John of Gaunt

John, the son of Edward III and Philippa of Hainault, was born at Ghent, Belgium in March 1340
He married firstly Blanche, daughter of Henry of Grosmont and Isabel de Beaumont, at Reading Abbey, May 13 1359. She died at of the Black Death September 12 1369 at Bolingbroke Castle and was buried in St Paul's Cathedral.
He married secondly Constance, daughter of Pedro I of Castile and Leon, and Maria Garcias, at Roquefort in 1371. She died at Leicester Castle in 1394 and was buried in Newark Abbey.
He married thirdly his mistress, Catherine Swynford, at Lincoln in 1396.


Left: John of Gaunt.
Right: St Baafsabdij, Ghent, birthplace of John of Gaunt.

John of Gaunt did not rule directly but held tremendous power; influencing his nephew, Richard II, and having close ties with the kings of Portugal and Castile.

He acquired the Duchy of Lancaster, a rich inheritance which included large estates in Lancaster, Yorkshire and Wales from his first wife, Blanche.

In 1386 he left for Spain in a vain attempt to claim Castile and Leon, a claim arising through his 2nd marriage to Constance of Castile.

In 1396 John of Gaunt married his mistress who had borne him four children. All were legitimised later but excluded from the line of succession.

He died at Leicester Castle, February 3 1399, and was buried in St Paul's Cathedral. His wife, Catherine, died in 1403 and is buried in Lincoln Cathedral. His son Henry of Bolingbroke succeeded as King of England in September 1399.

Sit of Leicester Castle.