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

  44 Goodman, John of Gaunt; Early Lincoln Wills; John of Gaunt’s Register; Calendar of Patent Rolls; Duchy of Lancaster Records, DL. 28; Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers

  45 Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem

  46 Cited by Silva- Vigier

  47 Calendar of Close Rolls; Calendar of Patent Rolls

  48 Foedera

  49 Calendar of Patent Rolls; Somerville

  50 Joan, “the fair maid of Kent,” was the daughter of the King’s uncle, Edmund of Woodstock, Earl of Kent (who had been unjustly executed for treason in 1330), and therefore a cousin of the Black Prince. Born in 1328, she was brought up in the Queen’s household. At the tender age of twelve she apparently fell in love with one- eyed Sir Thomas Holland (or Holand), and secretly precontracted herself to him. After exchanging vows before witnesses—which were as binding as a marriage in the eyes of the Church—the young couple consummated their union, but then Sir Thomas went away on a crusade in Prussia. It may be that he was thought to have died, for around 1341-42 arrangements were made for Joan to marry young William de Montagu, Earl of Salisbury, and they lived together as man and wife until 1347. But in 1349, after Holland returned, very much alive, and reclaimed Joan, the Pope ruled that his union with her was valid, that her marriage to Montagu was null and void, and that Joan was to return to Holland and live with him as his lawful wife. This she willingly did, despite Montagu’s protests, and the marriage was blessed with five children (one of whom was later to marry the daughter of John and Blanche) before Sir Thomas Holland died in 1360. Froissart; Foedera; Hicks; Goodman, John of Gaunt.

  51 McKisack; Dictionary of National Biography; Silva-Vigier

  52 Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem; Froissart

  53 Ormrod

  54 Knighton; Records of the Borough of Leicester; Ramsay

  55 Complete Peerage

  56 Rotuli Parliamentorum

  57 Silva-Vigier

  58 Walker. A wealthy nobleman might normally have at best sixty men in his retinue.

  59 Cited by Hicks

  60 Knighton

  61 McKisack; John of Gaunt’s Register; Armitage- Smith

  62 He is described as the eldest son of John and Blanche in both the Harleian and Sloane mss. In the sixteenth century Leland visited St. Mary’s Church in the Newarke at Leicester, and saw the tombs of “two men children under the arch” next to the head of the effigy of Henry, Earl of Lancaster, who was buried on the north side of the high altar. These were almost certainly two of the infant sons of John of Gaunt.

  63 Exchequer Records: E. 403

  64 John of Gaunt’s Register

  65 Ibid.

  66 Froissart

  67 Knighton

  68 Ibid.

  69 Knighton; Walsingham

  70 John of Gaunt’s Register

  71 Anonimalle Chronicle. The Chronicle is fiercely anti- Lancastrian and critical of John of Gaunt.

  72 Froissart; John of Gaunt’s Will, in Testamenta Eboracensia

  73 Knighton

  74 John of Gaunt’s Register

  75 Stow, London

  76 For the Savoy Palace, see John of Gaunt’s Register; Palmer, A. and P.; Webster; Dalzell; Stow: London; Rose; Beaumont- Jones; Powrie; Green, V.H.H.; Duchy of Lancaster Records, DL. 28, DL. 42; Silva- Vigier; Dunn; Goodman, John of Gaunt; Armitage-Smith; Fowler, The King’s Lieutenant; Delachenal. The remains of John of Gaunt’s palace were razed by Henry VII, who founded the Hospital of the Savoy on the site. In 1553 the hospital was suppressed by Edward VI during the Reformation, although the chapel served as a parish church until at least 1598. By the seventeenth century the hospital buildings were dilapidated and crumbling, and had become the haunt of thieves and vagrants. In the eighteenth century part of the complex was used as a military prison housing, among others, deserters who had been sentenced to die by firing squad in Hyde Park. By 1820 the old hospital was largely derelict, and in 1864 fire destroyed all that was left of it except the walls, which were cleared to make way for the approaches to the new Waterloo Bridge. The site remained empty until 1880, when Richard D’Oyly Carte purchased it in order to build the Savoy Theatre. All that is left of the Savoy today are parts of the stone walls of Henry VII’s chapel. Nothing survives from John of Gaunt’s time.

  77 Fortescue; Armitage- Smith; Goodman, John of Gaunt; Barnes

  78 Goodman, John of Gaunt

  79 The London Spy, Ned Ward (1699), cited by Hahn

  80 Goodman, John of Gaunt

  81 Cited by Armitage- Smith

  82 Binski; Shaw

  83 Dugdale, History of St. Paul’s; Sandford

  84 The duke’s privy seal, bearing his arms and helm only, is in the British Library; his great seal as King of Castile and León is in the collection of the Society of Antiquaries of London.

  85 Cotton ms. Nero Dvii f7r.; Goodman, John of Gaunt

  86 Goodman, John of Gaunt; Baker; Hutchinson

  87 John of Gaunt’s Register. A late fourteenth- century stained- glass window in the parish church of St. Mary at Long Sutton in Lincolnshire has a figure of St. George killing the dragon, for which John of Gaunt has traditionally been thought to be the model. John was lord of this manor, then one of the most prosperous communities in the area, and it is indeed possible that he donated the glass, as he probably did at Old Bolingbroke, also in Lincolnshire, where the east window of the chancel bore his arms. But in the absence of other evidence, apart from the Long Sutton glass being of a quality commensurate with John’s status and wealth, we cannot be certain if the oral tradition relating to the glass has any basis in fact. Perry; Hebgin- Barnes; Knightly.

  88 Lopes

  89 Walsingham; Armitage- Smith

  90 Froissart

  91 Rotuli Parliamentorum

  92 John of Gaunt’s Register

  93 Chaucer, The Book of the Duchess

  94 Froissart; Jones, Ducal Brittany

  95 Walsingham

  96 Cited by Hicks

  97 Westminster Chronicle

  98 Goodman, John of Gaunt; Panton; Extracts from the Account Rolls of the Abbey of Durham

  99 John of Gaunt’s Register

  100 Cotton ms. Nero

  101 Cox; Shaw; Fox and Russell; John of Gaunt’s Register; Calendar of Patent Rolls; Legge

  102 John of Gaunt’s Register; Duchy of Lancaster Records, DL. 28

  103 Chaucer, The Book of the Duchess

  104 Pearsall; The Kalendarium of Nicholas of Lynn

  105 Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers; Rotuli Parliamentorum

  106 John of Gaunt’s Register; Calendar of Patent Rolls

  107 Chaucer, The Book of the Duchess

  108 Goodman, Honourable Lady; John of Gaunt; Wathey; Froissart; The Kalendarium of Nicholas of Lynn; McFarlane

  109 Goodman, John of Gaunt; Cowling

  110 Political Poems and Songs


  1 The drawing is in Dugdale’s Book of Monuments in the British Library.

  2 Dudley

  3 Claims have also been made that four carved heads on the gateway of Butley Priory near Woodbridge, Suffolk, represent Katherine Swynford, John of Gaunt, Henry IV and Henry Beaufort. The gatehouse, however, dates from 1311-32—it is all that remains today of the original twelfth- century priory, while the royal arms on the gateway predate 1340, when Edward III had them quartered with the ancient lilies of France in pursuance of his claim to the French throne. The heads most probably survive from this earlier period, and there is, moreover, no written evidence in the records of Butley Priory to connect John of Gaunt or Katherine Swynford with it; Suffolk was one of only two English counties where John did not hold any manors or other property. Butley Priory is now a hotel. Wood; Armitage- Smith.

  4 ms. 61, fol. lv. Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

  5 Ackroyd

  6 Williams

  7 Loomis

  8 Goodman, Honourable Lady

  9 For Katherine’s appearance and c
haracter generally, see Lucraft, “Missing from History;” Silva- Vigier; Given- Wilson; Goodman, Honourable Lady; Bruce; Tilbury

  10 The correct medieval form of his name was Hugh de Swynford, but in order to comply with popular usage I have chosen to omit the de throughout the text.

  11 Silva-Vigier

  12 For the Swynford family, see chiefly Perry; Excerpta Historica; Nicolas; Cole.

  13 It has been claimed that Sir Thomas Swynford was possibly a younger son, or more likely a grandson, of Sir Thomas de Swynford of Knaith in Lincolnshire, who died in 1312, but that is less likely. Sir Thomas was certainly related to John de Swynford, who was Lord of Burgate in 1311, but seems not to have been Sir Robert’s father—and to Sir John de Swynford, who was MP for Huntingdonshire and died in 1332; their shields all bore three gold boars’ heads on a field of silver. Another reason for believing that Sir Thomas was Robert’s son is that, in the fifteenth century, Thomas’s great-granddaughter, another Katherine Swynford, was to marry into the Drury family, whose seat was at Rougham, Suffolk, and whose favored place of burial was Burgate parish church; this suggests a longstanding connection with Burgate. Farrer; Excerpta Historica; Cole; Campling; Perry.

  14 The name is given variously as Copledike, Cobledike, or Cubbledykes. This family had acquired Coleby in 1315.

  15 Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem; Goodman, Katherine Swynford; John of Gaunt’s Register; Chancery Records, C. 143

  16 Calendar of Patent Rolls; Cole. Although it is often stated that Nichola’s father was Sir Robert de Arderne of Drayton, Oxfordshire, she was probably the daughter and heiress of John Druel, who in 1311 was lord of the manor of Newton Blossomville, Bedfordshire; his wife was named Amice. The Druel family had been at Newton Blossomville since at least the thirteenth century, and two of its members were rectors of the parish church of St. Nicholas. Nichola must have been John Druel’s daughter or heiress, because she inherited Newton Blossomville. When she married Sir Thomas Swynford, he became lord of this manor in her right, and apparently settled there until 1357, when he and Nicola conveyed Newton Blossomville to Sir Ralph Basset of Drayton. Complete Peerage; Cole; Calendar of Close Rolls; Victoria County History: Buckinghamshire; Lipscombe.

  17 Calendar of Patent Rolls; Calendar of Close Rolls; Cole; Exchequer Records, E. 358

  18 Victoria County History: Bedfordshire

  19 Feet of Fines, 30 Edward III, no. 8, cited by Cole

  20 Cole; Calendar of Close Rolls

  21 Ibid.

  22 John of Gaunt’s Register

  23 This was something of a family tradition, for Hugh’s uncle, Sir Norman Swynford, had served Duke Henry in four military and diplomatic enterprises; see Fowler; Duchy of Lancaster Records, DL. 27.

  24 Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem

  25 Calendar of Patent Rolls

  26 Galway, “Philippa Pan, Philippa Chaucer”

  27 Bishop Buckingham’s Register

  28 There is no historical evidence for them being married at St. Clement Danes Church in the Strand, as several Internet sites—following Anya Seton—assert.

  29 Excerpta Historica; Perry; Birch

  30 Williams; Krauss; Gardner

  31 Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem—IPM for Sir Thomas Swynford, 1361; Perry

  32 Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem

  33 Thorold

  34 Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem. Nothing remains of the fourteenth- century church today; it was mostly rebuilt in the nineteenth century, and the only medieval survival is the fifteenth- century battlemented tower.

  35 For Kettlethorpe generally, see www.kettlethorpe.com; Perry; Cole; Mee; Leese; Goodman, Katherine Swynford; John of Gaunt; Tilbury; Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem; “Kettlethorpe,” Strutt and Parker Sale Brochure, 1981 (Lincoln Reference Library).

  36 Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem

  37 For Coleby generally, see Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem; Perry; Richardson; Coleby Village: Home of Koli; Tempest. Today, Coleby is a small rural hamlet with picturesque stone buildings.

  38 Calendar of Patent Rolls

  39 Crow and Olsen; Goodman, Katherine Swynford

  40 Wickenden; Knighton; Goodman, John of Gaunt; Mee

  41 Hill, Mediaeval Lincoln

  42 Silva-Vigier

  43 Camden

  44 Additional mss.

  45 Archaeological Journal, XXI, 1864

  46 For “John of Gaunt’s Palace” see chiefly Hill, Mediaeval Lincoln; Green, Forgotten Lincoln; The History of Lincoln; Mee. By the eighteenth century the “palace”—now known as “Broxholme’s great house”—had been divided into three tenements; John of Gaunt’s arms were in place until at least 1737, but in 1783 much of the house was pulled down. In 1849 what was left was auctioned off and soon afterward demolished. A beautiful Decorated triple- lighted oriel window boasting ogee canopies, finials, quatrefoils, and carved figures and foliage, was removed in its entirety from the south end of the condemned building and set in the castle gatehouse, where it may be seen today. A fragment of the medieval house survives, and a fifteenth- century window. Opposite the “palace” stood “another ancient building known as ‘John of Gaunt’s stables,’ ” but according to William Camden, this was “more likely to have been his palace than the other,” which suggests that the “stables” were in a better state of repair than the “palace” in the late sixteenth century. In 1784 the skeptical Grimm referred to “the old house pretended by some to have been the stables of John of Gaunt, by some a religious house, and by others the old town hall and a prison.” In fact, the building was St. Mary’s Guildhall, erected around 1150-60; today only parts of two walls remain from that time, the rest having been demolished in 1737. Additional mss. For Lincoln generally, see Hill, Mediaeval Lincoln; Duffy, Calendar of Patent Rolls; Goodman, Katherine Swynford; Honourable Lady; John of Gaunt; Silva- Vigier; Crow and Olsen; Beaumont- Jones; Hamilton Thompson; Powrie. Lincoln Castle now houses the Georgian gaol and the Assize Courts.

  47 Calendar of Patent Rolls

  48 For Katherine’s daughters, see Perry; Loftus and Chettle; Sturman; John of Gaunt’s Register.

  49 Stapleton; Cole

  50 Farmer; Attwater

  51 William de Belesby, Sheriff of Lincolnshire in 1382 and 1388, was married to one Elizabeth Swynford, the daughter and heiress of William de Swynford of the Huntingdonshire branch of the family, who also held lands in Lincolnshire; it is also possible that Gilbert de Beseby, the chamberlain at Kettlethorpe, was a member of this family, as spellings of surnames often vary. Andrew Luttrell, who died in 1390 and whose father had commissioned the famous Luttrell Psalter, probably married another Swynford girl, for the Swynford arms were once visible on his brass in Irnham Church. Lans-downe mss.; Perry.

  52 Speculation that there was another daughter of Katherine and Hugh is probably unfounded. A Katherine Swynford appears on a list of nuns at Stixwould Priory, a Cistercian house twelve miles east of Lincoln, in 1377. Since Margaret Swynford was old enough to enter a London convent in 1377, it is just possible she had a sister old enough to enter Stixwould that year, and as noted, it was not unheard of for girls to enter nunneries when they were still in childhood. It is also possible that one of Katherine’s daughters by Hugh was given her mother’s name. But there is nothing else to suggest that this Katherine Swynford was the daughter of Hugh and Katherine. There were many branches of the Swynford family, and little evidence to show how they were interrelated, therefore this nun could have belonged to any of them. Furthermore, Stixwould was a poor house compared to those in which Margaret Swynford and her cousins Elizabeth and Agnes Chaucer were placed in 1377 and 1381. Founded in the twelfth century, it now housed just twenty- eight nuns; back in the late thirteenth century it was one of only five nunneries able to export at least fifteen sacks of wool, but after the Black Death there was clearly a decline, for by the late fourteenth century Stix-would’s assets were modest, and in 1419 the nuns were excused payment of a
subsidy on account of their poverty. More to the point, by the mid- 1370s, Katherine Swynford was sufficiently wealthy to have found a far better foundation for one of her daughters. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that the nun at Stixwould was her child. McHardy, Clerical Poll Taxes; Nichols; Knowles and Hadcock; Graves; Victoria County History: Lincolnshire; Joy; Perry.

  53 Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers. The full text of the petition, and a translation into English, is given by Kelly.

  54 Perry

  55 Kelly

  56 John of Gaunt’s Register

  57 Perry; Goodman, Katherine Swynford; Crow and Olsen

  58 Calendar of Patent Rolls; John of Gaunt’s Register; Crow and Olsen

  59 Exchequer Records, E. 403

  60 He was buried with his brother and namesake in St. Mary’s Church in the Newarke (Lane).

  61 Bishop Buckingham’s Register

  62 John of Gaunt’s Register

  63 Ackroyd; Ayala; Honoré- Duvergé

  64 Calendar of Patent Rolls; Crow and Olsen

  65 Chancery Records, C. 81. It was Robert Glover, Somerset Herald, who, between 1571 and 1588, first identified Philippa Chaucer with Philippa de Roët. The Elizabethan antiquary, John Stow, also stated that Geoffrey Chaucer “had to wife the daughter of Paon Roët.” That this identification is correct is almost conclusively proved by the appearance of the Roët arms on the tomb of Philippa’s son, Thomas Chaucer. Crow and Olsen; Speght; Krauss: Three Chaucer Studies.

  66 Ibid.

  67 Calendar of Patent Rolls

  68 Dictionary of National Biography; Chute

  69 McKisack

  70 Gardner

  71 Howard

  72 Pearsall

  73 Gardner

  74 Gardner; Lounsbury

  75 Given- Wilson; Gardner; Lounsbury

  76 Emerson; Armitage- Smith; Hardy; Bryant; Johnson; Packe; Norwich. For Pedro’s deposition, see Chandos Herald; Froissart; Foedera; Russell; Gardner; Calendar of Patent Rolls. Regarding Chandos Herald, in ca. 1385 an anonymous herald of Sir John Chandos wrote a laudatory poem about the exploits of Edward, Prince of Wales in 1366-67. His fulsome praise for John of Gaunt, and the likely date of the poem, led John Palmer to suggest that it may be the work of a Lancastrian propagandist who supported John’s claim to the kingdom of Castile.

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