Blanche of Lancaster gave him wealth and land – including thirty castles across England.  He held Kenilworth, Pontefract, Lincoln, Leicester, Tutbury and Monmouth to name but a few.  Blanche died on 12 September 1368 at Tutbury.

Three years later on 21st September 1371 John married Constanza or Constance of Castile.  The following year at the beginning of February she made a state entry to London.  The marriage gave John a claim to the kingdom of Castile by right of his new wife.  Constance was the daughter of King Pedro – or Pedro the Cruel –   John had had himself proclaimed King of Castile on January 29th.  The state entry reinforced John’s new status and the reason behind it.

Pedro had been usurped by his half-brother Henry of Trastamara and having fled across the Pyrenees sought the help of Gaunt’s elder brother the Black Prince. There were many more twists in the plot but ultimately Henry murdered his brother and claimed the kingdom of Castile ignoring the rights of Constance who was safely in english held territory along with her younger sister Isabella.  It was the Black Prince who escorted Constance into London in February 1372.  The marriage was a dynastic one – shortly after the second marriage Gaunt began his affair with Katherine Swynford.

In the meantime Constance bore two children.  John was born in 1374 but died the following year.  Catherine or Catalina of Lancaster was born in early 1373 or possibly late 1372. Her marriage, like her half sister Philippa’s,  reflected John’s Iberian political aspirations but one of her descendants would be at the centre of a scandal that shook England’s religious foundations.

It was only in 1386 that John was able to raise the funds to mount an invasion of Castile in aid to claim his throne after the King of Portugal defeated the Castilians.  The money came from a loan granted by Richard II on the understanding that it would be repaid once John had his throne.  Richard was leased to see the back of his dominant uncle whilst the nobility – or extended family as you’ve probably now come to think of them- resented his power.  There was an underlying fear that he might seek the throne of England for himself.

catherine11

Catherine of Aragon, c. 1496, portrait by Juan de Flandes. Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images

The Iberian Campaign was not a rip roaring success.  John couldn’t get his Castilian allies to give battle and it wasn’t long before disease began to decimate his army. The Treaty of Bayonne saw John give up his claim to the Castilian throne. In return he received a sizeable payout and his daughter Catalina was betrothed to Henry of Castile. She married him in 1388 and had several children including John II of Castile in inherited the throne whilst still a child.  Her great grand daughter was Catherine of Aragon…back to the cousin issue again! This picture is in the post because its one of my absolute favourites!

Constanza died in March 1394 at Leicester.  Two years later John of Gaunt married Katherine Swynford.  John was fifty-six.  Katherine was forty-six.  She had no power, wealth or title from which John might benefit but she did already have four children by John.

Henry of Bolingbroke – adding to the Plantagenet family tree.

Henry IV

Henry IV

We’re still of John of Gaunt phase one – Henry was the youngest surviving child of John of Gaunt and Blanche of Lancaster, born  in 1367 at Bolingbroke Castle in Lincolnshire.  Like his father before him John wished to ensure that his son was married to an heiress.

Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford, Essex and Northampton died without male heirs but left two co-heiresses – Eleanor and Mary.  Eleanor married Henry of Bolingbroke’s uncle Thomas Duke of Gloucester. Thomas moved to Pleshey Castle in Essex and encouraged Mary to go into a nunnery.  Had she done so then he would have inherited all of Humphrey’s titles and wealth by right of his wife Eleanor.  Mary had been three years old when her father died and together with her sister she became a royal ward. The marriage between Thomas and Eleanor took place in 1374 when Eleanor was eleven although she didn’t leave her mother until she was fourteen.

Mary’s mother, Joan FtizAlan, had other ideas than her daughter becoming a nun so took her to Arundel Castle to visit her aunt having come to an arrangement with John of Gaunt – whether John wanted to spite his brother or saw an opportunity to provide his son with a wealthy wife can only be speculated upon.  In any event Henry was married to Mary sometime in 1380.  Thomas was apparently so cross at being thwarted that his relationship with John never recovered.

henry vThe newly married pair were supposed not to co-habit but a son Edward was born in 1382 who lived only four days. In September 1386  Mary gave birth to her a son named Henry.  It is possible that there has been a confusion about Edward and that Mary and Henry were not his parents at all – the gap between pregnancies suggests that Henry was the eldest son born after Mary was deemed old enough to live with her groom.  Thomas followed in 1387,  John in 1389, Humphrey in 1390, Blanche in 1392, and Philippa in 1394.  Records indicate that Henry sent apples and pears as well as shell fish to his pregnant wife. Mary died in 1394 in her mid twenties.

And that’s all swimmingly straight forward.  As you might expect  Mary de Bohun was descended from Henry III so she needed a papal dispensation to marry Henry of Bolingbroke as he was a second cousin.

Lancaster family tree part 3.jpg

HenryVIofEngland.jpg

Henry VI

The complications to this strand of the family tree are not from Plantagenet marriages as despite the fact that Henry IV had four sons who survived to adulthood he had only two legitimate grandsons. Blanche married the Duke of Bavaria and had a son called Rupert in 1409.  He died in 1426.  Henry of Monmouth (Henry V) married Katherine of Valois following his victory at Agincourt.  The couple had one son Henry of Windsor who became Henry VI when he was a baby following Henry V’s untimely death.

Katherine of Valois would eventually marry her keeper of the wardrobe – a certain Owen Tudor.  Though there was a suspicion that she had conducted an affair with Edmund Beaufort (grandson of John of Gaunt) who may have had designs on the dowager queen until the regency council required any prospective groom of Katherine to forfeit his lands unless he had permission from the king to marry. The affair if it happened was in 1427 – when Henry VI was six – so a long wait for him to be old enough to give permission. Edmund disappeared from the scene and Katherine got herself secretly married to Owen who didn’t have to worry overly much about forfeiting much in the way of possessions.  There is a suspicion is some circles that Katherine was pregnant with Beaufort’s child. There is no written evidence. The Tudors had no claim to the throne by their father or by Katherine of Valois irrelevant of paternity.  The Tudor claim when it arrived would be by marriage to Margaret Beaufort.

The other contentious widow is Jacquetta of Luxembourg who became the Dowager Duchess of Bedford when John of Bedford died in 1435.  Jacquetta chose to marry a household knight – which was a bit of a comedown for a duchess – bearing in mind a woman took on her husband’s rank. Her second husband was Richard Woodville.  With her new husband she had sixteen children – including Elizabeth Woodville.

As an interesting aside three of the wives on this particular tree were accused of being witches for political reasons.  Joan of Navarre was accused of being a witch because Henry V wished to control her dower lands in order to draw the revenue from them to pursue his campaigns agains the French. Eleanor Cobham was accused of witchcraft to topple her husband good duke Humphrey from power on the regency council and Richard III accused Jacquetta of  witchcraft resurrecting a story concocted by the Earl of Warwick – both of whom resented the rise of the Woodvilles.

 

 

Elizabeth of Lancaster’s children – feuds, plots and treason

elizabeth of lancaster

Elizabeth of Lancaster

john hollandThe last post was about the turbulent life of Elizabeth of Lancaster, second daughter of John of Gaunt with her second husband John Holland, sometime Duke of Exeter.  The couple had five children.

The relationships demonstrate the complicated times in which this group of  Plantagenets lived and bring us a step closer to the Wars of the Roses – in fact by the end of this post we will have arrived there.  We can also increasingly see the vertical lines of family descent being drawn together and knotted by marriage.  There are also the political considerations of cousins finding themselves on opposite sides of the political fence and then finding themselves placed like dynastic pawns into marriages designed to bring old enmities to an end or ring fence land and power.

Lancaster family tree part 2.jpg

Elizabeth’s daughter Constance (born 1387) was a child when she was betrothed to Thomas Mowbray.  Thomas was the son of the former Lord Appellant, the Duke of Norfolk, who had met Henry of Bolingbroke in 1387 near Coventry for trial by combat but found himself banished instead when Richard II changed his mind about the combat and took his revenge on the last two appellants.  The Duke died in Venice. Henry of Bolingbroke became Henry IV.

Our Thomas Mowbray inherited the Earldom of Norfolk but not the Dukedom.  He also found himself betrothed to Henry of Bolingbroke’s niece – you can’t help wondering how the resentment of his formative years and lack of full title played out in any relationship that the couple might have had.  The marriage wasn’t consummated.

Ultimately Thomas became involved in the Earl of Northumberland’s revolt against Henry IV in 1405 and executed for his pains in York along with Archbishop Scrope.  Thomas was only nineteen at the time and according to legend his head, displayed on Bootham Bar, remained remarkably fresh looking during the months it remained on display.

Constance meanwhile was in need of a new husband. Sir John Grey was the eldest son of Baron Grey of Ruthin.  Sir John Grey of Groby who was Elizabeth Woodville’s first husband was our Sir John Grey’s nephew.  Sir John and Constance required a papal dispensation as they were related to the fourth degree – so cousins again.

The pair had three children including a son Thomas Grey who fought at Towton in 1461 on the Lancastrian side. He was consequently attainted of treason by Edward IV and executed. No wonder it was called The Cousins War before gaining the title The Wars of the Roses.

Elizabeth’s younger daughter Alice was born in 1392.  Her husband was the Earl of Oxford.  The last Earl of Oxford that the History Jar encountered was Robert de Vere the 9th Earl of Oxford.  He was Richard II’s favourite and had successfully irritated the Lords Appellant.  He had to fling himself into the Thames in the aftermath of the Battle of Radcot Bridge before fleeing abroad. It didn’t do a lot for the de Vere family finances and he didn’t have an heir so the earldom went across the family tree to his brother Aubrey.

Alice’s de Vere was the 11th earl. He was related to the Percy and FitzAlan families on his mother’s side.  The marriage between Alice and Richard de Vere reflected the fact that everything had been forgiven and forgotten between the de Veres and the Plantagenets.

Links with the Plantagenets were further reinforced by the fact that de Vere was part of Thomas of Lancaster’s affinity. Thomas was Henry IV’s son – so Elizabeth’s nephew. In 1415 Thomas oversaw the trial of the Southampton conspirators who sought to depose Henry V and replace him with Edmund Mortimer (the 5th earl of March.)  The Earl of Oxford sat on the jury which condemned Anne Mortimer‘s husband, Richard of Cambridge (second son of Edmund of Langley, duke of York- another cousin), to death.

De Vere died in 1417 and Alice married Sir Nicholas Thorley without asking permission of the king or the Pope.  Nicholas was packed off to the Tower and all Alice’s lands were confiscated until Alice paid a fine.

We are left with Elizabeth’s son John who married three times but only fathered two children inside wedlock who survived to adulthood.

First John married Anne Stafford the widow of Edmund Mortimer – the one who died from plague in 1425 having spent his childhood in Henry IV’s custody because of his claim to the throne – the same Edmund Mortimer that Richard of Cambridge plotted to put on the throne

Anne Stafford was the grand daughter of Thomas of Woodstock (the one murdered in Calais on the orders of Richard II) – yet another cousin and yet another great grand daughter of Edward III. The match produced the two children – Henry Holland who became the third Duke of Exeter- best known for his role as a Lancastrian commander in the wars of the Roses who was married to Anne of York – sister of Edward IV (the Grand son of Richard of Cambridge.)  Henry Holland fought throughout the Wars of the Roses as a Lancastrian. However, he changed sides after the Battle of Barnet in 1471 having been seriously injured and left for dead. To cut a story with many twists and turns short, he accompanied Edward IV to France in 1475 – He “fell” overboard  and drowned on the journey home…possibly pushed on the orders of his brother-in-law, and cousin, the Yorkist king Edward.

A  game of happy families Plantagenet style anyone?

 

 

John of Gaunt’s house of Lancaster

john of gauntGaunt married Blanche of Lancaster on 19 May 1359 by 1361 he had been created Earl of Lancaster by right of his wife who was a co-heiress with her elder sister Matilda who died soon after. Gaunt became the Duke of Lancaster in November 1362.  The Lancaster inheritance made him extremely wealthy.

The first child be born to the couple was called Philippa and she was born in 1360 at Leicester. Her marriage was negotiated as part of Gaunt’s aspirations to hold the throne of Castile by right of his second wife Constanza.  She married John I of Portugal with whom she had eight children including Henry the Navigator. And there we shall leave her.

elizabeth of lancaster.jpg

Elizabeth of Lancaster, St Mary’s Church, Burford, Shropshire. Image from Wikipedia

The second child to survive childhood was Elizabeth who was born in 1363, the baby brother born the year before died in infancy. She married three times. Elizabeth added scandal to the Lancaster line and a bit of a tangle! Her father married her to John Hastings in 1380. The groom was eight at the time whilst Elizabeth was seventeen. The marriage was about political alliances.  Perhaps unsurprisingly Elizabeth was not overly impressed with her new groom – it would certainly be several years before she became a wife in anything but name.

john holland.jpg

Close up of John Holland from an illustration in John Creton’s account of the murder of Richard II which is held by the British Library

John Holland, Duke of Exeter- half brother of Richard II by their shared mother Joan of Kent was ten years older than Elizabeth and he wooed her persistently. The  unsurprising result was that she became pregnant. Gaunt had to arrange an annulment as Hastings was still only fourteen and a second marriage for Elizabeth which took place in June 1386.   Altogether the couple would have five children.

As for Hastings he married Philippa Mortimer who has been mentioned in a previous post – she was the daughter of Philippa of Clarence.  Or put another way Hastings was rejected by a granddaughter of Edward III so married a great-grand daughter. Philippa went on to marry Richard FitzAlan the 11th Earl of Arundel (there was a thirty year age gap if you recall) after Hastings died on the 30th December 1389 in a jousting accident.

Lancaster family tree part one.jpg

So far so good .  Richard FitzAlan, Earl of Arundel – Philippa Mortimer’s second husband was a Lord Appellant who effectively revolted against Richard II who was also Philippa Mortimer’s first cousin once removed. Arundel was, of course, beheaded for treason by Richard II in 1397. Holland occupied Arundel Castle, the home of FitzAlan on Richard’s request.  Just so that the other key strand of the political pattern is clear Elizabeth’s brother Henry of Bolingbroke was also a Lord Appellant.

Meanwhile Elizabeth having moved on to husband number two found herself on the opposite side of the fence to Philippa and her brother.  John Holland, despite his violent temper and the murder of the earl of Stafford which resulted in the temporary confiscation of his lands, was loyal to his half brother. In short he was an Anti-Appellant. In 1388 he was created Earl of Huntingdon, was given parcels of land by his half brother (often confiscated from the Lords Appellant) handheld assorted important official roles.

In 1397 John Holland was present at the arrest of Thomas of Woodstock (Duke of Gloucester) at Pleshey Castle. Thomas of Woodstock was Elizabeth’s uncle as well as being a Lord Appellant and uncle of Richard II who ultimately ordered Thomas’s murder.

In 1399 John of Gaunt died and Richard II felt able to take his revenge against Elizabeth’s brother, Henry of Bolingbroke by changing banishment for a period of ten years to banishment for life. As a consequence Henry returned and usurped his cousin becoming Henry IV.  He acted against those involved in the arrest anqdmurder of Thomas of Woodstock. John Holland was stripped of much of the land which Richard II had given him.  He also lost his dukedom and reverted to being only the Earl of Huntingdon.

Unsurprisingly John resented this and plotted to restore his half brother to the throne. The Epiphany Plot conspired to murder Henry IV and his sons in January 1400. How Elizabeth might have felt about the death of her brother and nephews is not recorded. The plot was uncovered and the conspirators fled.  John Holland was captured at Pleshey where Thomas of Woodstock had been arrested four years earlier. He was executed on 16 January 1400.  The execution was ordered by Joan FitzAlan the sister of the Earl of Arundel …who had been executed three years earlier.

And I think that’s a good place to stop for the time being.  Incidentally I have no idea how the yellow square appeared on the family tree!  I have posted about Elizabeth of Lancaster and John before – follow the link to open a new window. https://thehistoryjar.com/2015/03/16/elizabeth-of-lancaster-and-sir-john-holland/

 

 

 

 

Plantagenet- Lancaster and Beaufort

john of gauntToday we have arrived at the third surviving son of Edward III – John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster.  I’ve posted about him before so I don’t intend to write about him in any great detail here – but there is a very tangled Plantagenet skein to unravel in terms of his children.

John married three times – his first marriage was to Blanche of Lancaster.  She was the daughter of Henry of Grosmont, Duke of Lancaster.  His grandfather was Edmund Crouchback, the younger brother of Edward I.  This makes Blanche the great-great-grand-daughter of Henry III (yes- another one.)  Her mother Isabella de Beaumont came from an equally prestigious bloodline.  Her great grandfather was King of Jerusalem and somewhere along the line, inevitably, there was some Plantagenet blood flowing in Isabella’s veins.

Marriage_of_Blanche_of_Lancaster_and_John_of_Gaunt_1359During the latter part of the 1350s Edward III was looking to provide wealth and land for his older sons. Blanche married John of Gaunt at Reading Abbey in May 1359.  Blanche gave birth to seven children between 1360 and her death in 1368 but only three survived to adulthood: Philippa, Elizabeth and Henry of Bolingbroke. Philippa married into the royal house of Portugal in 1387 as part of the Treaty of Windsor so for the time being we can remove her from the intersecting Plantagenet lines – possibly with a huge sigh of relief.

When Henry of Bolingbroke usurped his cousin Richard II one of the pieces of “fake news” circulated by Lancaster sympathisers to justify the take over was that Edmund Crouchback was actually Edward I’s older brother but that because he was deformed, the younger brother took the crown.  This was a fabrication.  Edmund was called Crouchback because he had taken the cross and gone on Crusade. It is interesting none-the-less that Henry IV made his claim not from his grandfather Edward III but from his maternal link to Henry III.

Constanza of Castile.png

Constanza of Castile – the source is the British Library 

Gaunt’s second wife was Constance (Constanza) of Castile.  John had aspirations to wear his own crown rather than simply watch over this nephew Richard II and there were plenty of members of Richard’s council who were delighted when John developed a continental interest.  The marriage produced a child Catherine in 1372, a year after the marriage, followed by a son John who did not survive infancy.  Catherine married Henry III of Castile and became the country’s regent during the minority of her son – John II of Castile.

Just to add to the familial knot:- Gaunt’s brother, Edmund of Langley – Duke of York married Constanza’s sister Isabella of Castile who was the mother of his children rather than his second wife Joan Holland.

KatSwynford

 

The third wife is the famous one – Katherine Swynford.  John married her in 1396 but the couple had begun an affair soon after Blanche of Lancaster’s death and the death of Katherine’s husband Hugh.  Kathryn’s eldest son by John was born the year after Constance of Castile had Catherine.  There were four members of the Beaufort brood – John, Henry, Thomas and Joan.  When John married Katherine he arranged for the entire family to be legitimised by the Church and the State.

Where does that leave us – aside from the need for a fortifying cup of tea? It leaves us with the two children from John’s marriage to Blanche of Lancaster who remained in England and the four from his relationship with Katherine Swynford – but as Cardinal Henry Beaufort had no legitimate children we are left with a total of five children who married and extended the Plantagenet line – which isn’t so bad until you realise exactly how large Joan Beaufort’s family actually was!

Next time: John of Gaunt’s Lancaster children – Philippa, Elizabeth and Henry. Be ready for the complications of Elizabeth’s marriage!

Weir, Alison. Britain’s Royal Families