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THE LOVE LIFE OF JOHN O’GAUNT, FIRST DUKE OF LANCASTER


Dr Graham Kemp, Assistant Manager of Lancaster Castle, took us back in time to the Middle Ages  and titillated us with tales of Knights and Chivalry and especially the love life of John O’Gaunt, Edward III’s third son. We were much entertained and amused with his tales and the telling of them.

John of Gaunt's legitimate male heirs, the Lancasters, include English kings Henry IV, Henry V, and Henry VI. His other legitimate descendants include his daughters Queen Philippa of Portugal and Elizabeth, Duchess of Exeter (by his first wife Blanche of Lancaster), and Queen Catherine of Castile (by his second wife Constance of Castile). John fathered five children outside marriage, one early in life by a lady-in-waiting to his mother, and four by Katherine Swynford, Gaunt's long-term mistress and third wife. The children of Katherine Swynford, surnamed "Beaufort," were legitimised by royal and papal decrees after John and Katherine married in 1396. Descendants of this marriage include Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland, a grandmother of kings Edward IV and Richard III; John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset, a great-grandfather of King Henry VII; and Joan Beaufort, Queen of Scots, from whom are descended all subsequent sovereigns of Scotland beginning in 1437 and all sovereigns of England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom from 1603 to the present day. The three houses of English sovereigns that succeeded the rule of Richard II in 1399 — the Houses of Lancaster, York and Tudor — were all descended from John's children Henry IV, Joan Beaufort and John Beaufort, respectively. In addition, John's daughter Catherine of Lancaster was married to King Henry III of Castile, which made him the grandfather of King John II of Castile and the ancestor of all subsequent monarchs of the Crown of Castile and united Spain. Through his daughter Philippa, he was grandfather of King Edward of Portugal and an ancestor of all subsequent Portuguese monarchs as well. Through John II of Castile's granddaughter Joanna the Mad, John of Gaunt is also an ancestor of the Habsburg rulers who would reign in Spain and much of central Europe.
John of Gaunt dines with John I of Portugal, to discuss a joint Anglo-Portuguese invasion of Castile
(from Jean de Wavrin's Chronique d'Angleterre).
A portrait commissioned in c.1593 by Sir Edward Hoby for Queenborough Castle, probably modelled on Gaunt's tomb effigy.[1] The royal arms of Castile and León represent his claim to that kingdom.