John of Gaunt
1340 - 1399

Relationship to me: Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Grandfather Gen -20
 Born: 1340
 Died: 1399
 Age 59  
 Father:      King Edward III 1312 - 1377
 Mother: Philippa daughter of William V of Holland
 Brothers: (elder) Edward (Black Prince)  
  (younger) Edmund  
 Married: (1) Blanche of Lancaster 1341-1367
  (2) Constance of Castile m.1371
  (3) Katherine Swynford 1340-1403
 Children: (1) Philippa (m. King of Portugal) 1360 - 1435
  Elizabeth 1363 - 1426
  Henry (King Henry IV) 1367 - 1413
  (3) John Beaufort Marquis/Earl of Somerset 1373 - 1410
  Henry Beaufort Bishop of Lincoln 1374 - 1447
  Joan Beaufort c.1379 - 1440
  Thomas Beaufort Duke of Exeter 1381 - 1426

According to information passed on to me by Ian Caldwell, in Dec 2001: "John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, 1340-1399, married (1) Blanche of Lancaster (1341-1367); (2) Constance of Castile (m.1371); and (3) Catherine Swynford, (1340-1403), daughter of Payne Roelt, who had long been his mistress, and whose sister, Philippa, was married to Geoffrey Chaucer.

John of Gaunt was the forth son of Edward III, born in Ghent, hence his name. His son Henry, by his first wife, Blanche of Lancaster, became Henry IV in 1399 when he deposed his cousin Richard II. In 1382 John of Gaunt claimed the throne of Castile by right of his second wife, Constance, the elder of the two daughters, and heiress of King Pedro "The Cruel" of Castile, and spent several years fruitlessly trying to win the crown. Gaunt was generally supportive of the young King, Richard II, but was away at the Scottish border when his Palace of the Savoy in London was burnt down during the Peasants Revolt in June 1381. In 1386 John left England with a strong force to win the Spanish throne and his absence abroad allowed opponents of the regime free reign. He landed at Corunna and in the autumn conquered Galicia. John's daughter, Philippa, married the King of Portugal, and the Portuguese entered and alliance with John and together they invaded Castile, but without success, sickness ruining the English Army. He compromised with Juan of Castile by agreeing to marry his daughter, Catherine, by Constance, to Juan's heir, Henry, late Henry III of Castile, and peace was concluded at Bayonne in 1389. John's brother, Edmund, Duke of York, (1341-1402) was married to Isabella (c.1355-c.1392), daughter of Pedro I, King of Castile, and sister of Constance, wife of John of Gaunt. Their son, Richard Plantagenet, Earl of Cambridge (1376-1415) was the father of Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York.

On his return from Spain, Richard II welcomed his uncle and created him Duke of Aquitaine. In 1394 his wife, Constance, died and John married his mistress of many years, Catherine Swynford, and his children by her, who bore the name Beaufort, were now legitimised. He died on 3rd February 1399 and was buried at St.Paul's Cathedral near the high altar".

See for more information about John of Gaunt.

Katherine Swynford was an important historical figure, who was sister-in-law to Geoffrey Chaucer and was for years was John of Gaunt's mistress. It was most unusual for a man of his rank to marry his mistress, but it appears that he was genuinely in love with Katherine and that they enjoyed a happy relationship in their later years. A book titled "Katherine Swynford: The Story of John of Gaunt and His Scandalous Duchess" by Alison Weir describes the lives of the couple based on historical facts known about them.

Page updated 28 May 2009: List of children expanded. Reference added to Alison Wier's book about the lives of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford.