Blanche of Lancaster


Blanche of Lancaster

Infobox Person
name = Blanche Of Lancaster


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birth_date = birth date|1345|25|03|df=yes
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death_date = death date and age|1369|9|12|1345|25|03|df=yes
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title = Countess of Derby
Duchess of Lancaster
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spouse = John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster
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children = Philippa of Lancaster,
Elizabeth, Duchess of Exeter,
Henry IV, King of England
parents = Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster
Isabel de Beaumont
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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 Lancaster and the mother of King Henry IV of England. [The Complete Peerage]

Lineage

She was the youngest daughter of Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster by his wife Isabel de Beaumont. Both she and her elder sister Maud, Countess of Leicester were born at Bolingbroke Castle in Lindsey. Her paternal grandparents were Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster and Maud de Chaworth. Her maternal grandparents were Sir Henry Beaumont, 1st Earl of Buchan and 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.

Marriage

On 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 England and his Queen consort Philippa of Hainault. The title Duke of Lancaster became 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 Lincoln and 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 plague

In 1369, bubonic plague struck England for the third time, and among the dead was Blanche of Lancaster. She was living in Bolingbroke Castle, Lincolnshire at the time. Her husband was at sea at the time of her death. Her funeral at St. Paul's Cathedral in London was 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 Castile in 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.

Family

Blanche’s Children with John of Gaunt:

* Philippa (31 March1360 - 19 July1415). Queen consort of John I of Portugal.
* John (1362 - 1362). Died at birth.
* Elizabeth (21 February1364 - 24 November1426). 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 Bohun and 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 Burgundy and 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 Portugal and Isabella I of Castile;
*Ferdinand (1402-1443) "the Saint Prince," a warrior, who was captured during the Disaster of Tangier and died a prisoner of the Moors.

Blanche's grandchildren by her son Henry:

*Edward b&d. April 1382; buried Monmouth Castle, Monmouth
*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, Norway and 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 Norfolk and 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 Chaucer wrote 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 Gaunt and he is very upset over the loss of Blanche.

Notes

References

* The Complete Peerage
* [http://www.thepeerage.com/p10189.htm#i101885 Blanche of Lancaster @thePeerage.com]


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Look at other dictionaries:

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