Mistress of the Monarchy: The Life of Katherine Swynford, Duchess of Lancaster by Alison Weir

  22 Galway, “Walter Roët and Philippa Chaucer”

  23 Froissart

  24 Weever. A king of arms was a herald with expert knowledge of the laws of arms and aristocratic pedigrees, whose chief responsibility was to ensure that coats of arms were correctly awarded and borne. His was an increasingly important function in a world in which kings and lords were obsessively preoccupied with chivalry and heraldry. A king of arms also played a diverse ceremonial role, officiating and umpiring at tournaments or serving as an envoy in time of war.

  25 His appointment would appear to be borne out by a grant of ca. 1334 from the “King of Arms of the Duchy of Guienne, Sergeant of Arms” to two brothers surnamed Andrew, which bears a drawing of a seal bearing three plain silver wheels, the arms of Paon de Roët. Thomas Speght, who in 1598 published the works of Chaucer with biographical details, states that he had it on the authority of a sixteenth- century herald, Robert Glover, that Paon was Guienne King of Arms; doubtless Glover too had seen the tomb inscription. Apart from the latter, the grant of ca. 1334 is the only fourteenth-century source to identify Paon as Guienne King of Arms, although there is some disputed evidence that the post existed sporadically from the late thirteenth to the late fifteenth century; during the latter period, its holder was apparently little more than a glorified herald. Doubt has been cast, however, on the authenticity of documents dating the office from the reign of Edward I, and if they are indeed forgeries, then there is no historical evidence beyond the grant and inscription cited above for the existence of a Guienne King of Arms before the reign of Henry VI (1422-61). It is on record, however, that during the fourteenth century several new kings of arms were appointed, among them Windsor, Norroy, Surroy, and Clarencieux, so it is not beyond the bounds of probability that Guienne was at that time a new creation. “The Visitation of the County of Warwick;” Crow and Olsen; Goodman, Katherine Swynford; Ruud; McKi-sack; Brewer; Howard.

  26 Froissart

  27 Ibid.

  28 Ibid.

  29 McKisack

  30 Cited by Lettenhove, introduction to Froissart

  31 A prebend was a member of the chapter of a monastery or convent. This prebend had become vacant due to the death of one Beatrix de Wallaincourt.

  32 Galway “Philippa Pan, Philippa Chaucer”

  33 Newton

  34 The Vatican suppressed St. Katherine’s feast day in 1969.

  35 Weever incorrectly calls her Anne.

  36 Weever

  37 Lucraft, Katherine Swynford, believes that when Thomas Speght, the Elizabethan editor of the works of Geoffrey Chaucer (whom Philippa was to marry), referred to her as altera ftliarum, he meant “second daughter,” but Speght was perhaps using the alternative meaning of altera and referring to Philippa as the “other” sister, who was less famous than Katherine; had he described her as the second daughter of Paon, that would have made Philippa the elder of the two, as they had an older sister, Elizabeth, although Speght may not have known that, in which case he may indeed have meant that she was younger than Katherine.

  38 In a royal writ of deliverance of cloth and furs for Queen Philippa’s ladies, dated March 10, 1369, both Philippa Chaucer (who was almost certainly Paon’s married daughter) and Philippa Picard are listed; the former was then a damoiselle (lady-in-waiting) of the Queen, the latter a veilleresse (night watcher) of the Queens Chamber. Philippa Picard may have been the daughter of Henry Picard, a rich London vintner, who was Mayor of London in 1356 and a fellow guildsman of Chaucer’s father.

  39 Cartulaire des Comtes de Hainaut; Leese

  40 Cartulaire des Comtes de Hainaut

  41 Galway, “Philippa Pan, Philippa Chaucer;” Foedera; Complete Peerage. Paon is mentioned again in the Cartulaire on May 1 and August 4, these entries referring to his routine expenses.

  42 Perry

  43 It is intriguing to discover that a shield bearing what appears to be Paon’s coat of arms, impaling the arms of the See of London (which feature crossed swords), was painted on the ceiling of Old St. Paul’s. It was one of a number of painted shields placed there that have been dated no later than 1525, and which were recorded in the reign of Charles II by Thomas Dingley. Similar arms were also recorded in 1575 by the Elizabethan antiquary William Lambourne in a window in the Divinity School of Oxford, “in one place contiguous to the shield of the See of London,” implying a connection with the painted arms in St. Paul’s. In northern Europe it was—and still is—the practice for bishops to marshal their personal arms with those of their diocese; however, since the Roët arms were not borne by any bishop of London, it has been suggested that those on the ceiling belonged to a member of the Roët family who was perhaps appointed Dean of St. Paul’s. There has been speculation that this could have been a son of Walter de Roët, but unfortunately, no Roët features on the roll of deans of St. Paul’s, which is complete from 1322 to the Reformation, so the likelihood is that these arms were in fact those of a late medieval bishop of London and were misrepresented by Dingley. Perry; Dingley; Lambarde.

  44 Cited by McKisack

  45 Froissart

  46 Power; Labarge

  47 For a description of Blanche of Lancaster and a discussion of her birth date, see Chapter 2.

  48 See Chapter 2.

  49 Walsingham; Waleys Cartulary. Thomas Walsingham (d. 1422) was a Benedictine monk of St. Albans Abbey, one of a number of notable chroniclers of St. Albans. He wrote several works, including a continuation of Matthew Paris’s Chronica Majora, up to 1422, and a chronicle of England (Historia Anglicana) covering the period 911 to 1419. His chronicles are especially valuable for the period 1377 to 1422. However, Walsing-ham’s approach to the writing of history was partisan and credulous. He was sternly moralistic and bordered at times on the histrionic. For him, events like the Peasants Revolt of 1381 were the judgment of God on a wicked people. He considered the reformer John Wycliffe to be the “mouthpiece of the Devil,” and for many years he was John of Gaunt’s most vehement and vitriolic critic, largely on account of John’s perceived anticlericalism. His condemnation of John’s affair with Katherine Swynford is to be found in his brief Chronicon Angliae, which for very good reasons is known to historians as the “Scandalous Chronicle;” it covers the period to 1388. Walsingham’s lac-erative and damning disparagement of John of Gaunt in this chronicle ensured that it would be many centuries before historians came to take a more considered and objective view of him, despite the fact that, in his later works, written under the Lancastrian kings, Walsingham himself revised his opinions and wrote of John in a more sympathetic tone, effectively rehabilitating his memory.

  50 Murimuth

  51 Walsingham

  52 Froissart

  53 Jean le Bel

  54 Register of Edward, the Black Prince

  55 Froissart

  56 Walsingham

  57 Henry Knighton (d. ca. 1396) was an Augustinian canon and chronicler of the abbey of St. Mary- in- the- Meadows, Leicester. His chronicle covers the period from the tenth century to 1395. He was particularly well- informed, thanks to his links with John of Gaunt and his household, John being a generous patron of the abbey and personally known to Knighton. Consequently, Knighton displays a sympathetic Lancastrian bias in his writing—he consistently (and uniquely among the chroniclers) takes a favorable view of John and often refers to him as “the good Duke” or “the pious Duke.”

  58 Register of Edward, the Black Prince

  59 There has been speculation that Walter had a daughter named Isabel or Elizabeth (possibly after his sister, whose name is also given in both variants). In the parish church of Beddington in Surrey there is the memorial brass of one of the local lords of the manor, Sir Nicholas Carew, son of Edward III’s Keeper of the Privy Seal, who died in 1432. Beside him is depicted his first wife, Elizabeth or Isabel Delamere (or de la Mare), who is usually described (although not in contemporary sources) as the daughter and heiress of Stephen Delamere, lord of the manor of Delamers, Hertfordshire, b
y his wife Alice. Nicholas married Elizabeth around 1374, and she died before 1398, when he married his second wife, Mercy Hayme. Historians have long speculated that Elizabeth was not a Delamere at all, but a Roët, for the arms on the brass are those of Carew impaling not the arms of the Delamers (of which there are many versions), but what looks like the arms of Paon de Roët; furthermore, it has been suggested that, if she was a Roët, then she was perhaps the daughter of Walter de Roët. There is one major problem with this theory. Elizabeth had two sons by Nicholas Carew, one of whom eventually inherited his father’s lands. Had Elizabeth been Walter de Roët’s daughter and heiress, she would have inherited the lands he himself had inherited from his father, and they would have passed eventually to her son, and to his descendants. Therefore, there could have been no lands in Hainault in 1411 for Sir Thomas Swyn-ford, Katherine’s son, to claim, since Katherine could not have inherited any from her father or brother. Then there is the matter of the arms, which clearly show three Katherine wheels, and not the three plain wheels borne by Paon de Roët; these arms once appeared in stained glass in Beddington Church, and were described in 1611 in an armorial manuscript (now in the British Library) by Nicholas Charles, Lancaster Herald, as Carew impaling three silver Katherine wheels on a field of red; the Beddington arms also have downward- facing projections on the wheels, which Paon’s lack. They can be identified, therefore, with the arms of the Street family, who were to be found in Hertfordshire, Kent, and Somerset up to the late sixteenth century; the Street arms are virtually the same as those depicted in Beddington Church and described by Lancaster Herald; thus Elizabeth Carew could not have been a Delamere after all, and she was certainly not a descendant of Sir Paon de Roët or a daughter of Walter de Roët. The likelihood is that Walter de Roët died without heirs between 1356 and 1403, and that his patrimony was divided between his surviving sisters as co- heiresses. Haines; Perry; Victoria County History of Berkshire; Fairbairn.

  60 Crow and Olsen

  61 Galway, “Philippa Pan, Philippa Chaucer;” Braddy; Crow and Olsen; Ackroyd

  62 Gardner; Manly: Some New Light on Chaucer; Galway, “Philippa Pan, Philippa Chaucer;” Selby et al. It has also been suggested that Pan. is short for Pantolf, the Pan-tolfs being a Shropshire family of gentry, who were lords of Wem. The countess’s accounts record Philippa Pan being escorted from “Pullesdone” to Hatfield in 1357; there is no such name as “Pullesdone” listed in modern Ordnance Survey atlases of Britain, but spellings of place names tend to change over time, and it has been postulated that this place was either Pudleston near Hereford, Pilsdon in Dorset, or Puleston, which lies northeast of Newport, Shropshire, not that far from Wem(70). Pullesdon has sometimes been identified with Puleston, therefore, and some historians have claimed that Philippa Pan was a member of the Pantolf family. The problem with this theory is that the Pantolfs of Wem had died out in the thirteenth century, their lands inherited by the Botelers through marriage to the Pantolf heiress. A younger branch of the Pantolf family, the lords of Great Dawley, had also died out, by 1240, when their holdings were divided between four co- heiresses. Had there been any other male relatives, they would surely have inherited any Pantolf lands rather than those lands descending to heiresses. Thus it is very unlikely that Philippa Pan belonged to the Pantolf family. Manly, Some New Light on Chaucer; Crow and Olsen; Galway, “Pullesdon;” Victoria County History of Shropshire; Complete Peerage.

  63 Manly, Some New Light on Chaucer; Gardner; Howard; Stow, London; www.British History.ac. Soper Lane and the Church of St. Pancras no longer exist. The site was near Bucklersbury.

  64 Gardner; Ackroyd

  65 Calendar of Close Rolls; Foedera

  66 Galway, “Philippa Pan, Philippa Chaucer”

  67 Gardner


  1 Froissart

  2 Goodman, John of Gaunt

  3 Knighton

  4 Fowler, The King’s Lieutenant; Foedera

  5 Blanche’s date of birth has been much debated. Froissart, who is not always reliable, says she was born in 1347, and this date would appear to be supported by a statement in the Calendar of Close Rolls that she was fourteen on July 16, 1361, the date her father’s lands were apportioned. If Blanche’s birth year was 1347, then she must have been born before May 3, as it was on that date that she was betrothed to John de Segrave, heir to an ancient baronial family. But according to John of Gaunt’s Register, Blanche was born in 1344; this is unlikely, as her parents were then living in Gascony, and being born abroad would have rendered her ineligible to succeed to an inheritance in England, which she in fact did without her claim being contested. However, in two of the twenty- six Inquisitions Postmortem for her father drawn up in 1361, her birth date is given as the Feast of the Annunciation (March 25) 1342; in the rest, and in the eleven Inquisitions Postmortem for her sister, her age is usually given as “twenty- one and more.” This suggests that proof of her age was not furnished to all the escheators who conducted the Inquisitions, but that in two counties people did know when Blanche had been born, which is credible for March 25 was Lady Day, one of the important feasts of the Church and a popular day for collecting rents. So while it is not conclusive, the overwhelming impression this evidence conveys is that people viewed Blanche as an adult in 1361, not as a young girl of twelve. The inference must be that she was born on March 25, 1342. For Blanche’s date of birth, see Anderson; Fowler, The King’s Lieutenant; Calendar of Close Rolls; Complete Peerage; Verity; Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem. Blanche never did marry John de Segrave, for he died in 1349.

  6 Walsingham; Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers

  7 Chaucer, The Book of the Duchess. I have used mainly the vivid translation by Brian Stone in Love Visions (London, 1983).

  8 Kittredge; Chaucer, The Book of the Duchess; Howard; Chute

  9 Only the ruined cloisters and baptistry of the abbey remain. Most of the fabric was destroyed in 1540 on the orders of the Emperor Charles V.

  10 Goodman, John of Gaunt

  11 Calendar of Patent Rolls; Goodman, John of Gaunt

  12 Goodman, John of Gaunt; Crow and Olsen

  13 Froissart

  14 Ibid.

  15 Cited by McKisack and Rose

  16 She may have been the daughter of a Jean “Vilain” de St. Hilaire. Froissart; Calendar of Close Rolls; Crow and Olsen; Lettenhove, Froissart, editorial notes.

  17 Froissart; Armitage- Smith

  18 Rotuli Parliamentorum

  19 Ibid. On April 7, 1399, Richard II confirmed the grant of this annuity, which was presumably paid until Marie died.

  20 Additional mss. The countess’s accounts record New Year’s gifts to John’s cook and clerk of the kitchen.

  21 On December 20 one of her father’s servants was paid for bringing letters from Blanche to Countess Elizabeth, and these letters might have been about Blanche’s forthcoming visit or travel arrangements.

  22 Only meager ruins survive of this once great and prosperous abbey, the burial place of its founder, Henry I.

  23 Exchequer Records: E. 403

  24 Capgrave

  25 The King paid £58 (£19,560) for jewels alone for the occasion and gave the young couple jewelery and plate costing £389.11s.6d (£131,378). Exchequer Records: E. 101, E. 403; Calendar of Close Rolls.

  26 Anderson

  27 Yardley; Emery

  28 Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers

  29 Calendar of Patent Rolls

  30 Jambeck

  31 Howard. “An ABC” was a translation of a French poem, “Le Pèlerinage de La Vie Hu-maine,” by Guillaume Deguilevilles, which evoked the Virgin Mary as the object of courtly love in its most spiritual sense, and Chaucer almost certainly wrote it in the 1360s. Its title is not contemporary, but was added in the next century by the poet John Lydgate.

  32 Lane

  33 Special Collections, S.C. 1; Goodman, John of Gaunt

  34 Exchequer Records, E. 403

John of Gaunt’s Register; Goodman, John of Gaunt. John of Gaunt’s Registers, containing details of ducal warrants, grants, and payments, survive in full for the periods 1372-76 and 1379-83, and are stored in the National Archives at Kew. These registers are an invaluable source of information about Katherine Swynford, who is referred to in no fewer than thirty- two documents, while Kettlethorpe, where she lived after her marriage, is referred to in eleven.

  36 Bishop Buckingham’s Register

  37 Knighton

  38 Ellis; Goodman, John of Gaunt; Fox and Russell

  39 Most of Leicester Castle was in ruins by the seventeenth century. The arcaded great hall survives, although much altered, and now houses the crown court. Its red- brick frontage was added in ca. 1690. Parts of the castle walls survive, as does the church of St. Mary de Castro. The inner bailey is now Castle Yard. The castle mound itself has been leveled to accommodate a bowling green. Henry VIII did not suppress the collegiate foundation in the Newarke, because it contained the tombs of his Lancastrian ancestors, but it was dissolved in 1547 under his son, Edward VI, and St. Mary’s Church and the college buildings were demolished soon afterward. Trinity Hospital, which was restored in 1776 and 1902, is now an old people’s home, and stands in the Newarke, opposite the modern Leicester College of Art and Technology, in the basement of which are some medieval archways. The aisled hall and the chapel at the eastern end of the hospital are the only surviving parts of the original fourteenth- century building. The ruined turreted gateway leading to the Newarke dates from the fifteenth century. The Newarke itself is now a busy road.

  40 Leland, Itinerary; Leland visited the Newarke in the early sixteenth century.

  41 Goodman, John of Gaunt; Somerville; Fowler, The King’s Lieutenant; Victoria County History: Leicestershire; Webster

  42 Calendar of Patent Rolls

  43 John of Gaunt’s Register, Duchy of Lancaster Records: DL. 28; Goodman, John of Gaunt. Hardly anything survives at Hertford Castle from John of Gaunt’s time. The castle was in ruins by 1609, when it passed into private ownership. The buildings that still stand, including the remains of the fifteenth- century gatehouse, are mostly of a later date, and house the civic offices.

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