Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Did You Know #28

NOTE: I wanted to comment on the previous Did You Know entry, number 27. Upon further reflection I was somewhat struck by the fact that I was really excited about the link to James Arness and Peter Graves, it never really hit me to think it of interest to see a clear link with English royalty. Sometimes, even if by accident, we do have a way of getting our priorities right. Curiosity got the best of me about who these people were that I'd passed over without giving them a thought.

John of Gaunt1 (20th great grandfather) was born in AD 1340 to King Edward III of England and Queen Philippa in Ghent, Belgium (hence his moniker, "Gaunt"). In 1342 he became Earl of Richmond, a knight in 1355, and first married to his cousin Blanche (the daughter of Duke of Lancaster) in 1359 leading to his becoming.the Earl of Lancaster in 1361, and Duke of Lancaster in 1362. He, along with his brother Edward the Black Prince, waged war with France leading the English forces in 1370. While engaged in this war his wife, Blanche, died and John remarried the daughter of Pedro the Cruel, Constance. This marriage empowered John to seize the title of king of Castile and Leon. Now that he had the title, he just needed a kingdom. After 16 years of fruitless pursuit he returned to England where the demands of the national government awaited.

Turmoil enveloped John as he did battle with Parliament, defended the religious leader John Wycliffe, saw his nephew crowned King Richard II, and while guarding the border of Scotland his palace was burned in the peasant's revolt in June 1381. With his attention directed to Scotland, and then France, John was building a tradition of military failure. In the arts he sh
owed great taste, becoming the patron of Geoffrey Chaucer, whose work Boke of the Duchesse was a lament for John's first wife, Blanche.

John married a third time (following the death of Constance in 1394, taking
Catherine Swynford2 (20th great grandmother) as his bride. She was the daughter of Sir Payne de Roet. With a reputation of great beauty, Catherine had been raised in a convent after the death of her parents early in her life. When she was 16 she was called back to the royal court where she became the wife of Sir Hugh Swynford.

Catherine is the ancestor of at least 5 Ameican presidents, Queen Elizabeth II, and Princess Dianna. It was following his death that she married John of Gaunt. Prior to their marriage the couple had already become the parents. Their extra-marital children bore the name Beaufort, who following John and Catherine's marriage were given a legitimate status. John died on February 3, 1399. His remains rest in St. Paul's Cathedral, London, England. His wife, Catherine (or Katherine de Roet) outlived John by only four years.

King Edward III (also known as Edward Plantagenet), the father of John of Gaunt, is our 21st great grandfather. He was born in 1312 at Windsor, Berkshire, England to King Edward II and Isabella of France. King Edward III reigned as King of England for fifty years (1327-77). He was made Earl of Chester in 1320, and Duke of Aquitaine in 1325. Edward spent much of the late 1320's in France with his uncle Charles IV.

Edward was crowned King in 1327, although his mother, and her lover Roger Mortimer actually reigned in his name. He was married to
Philippa, the daughter of the Count of Hainaut, the next year. In 1330 he set into motion a plan that resulted in the arrest and execution of Mortimer, and taking his rightful place as monarch of England. Following the death of Scotland's Robert the Bruce, Edward took advantage of the new king's youthfulness and invaded Scotland in 1332. He fought with France in what has come to be known as the Hundred Years' War. Another blow to England during his reign was the plague, or Black Death.

While over his long reign Edward'
s "main ambition was military glory, he was not a bad ruler of England. He was liberal, kindly, good-tempered and easy of access."3 King Edward III died of a stroke on June 21, 1377 in Surrey, England. His body was interred in London's Westminster Abbey.


1 John of Gaunt [http://www.nndb.com/people/826/000094544/]

2 Isabella [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isabella_of_France]

3 King Edward [http://www.nndb.com/people/315/000093036/]

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