interesting information about famous Medieval Women, specifically a
short biography of
Katherine Swynford and her Medieval Life and Times
Famous as the mistress and later the wife of John of Gaunt who became the ancestor of the Tudors
Medieval Times encompass one of the most exciting periods in the History of England and Europe. The names of many famous Medieval women
scatter the Medieval History books and other historical documents -
they were mostly queens and princesses.
But what about the women who were not of noble birth? Who were these
Medieval women who became famous despite the dominance of men during
this era? The following biography, short history and interesting facts provide helpful information for history courses and history coursework about the key dates and events in the life of Katherine Swynford
who was famous as the mistress and later the wife of
John of Gaunt.
Katherine Swynford was a commoner who was the ancestor of the Tudors including King Henry VIII of England.
Short Biography about the life of Katherine Swynford
The following biography, short history and interesting facts provide helpful information for history courses and history coursework about the life and history of Katherine Swynford a famous Medieval character of historical importance who lived during the Middle Ages:
Country of Origin / Nationality:
Also Known as:
Katherine de Roet
Lifetime: 1350 -
Time Reference: Lived during the reigns of
the Plantagenet Kings of England King Edward III and King
She was born in the year 1350
connections : She was the daughter of Payne de Roet and the
sister of Philippa de Roet who married Geoffrey Chaucer
Hugh Swynford who was an English knight from the manor of
Kettlethorpe in Lincolnshire
The Children of
Sir Hugh Swynford and Katherine de Roet: Blanche (aka
Blanchette), Thomas and Margaret Swynford
Childhood, early life and education: She was educated at a convent and then joined her
sister Phillippa at the court of King Edward III
Swynford was he mistress and later the wife of John of Gaunt
Katherine Swynford married John of Gaunt on 13 January 1396
in Lincoln Cathedral
The Children of
John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford:
1st Earl of Somerset
1st Duke of Exeter
Countess of Westmorland.
Katherine Swynford died on May 10, 1403. Her tomb is in
Accomplishments and Achievements or why Katherine Swynford was famous:
Her liaison with the Plantagenet prince, the rich and
powerful John of Gaunt (1340 - 1399 ) produced four
illegitimate children who were given the name Beaufort. John
of Gaunt married Katherine Swynford in 1396 and their
children, by this time adults, were legitimised. Their son,
John, was the Great Great Grandfather of King Henry VIII of
Swynford was also the sister-in-law of Geoffrey Chaucer
The story and biography of Katherine Swynford which contains interesting information,
facts & the history about the life of this Medieval woman of
The Early Life of
Katherine Swynford (Katherine de Roet)
Katherine Swynford was born Katherine de Roet and was the daughter of a
Flemish knight. Katherine de Roet was educated at a convent in Romsey.
When she was fifteen Katherine de Roet left the convent and joined her
sister at the English royal court. Phillippa de Roet was a
lady-in-waiting to the wife of
III whose name was
Philippa of Hainault.
Phillippa de Roet married Geoffrey Chaucer. Katherine was very beautiful
and caught the eye of Hugh Swynford who was a knight in the service of
John of Gaunt. Hugh Swynford wanted to marry Katherine de Roet. It was
seen as a great match for Katherine as Hugh was a distinguished knight
and owned a manor in Kettlethorpe, Lincolnshire.
Katherine de Roet
marries Hugh Swynford
Katherine de Roet objected to the marriage.
Hugh Swynford was rough and uncouth - a seasoned soldier. But marriages
during this Medieval period were not based on love. Katherine had no
alternative but to marry Hugh Swynford and move from the royal court to
his manor at Kettlethorpe. Katherine and Hugh Swynford had three
children - Blanche, Thomas and
Margaret Swynford. The manor was very basic, devoid of luxury. Hugh
Swynford was often called to arms and fought in some of the many
battles, including the Battle of Poitiers, of the
Hundred Years War, all of which took
place in France.
and the start of her affair with John of Gaunt
In 1369 Katherine Swynford, as the wife of
a brave knight was called to Bolingbroke Castle to serve the wife of
John of Gaunt, Blanche. Blanche contracted the
Black Death and Katherine Swynford helped to nurse her until she
died and apparently was responsible for finding a priest to administer
the last rites. Katherine Swynford was invited to attend the funeral of
Blanche. It is believed that the affair between Katherine Swynford and
John of Gaunt started at this time. Katherine Swynford returned to the
manor at Kettlethope and had been honored by John of Gaunt.
The rewards were "for the care shown to the
late Duchess and for the Lancastrian children after their mother's
death". John gave Katherine Swynford
her own blazon - illustrating three Catherine wheels.
Her blazon was designed, bestowed and
registered by John. He also rewarded her, as a pension, "all issues
from, and profits from his towns of Waddington and Wellingere to be paid
and the Death of Hugh Swynford
Hugh Swynford was recalled to France in
1371. During this time he died. There were many mysteries surrounding
his death as he died by poisoning. He was believed to have been poisoned
by Nirac de Bayanne, a faithful servant of John of Gaunt. There is no
other connection between John and Katherine and the death of Hugh
Swynford but it did give rise to rumours as John and Katherine's
becomes Governess to the children of John of Gaunt
Following the death of Hugh Swynford
Katherine Swynford was recalled to court to be the governess of the
children of John of Gaunt. Their relationship was happy. They were in
love. Katherine Swynford bore John of Gaunt four children. Their
children at this time were referred to as the Beaufort bastards. The
names of their children were John. Henry, Thomas and Joan. This was a
turbulent and dangerous time in the Medieval times of the Middle Ages. The
terrible Black Death had ravaged the country since its deadly arrival in
1348. It changed the lives of the English people forever. About one
third of the English population died. Labour became valued changing the
status of the peasants and serfs. This ultimately led to the Peasants
Revolt in 1381. At this time King Richard II was just fourteen years
old. His uncle, John of Gaunt was the most powerful man in the country.
The peasants blamed John of Gaunt for the problems in their lives.
During the Peasants revolt the mob reached London and the Savoy Palace,
which belonged to John of Gaunt was burned to the ground.
The Affair between
Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt ends
Following the Peasants revolt the affair
between Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt ended. There is no specific
reason why this happened. The Black Death, the Peasants revolt and the
criticism of their affair must have all taken their toll. The
chroniclers at Saint Albans and Saint Marys Abbey, York described
Katherine Swynford as "a witch and a whore" and a "she-devil and
enchantress". Their parting was not on friendly terms. Katherine
Swynford returned to the manor at Kettlethorpe. As the
Lady of the Manor
Katherine would have been expected to undertake all of the duties that
would have been undertaken by her husband. Her life was busy.
and John of Gaunt reunite and marry
In June 1394 the second wife of John
of Gaunt, Constance of Castile, died. John and Katherine were reunited.
And John asked Katherine Swynford to marry him. Katherine Swynford
married John of Gaunt on 13 January 1396 in Lincoln Cathedral and took
the title of the Duchess of Lancaster. Their children were all
legitimised. They lived together for three years until John of Gaunt
died. During this time Katherine Swynford was effectively the first lady
in England - a queen in all but name. After John's death, Katherine
returned to Kettlethorpe and Lincoln where she died on May 10, 1403. Her
tomb is in Lincoln Cathedral. This
woman of humble birth became the ancestor of the Tudors and the greatest
Kings and Queens of England.
Famous Women of the Middle Ages
- Katherine Swynford
Interesting facts and information with a short biography about the Medieval Life, Times and history of Katherine Swynford.
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