- Blanche of Lancaster
name = Blanche Of Lancaster
birth_date = birth date|1345|25|03|df=yes
death_date = death date and age|1369|9|12|1345|25|03|df=yes
title = Countess of Derby
Duchess of Lancaster
John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster
Philippa of Lancaster,
Elizabeth, Duchess of Exeter,
Henry IV, King of England
Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster Isabel de Beaumont
Blanche of Lancaster (
March 25, 1345– September 12, 1369 Bolingbroke Castle) Countess of Derby was an English noblewoman and heiress. She was the first wife of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancasterand the mother of King Henry IV of England. [The Complete Peerage]
She was the youngest daughter of
Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancasterby his wife Isabel de Beaumont. Both she and her elder sister Maud, Countess of Leicesterwere born at Bolingbroke Castlein Lindsey. Her paternal grandparents were Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancasterand Maud de Chaworth. Her maternal grandparents were Sir Henry Beaumont, 1st Earl of Buchanand Alice Comyn. [The Complete Peerage] Her sister Maud married firstly, Ralph de Stafford and secondly William I, Duke of Bavaria. [The Complete Peerage] However, Maud produced no surviving children from either marriage.
19 May 1359, at Reading Abbey, Reading, Berkshire, Blanche was married to her third cousin John of Gaunt, the third son of the reigning English king Edward III of Englandand his Queen consort Philippa of Hainault. The title Duke of Lancasterbecame extinct upon her father's death without male heirs in 1361. However, through his marriage to Blanche, John of Gaunt became Earl of Lancaster, Earl of Derby, Earl of Lincolnand Earl of Leicester(although Gaunt would not receive all of these titles until the death without issue of Blanche's older sister, Maud, in 1362). The Duchy of Lancaster(second creation) would later be bestowed on Gaunt. The influence associated with the titles would lead him to become Lord High Steward of England. The marriage was said to have been happy. Blanche has been described as very beautiful with pale-blonde hair, blue eyes and a serene, calm demeanor. Blanche bore John six children, three of whom survived infancy.
bubonic plaguestruck Englandfor the third time, and among the dead was Blanche of Lancaster. She was living in Bolingbroke Castle, Lincolnshireat the time. Her husband was at sea at the time of her death. Her funeral at St. Paul's Cathedralin Londonwas preceded with a magnificent cortege attended by most of the nobility and clergy. He held annual commemorations of her death for some years thereafter. For one of these commemorations, Geoffrey Chaucer, then a young squire and mostly unknown writer of court poetry, was commissioned to write what became The Book of the Duchess, in her honour. Though Chaucer’s intentions can never be defined with absolute certainty, many believe that at least one of the aims of "The Book of the Duchess" was an attempt to make John of Gaunt see that his grief for his late wife had become excessive and to subtly prod him to try and overcome his grief. He married his second wife, Constance of Castilein 1371. It was a political marriage that produced one daughter, Catherine of Lancaster.
In 1374, five years after her death, John of Gaunt ordered effigies made of himself and his wife. Twenty-five years later, Gaunt was laid to rest next to Blanche; the two are buried at an unknown location in St. Paul's Cathedral.
Blanche’s Children with John of Gaunt:
* Philippa (
31 March 1360- 19 July 1415). Queen consort of John I of Portugal.
* John (1362 - 1362). Died at birth.
* Elizabeth (
21 February 1364- 24 November 1426). Married firstly John Hastings, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, secondly to John Holland, 1st Duke of Exeter, thirdly to John Cornwall, 1st Baron Fanhope.
* Edward (1365 - 1365).
Henry IV of England( 3 April, 1367- 20 March, 1413). Married firstly Mary de Bohunand secondly Joanna of Navarre.
* Isabella : (1368). Died young.
Blanche's daughter Philippa married John of Portugal and made Blanche the ancester of many kings of Portugal and this line leads to
Isabella I of Castile, and through Isabella, Blanche is an ancester of many monarchs in many different countries. Her son Henry became King of England after he overthrew his cousin Richard II of England (Eldest son of John's brother Edward the Black prince). Henry ended the Plantaganet line and made Blanche's family, the house of Lancaster the new ruling house in England.
Blanche's grandchildren by her daughter Philippa:
* Blanche (1388-1389), named after her grandmother;
* Afonso (1390-1400), named after several
Kings of Portugal, including his great-grandfather Afonso IV;
* Edward (1391-1438), named after his great-grandfather
Edward III of England. He was a writer and an intellectual, who succeeded his father as King of Portugal in 1433;
*Peter (1392-1449), named after his grandfather
Peter I of Portugal. He was the First Duke of Coimbra, a remarkable ruler and well-travelled man, who served as Regent during the minority of his nephew Afonso V;
Henry the Navigator(1394-1460), first Duke of Viseu, who guided Portugal to the Great era of The Discoveries, named after his great-grandfather Henry of Grosmont;
*Isabella (1397-1472), who married
Philip III of Burgundyand was one of the most powerful and admired women in Europe;
*Blanche (1398), died in childhood;
*John (1400-1442), Duke of Aveiro, the grandfather of the two greatest Iberian monarchs in the 16th century,
Manuel I of Portugaland Isabella I of Castile;
*Ferdinand (1402-1443) "the Saint Prince," a warrior, who was captured during the
Disaster of Tangierand died a prisoner of the Moors.
Blanche's grandchildren by her son Henry:
*Edward b&d. April 1382; buried Monmouth Castle,
Henry V of England
Thomas, Duke of Clarence
John, Duke of Bedford
Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester
Blanche of England(1392-1409) married in 1402 Louis III, Elector Palatine
Philippa of England(1394-1430) married in 1406 Eric of Pomerania, king of Denmark, Norwayand Sweden.
Blanche's youngest surviving daughter Elizabeth married twice and had children with both her husbands. Blanche's grandchildren by Elizabeth:
Constance Holland(1387 - 1437) who married Thomas Mowbray, 4th Earl of Norfolkand Sir John Grey
* Richard Holland (c. 1389 - September 3, 1400)
Alice Holland(c. 1392 - c. 1406) who married Richard De Vere, 11th Earl of Oxford
John Holland, 2nd Duke of Exeter(1395 - 1447)
* Sir Edward Holland (1399 - 1413)
With John Cornwall she had two children:
* Constance Cornwall (c. 1401 - c. 1427) who married
John Fitzalan, 14th Earl of Arundel
* John Cornwall (b&d. 1404)
The book of the Duchess
Geoffrey Chaucerwrote a poem for John after Blanche's tragic death' since John was very upset and went into mourning for a long time. The poem tells the story of the poet’s dream. Wandering a wood, the poet discovers a knight clothed in black, and inquires of the knight’s sorrow. Throughout the poem, pieces of the knight’s story become more and more apparent, until the cause of the mourning is plainly stated and the knight leaves. The knight is John of Gauntand he is very upset over the loss of Blanche.
* The Complete Peerage
* [http://www.thepeerage.com/p10189.htm#i101885 Blanche of Lancaster @thePeerage.com]
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