Blanche of Lancaster
Blanche of Lancaster was a member of the English royal House of Plantagenet and the daughter of the kingdom's wealthiest and most powerful peer, Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster. She was the first wife of John of Gaunt, the mother of King Henry IV, the grandmother of King Henry V of England. Blanche was born on 25 March 1342, according to her father's inquisitions post mortem, she is said to have been born as late as 1347, but this has been called into question as that would mean she had her first child at only about age 13. She was the younger daughter of Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster and his wife Isabel de Beaumont, she and her elder sister Maud, Countess of Leicester, were born at Bolingbroke Castle in Lindsey. Maud married Ralph de Stafford and William I, Duke of Bavaria. On 19 May 1359, at Reading Abbey, Berkshire, Blanche married her third cousin, John of Gaunt, third son of King Edward III; the whole royal family was present at the wedding, the King gave Blanche expensive gifts of jewellery.
The title Duke of Lancaster became extinct upon her father's death without male heirs in 1361. However, John of Gaunt became Earl of Lancaster, Earl of Derby, Earl of Lincoln and Earl of Leicester as he was married to Blanche; the Duchy of Lancaster was bestowed on Gaunt. The influence associated with the titles would lead him to become Lord High Steward of England. Jean Froissart described Blanche as "jone et jolie". Geoffrey Chaucer described "White" in such terms as "rody and lyvely hewed", her neck as "whyt, smothe and flat", her throat as "a round tour of yvoire": she was "bothe fair and bright", Nature's "cheef patron of beautee". Gaunt and Blanche's marriage is believed to have been happy, although there is little solid evidence for this; the assumption seems to be based on the fact that Gaunt chose to be buried with Blanche, despite his two subsequent marriages, on the themes of love and grief expressed in Chaucer's poem – a rather circular argument, as it is on the basis of these themes that the couple's relationship is identified as the inspiration for the poem.
Blanche and Gaunt had seven children. Blanche died at Staffordshire, on 12 September 1368 while her husband was overseas. Froissart reported that she died aged about 22, it is believed that she may have died after contracting the Black Death, rife in Europe at that time. Her funeral at St. Paul's Cathedral in London was preceded by a magnificent cortege attended by most of the upper nobility and clergy. John of Gaunt held annual commemorations of her death for the rest of his life and established a joint chantry foundation on his own death. In 1373, Jean Froissart wrote a long poem, Le Joli Buisson de Jonece, commemorating both Blanche and Philippa of Hainault, it may have been for one of the anniversary commemorations of Blanche's death that Geoffrey Chaucer a young squire and 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 poem was to make John of Gaunt see that his grief for his late wife had become excessive, to prompt him to try to overcome it.
The poem tells the story of the poet's dream. Wandering a wood, the poet discovers a knight clothed in black, inquires of the knight's sorrow; the knight representing Gaunt, is mourning a terrible tragedy, which may mirror Gaunt's own extended mourning for Blanche. In 1374, six years after her death, John of Gaunt commissioned a double tomb for himself and Blanche from the mason Henry Yevele; the magnificent monument in the choir of St Paul's was completed by Yevele in 1380, with the assistance of Thomas Wrek, having cost a total of £592. Gaunt himself died in 1399, was laid to rest beside Blanche; the two effigies were notable for having their right hands joined. An adjacent chantry chapel was added between 1399 and 1403. Blanche and John of Gaunt together had seven children, of whom three survived to adulthood: Philippa of Lancaster, wife of John I of Portugal. John of Lancaster. Elizabeth of Lancaster. Edward of Lancaster. John of Lancaster. Henry IV of England. Isabel of Lancaster.
Wars of the Roses
The Wars of the Roses were a series of English civil wars for control of the throne of England fought between supporters of two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the House of Lancaster, associated with a red rose, the House of York, whose symbol was a white rose. The wars eliminated the male lines of both families; the conflict lasted through many sporadic episodes between 1455 and 1487, but there was related fighting before and after this period between the parties. The power struggle ignited around social and financial troubles following the Hundred Years' War, unfolding the structural problems of feudalism, combined with the mental infirmity and weak rule of King Henry VI which revived interest in Richard of York's claim to the throne. Historians disagree on. With the Duke of York's death in 1460, the claim transferred to Edward. After a series of Yorkist victories from January–February 1461, Edward claimed the throne on March 4, 1461, the last serious Lancastrian resistance ended at decisive Battle of Towton.
Edward was thus unopposed as the first Yorkist king of England, as Edward IV. Resistance smoldered in the North until 1464, but the early part of his reign remained peaceful. A new phase of the wars broke out in 1469 after The Earl of Warwick, the most powerful noble in the country, withdrew his support for Edward and threw it behind the Lancastrian cause. Fortunes changed many times as the Yorkist and Lancastrian forces exchanged victories throughout 1469–1470; when Edward fled to Flanders in 1470, Henry VI was re-installed as king on 3 October 1470, but his resumption of rule was short lived, he was deposed again following the defeat of his forces at the Battle of Tewkesbury, on 21 May 1471, Edward entered London unopposed, resumed the throne, had Henry killed that same day. With all significant Lancastrian leaders now banished or killed, Edward ruled unopposed until his sudden death in 1483, his son reigned for 78 days as Edward V, but was deposed by his uncle, who became Richard III. The ascension of Richard III occurred under a cloud of controversy, shortly after assuming the throne, the wars sparked anew with Buckingham's rebellion, as many die-hard Yorkists abandoned Richard to join Lancastrians.
While the rebellions lacked much central coordination, in the chaos the exiled Henry Tudor, son of Henry VI's half-brother Edmund Earl of Richmond, the leader of the Lancastrian cause, returned to the country from exile in Brittany at the head of an army of combined Breton and English forces. Richard avoided direct conflict with Henry until the Battle of Bosworth Field on 22 August 1485. After Richard III was killed and his forces defeated at Bosworth Field, Henry assumed the throne as Henry VII and married Elizabeth of York, the eldest daughter and heir of Edward IV, thereby uniting the two claims; the House of Tudor ruled the Kingdom of England until 1603, with the death of Elizabeth I, granddaughter of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. Shortly after Henry took the throne, the Earl of Lincoln, a Yorkist sympathizer, put forward Lambert Simnel as an imposter Richard of York, younger brother of Edward V. Lincoln's forces were defeated, he was killed at the Battle of Stoke Field on 16 June 1487, bringing a close to the Wars of the Roses.
The name "Wars of the Roses" refers to the heraldic badges associated with two rival branches of the same royal house, the White Rose of York and the Red Rose of Lancaster. Wars of the Roses came into common use in the 19th century after the publication in 1829 of Anne of Geierstein by Sir Walter Scott. Scott based the name on a scene in William Shakespeare's play Henry VI, Part 1, set in the gardens of the Temple Church, where a number of noblemen and a lawyer pick red or white roses to show their loyalty to the Lancastrian or Yorkist faction respectively, it is suggested by literary critics that Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has strong allegorical references to the conflict with York represented by the White Queen and Lancaster represented by the Red Queen. The Yorkist faction used the symbol of the white rose from early in the conflict, but the Lancastrian red rose was introduced only after the victory of Henry Tudor at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, when it was combined with the Yorkist white rose to form the Tudor rose, which symbolised the union of the two houses.
Owing to nobles holding multiple titles, more than one badge was used: Edward IV, for example, used both his sun in splendour as Earl of March, but his father's falcon and fetterlock as Duke of York. Badges were not always distinct. Most, but not all, of the participants in the wars wore livery badges associated with their immediate lords or patrons under the prevailing system of bastard feudalism. Another example: Henry Tudor's forces at Bosworth fought under the banner of a red dragon while the Yorkist army used Richard III's personal device of a white boar. Although the names of the rival houses derive from the cities of York and Lancaster, the corresponding duchy and dukedom had little to do with these cities; the lands and offices attached to the Duchy of Lancaster were in Gloucestershire, North Wales, in Yorkshire, while the estates and castles of the Duke of York were spread throughout England and Wales, many in the We
Thomas Holland, 1st Earl of Kent
Thomas Holland, 2nd Baron Holand, jure uxoris 1st Earl of Kent, KG was an English nobleman and military commander during the Hundred Years' War. He was from a gentry family in Lancashire, he was a son of 1st Baron Holand and Maud la Zouche. One of his brothers was Otho Holand, made a Knight of the Garter. In his early military career, he fought in Flanders, he was engaged, in 1340, in the English expedition into Flanders and sent, two years with Sir John D'Artevelle to Bayonne, to defend the Gascon frontier against the French. In 1343, he was again on service in France. In 1346, he attended King Edward III into Normandy in the immediate retinue of the Earl of Warwick. At the Battle of Crécy, he was one of the principal commanders in the vanguard under the Prince of Wales and he, served at the Siege of Calais in 1346-7. In 1348 he was invested as 13th Knight of the new Order of the Garter. Around the same time as, or before, his first expedition, he secretly married the 12-year-old Joan of Kent, daughter of Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent and Margaret Wake, granddaughter of Edward I and Margaret of France.
However, during his absence on foreign service, under pressure from her family, contracted another marriage with William Montacute, 2nd Earl of Salisbury. This second marriage was annulled in 1349, when Joan's previous marriage with Holland was proved to the satisfaction of the papal commissioners. Joan was ordered by the Pope to return to her husband and live with him as his lawful wife, which she did, had 4 children by him. Between 1353 and 1356 he was summoned to Parliament as Baron de Holland, his brother-in-law John, Earl of Kent, died in 1352, Holland became Earl of Kent in right of his wife, although it was in 1360 that he was summoned to Parliament with that title. In 1354 Holland was the king's lieutenant in Brittany during the minority of the Duke of Brittany, in 1359 co-captain-general for all the English continental possessions. Holland died fighting in Normandy on 28 December 1360, he was succeeded as baron by the earldom still being held by his wife. Another son, John became Earl of Duke of Exeter.
Thomas and Joan of Kent had five children: Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent John Holland, 1st Duke of Exeter Joan Holland, who married John IV, Duke of Brittany Maud Holland, married firstly Hugh Courtenay grandson of Hugh de Courtenay, 10th Earl of Devon and secondly, Waleran III of Luxembourg, Count of Ligny Edmund Holland, who died young His profile in Britannia Biographies His entry in Maximilian Genealogy
John of Gaunt
John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster was an English prince, military leader, statesman. He was the third of the five sons of King Edward III of England. Due to his royal origin, advantageous marriages, some generous land grants, Gaunt was one of the richest men of his era, an influential figure during the reigns of both his father and his nephew, Richard II; as Duke of Lancaster, he is the founder of the royal House of Lancaster, whose members would ascend to the throne after his death. His birthplace, corrupted into English as Gaunt, was the origin for his name; when he became unpopular in life, scurrilous rumours and lampoons circulated that he was the son of a Ghent butcher because Edward III was not present at the birth. This story always drove him to fury. John's early career was spent in Spain fighting at the Hundred Years' War, he made an abortive attempt to enforce a claim to the Crown of Castile that came through his second wife, for a time styled himself as King of Castile. As Edward the Black Prince, Gaunt's elder brother and heir to the ageing Edward III, became incapacitated due to poor health, Gaunt assumed control of many government functions, rose to become one of the most powerful political figures in England.
He was faced with military difficulties abroad and political divisions at home, disagreements as to how to deal with these crises led to tensions between Gaunt, the English Parliament, the ruling class, making him an unpopular figure for a time. John exercised great influence over the English throne during the minority of King Richard II, the ensuing periods of political strife, he mediated between the king and a group of rebellious nobles, which included Gaunt's own son and heir, Henry Bolingbroke. Following Gaunt's death in 1399, his estates and titles were declared forfeit to the Crown, his son, now disinherited, was branded a traitor and exiled. Henry Bolingbroke returned from exile shortly after to reclaim his inheritance, deposed Richard, he reigned as King Henry IV of England, the first of the descendants of John of Gaunt to hold the English throne. The House of Lancaster would rule England from 1399 until the time of the Wars of the Roses, when the English crown was disputed with the House of York.
Gaunt fathered five children outside marriage. They were legitimised by royal and papal decrees, but which did not affect Henry IV's bar to their having a place in the line of succession. Despite that restriction, through these offspring, surnamed "Beaufort", Gaunt is ancestor to all Scottish monarchs beginning in 1437, of all English monarchs of the houses of Lancaster and Tudor as well as, York. John was the third surviving son of King Edward III of England, his first wife, Blanche of Lancaster, was his third cousin. They married in 1359 at Reading Abbey as a part of the efforts of Edward III to arrange matches for his sons with wealthy heiresses. Upon the death of his father-in-law, the 1st Duke of Lancaster, in 1361, John received half his lands, the title "Earl of Lancaster", distinction as the greatest landowner in the north of England as heir of the Palatinate of Lancaster, he became the 14th Baron of Halton and 11th Lord of Bowland. John inherited the rest of the Lancaster property when Blanche's sister Maud, Countess of Leicester, died without issue on 10 April 1362.
John received the title "Duke of Lancaster" from his father on 13 November 1362. By well established, he owned at least thirty castles and estates across England and France and maintained a household comparable in scale and organisation to that of a monarch, he owned land in every county in England, a patrimony that produced a net income of between £8,000 and £10,000 a year. After the death in 1376 of his older brother Edward of Woodstock, John of Gaunt contrived to protect the religious reformer John Wycliffe to counteract the growing secular power of the church. However, John's ascendancy to political power coincided with widespread resentment of his influence. At a time when English forces encountered setbacks in the Hundred Years' War against France, Edward III's rule was becoming unpopular due to high taxation and his affair with Alice Perrers, political opinion associated the Duke of Lancaster with the failing government of the 1370s. Furthermore, while King Edward and the Prince of Wales were popular heroes due to their successes on the battlefield, John of Gaunt had not won equivalent military renown that could have bolstered his reputation.
Although he fought in the Battle of Nájera, for example, his military projects proved unsuccessful. When Edward III died in 1377 and John's ten-year-old nephew succeeded as Richard II of England, John's influence strengthened. However, mistrust remained, some suspected him of wanting to seize the throne himself. John took pains to ensure; as de facto ruler during Richard's minority, he made unwise decisions on taxation that led to the Peasants' Revolt in 1381, when the rebels destroyed his home in London, the Savoy Palace. Unlike some of Richard's unpopular advisors, John was away from London at the time of the uprising and thus avoided the direct wrath of the rebels. In 1386 John left England to seek the throne of Castile, claimed in jure ux
Philippa of Hainault
Philippa of Hainault was Queen of England as the wife of King Edward III. Edward promised in 1326 to marry her within the following two years, she was married to Edward, first by proxy, when Edward dispatched the Bishop of Coventry "to marry her in his name" in Valenciennes in October 1327. The marriage was celebrated formally in York Minster on 24 January 1328, some months after Edward's accession to the throne of England. In August 1328, he fixed his wife's dower. Philippa acted as regent in 1346, when her husband was away from his kingdom, she accompanied him on his expeditions to Scotland and Flanders. Philippa won much popularity with the English people for her kindness and compassion, which were demonstrated in 1347 when she persuaded King Edward to spare the lives of the Burghers of Calais; this popularity helped maintain peace in England throughout Edward's long reign. The eldest of her thirteen children was Edward, the Black Prince, who became a renowned military leader. Philippa died at the age of fifty-six from an illness related to edema.
The Queen's College, Oxford was founded in her honour. Philippa was born in Valenciennes in the County of Hainaut in the Low Countries, a daughter of William I, Count of Hainaut, Joan of Valois, Countess of Hainaut, granddaughter of Philip III of France, she was the second of five daughters. Her eldest sister Margaret married the German king Louis IV in 1324. William's counties of Zealand and Holland as well as of the seigniory of Frieze were devolved to Margaret after agreement between Philippa and her sister. Edward III of England, however, in 1364–65, in the name of his wife Philippa, demanded the return of Hainaut and other inheritances, given over to the Dukes of Bavaria–Straubing, he was not successful. King Edward II had decided that an alliance with Flanders would benefit England and sent Bishop Stapledon of Exeter on the Continent as an ambassador. On his journey, he crossed into the county of Hainaut to inspect the daughters of Count William of Hainaut, to determine which daughter would be the most suitable as an eventual bride for Prince Edward.
The bishop's report to the king describes one of the count's daughters in detail. A annotation says it describes Philippa as a child, but historian Ian Mortimer argues that it is an account of her older sister Margaret; the description runs: The lady whom we saw has not uncomely hair, betwixt blue-black and brown. Her head is clean-shaped, her face narrows between the eyes, the lower part of her face is still more narrow and slender than her forehead. Her eyes are deep, her nose is smooth and save that it is somewhat broad at the tip and flattened, yet it is no snub-nose. Her nostrils are broad, her mouth wide, her lips somewhat full, the lower lip. Her teeth which have fallen and grown again are white enough; the lower teeth project a little beyond the upper. Her ears and chin are comely enough, her neck and all her body are well set and unmaimed. Moreover, she is brown of skin all over, much like her father, and the damsel will be of the age of nine years on St. John's day next to come, as her mother saith.
She is neither too short for such an age. Four years Philippa was betrothed to Prince Edward when, in the summer of 1326, Queen Isabella arrived at the Hainaut court seeking aid from Count William to depose King Edward. Prince Edward had accompanied his mother to Hainaut where she arranged the betrothal in exchange for assistance from the count; as the couple were second cousins, a Papal dispensation was required. Philippa and her retinue arrived in England in December 1327 escorted by John of Hainaut. On 23 December she reached London where a "rousing reception was accorded her". Philippa married Edward at York Minster, on 24 January 1328, eleven months after his accession to the English throne. Soon after their marriage the couple retired to live at Woodstock Palace in Oxfordshire. Unlike many of her predecessors, Philippa did not alienate the English people by retaining her foreign retinue upon her marriage or by bringing large numbers of foreigners to the English court; as Isabella did not wish to relinquish her own status, Philippa's coronation was postponed for two years.
She was crowned queen on 4 March 1330 at Westminster Abbey when she was six months pregnant. In October 1330, King Edward commenced his personal rule when he staged a coup and ordered the arrest of his mother and Mortimer. Shortly afterward, the latter was executed for treason, Queen Dowager Isabella was sent to Castle Rising in Norfolk, where she spent a number of years under house arrest but with her privileges and freedom of movement restored to her by her
National emblem of France
This article outlines current and historical national emblems of France, including heraldic coats of arms, first employed in the Middle Ages, as well as more recent, unofficial non- or quasi-heraldic emblems. The French Republic uses two emblems: In 1953, France received a request from the United Nations for a copy of a national coat of arms to be displayed alongside the coats of arms of other member states in its assembly chamber. An interministerial commission requested Robert Louis, heraldic artist, to produce a version of the Chaplain design; this did not, constitute an adoption of an official coat of arms by the Republic. It consists of: 1) A wide shield with, on the one end, a lion-head and on the other an eagle-head, bearing a monogram "RF" standing for République Française. 2) An olive branch symbolises peace. 3) An oak branch symbolises perennity or wisdom. 4) The fasces, a symbol associated with the exercise of justice. One has been a symbol of France since 1912, although it does not have any legal status as an official coat of arms.
It appears on the cover of French passports and was adopted by the French Foreign Ministry as a symbol for use by diplomatic and consular missions using a design by the sculptor Jules-Clément Chaplain. Fleur de Lys, a popular symbol during monarchical times, today used by overseas people of French heritage, like the Acadians, Québécois or Cajuns. Flag of France Great Seal of France National symbols of France Armorial of presidents of France Armorial of France Armorial of the Capetian dynasty Media related to National coats of arms of France at Wikimedia Commons
Wallingford Castle was a major medieval castle situated in Wallingford in the English county of Oxfordshire, adjacent to the River Thames. Established in the 11th century as a motte-and-bailey design within an Anglo-Saxon burgh, it grew to become what historian Nicholas Brooks has described as "one of the most powerful royal castles of the 12th and 13th centuries". Held for the Empress Matilda during the civil war years of the Anarchy, it survived multiple sieges and was never taken. Over the next two centuries it became a luxurious castle, used by royalty and their immediate family. After being abandoned as a royal residence by Henry VIII, the castle fell into decline. Refortified during the English Civil War, it was slighted, i.e. deliberately destroyed, after being captured by Parliamentary forces after a long siege. The site was subsequently left undeveloped, the limited remains of the castle walls and the considerable earthworks are now open to the public; as an important regional town, overlooking a key crossing point on the River Thames and with its own mint, the town of Wallingford had been defended by an Anglo-Saxon burgh, or town wall, prior to the Norman invasion of 1066.
Wigod of Wallingford, who controlled the town, supported William the Conqueror's invasion and entertained the king when he arrived in Wallingford. After the end of the initial invasion, the king set about establishing control over the Thames Valley through constructing three key castles, the royal castles of Windsor and Wallingford, the baronial castle transferred to royal hands, built at Oxford. Wallingford Castle was built by Robert D'Oyly between 1067 and 1071. Robert had married Wigod's daughter Ealdgyth, inherited many of his father-in-law's lands; the wooden castle was built in the north-east corner of the town, taking advantage of the old Anglo-Saxon ramparts, with the motte close to the river overlooking the ford, required substantial demolition work to make room for the new motte-and-bailey structure. Unusually, it appears that the castle was constructed on top of high-status Anglo-Saxon housing belonging to former housecarls; the motte today is 13 metres high. Robert endowed a sixteen-strong college of priests within the castle, which he named St Nicholas College.
Wallingford Castle passed from Robert to first his son-in-law Miles Crispin, Brien FitzCount, who married Robert's daughter after Miles died. Brien, an important supporter of Henry I, was the son of the Duke of Brittany, strengthened the castle in stone in the 1130s, he produced a powerful fortification, including a shell keep and a curtain wall around the bailey, combined with the extensive earthworks, has been described by historian Nicholas Brooks as "one of the most powerful royal castles of the 12th and 13th centuries". After the death of Henry, the political situation in England became less stable, with both Stephen of England and the Empress Matilda laying claim to the throne. Brien had been considered a supporter of Stephen, but in 1139 Matilda travelled to England and Brien announced his allegiance to her, joining forces with Miles of Gloucester and other supporters in the south-west. Wallingford Castle was now the most easterly stronghold of the Empress's faction – it was either the closest base to London, or the first in line to be attacked by Stephen's forces, depending on one's perspective.
Stephen attacked the castle in 1139 intending to besiege it, as the walls were considered impregnable to assault. Brien had brought in considerable supplies – contemporaries believed the castle could survive a siege for several years if need be – and Stephen changed his mind, putting up two counter-castles to contain Wallingford along the road to Bristol, before continuing west; the next year, Miles of Gloucester acting under orders from Robert of Gloucester, struck east, destroying one of the counter-castles outside Wallingford. The civil war between Stephen and Matilda descended into an attritional campaign, in which castles like Wallingford played a critical role in efforts by both sides to secure the Thames Valley. After the fall of Oxford to Stephen in 1141, Matilda fled to Wallingford, the importance of the castle continued to grow. Around this time Brien established a notorious prison within the castle, called Cloere Brien, or "Brien's Close", as part of his efforts to extract money and resources from the surrounding region.
The nobleman William Martel, Stephen's royal steward, was one of the most high-profile prisoners to be kept there. Contemporary chroniclers reported the cries of tortured prisoners in the castle disturbed the inhabitants of the town of Wallingford. There was not enough space in the castle for all of Brien's forces, various houses in the town had to be taken for the use of his knights. Between 1145 and 1146 Stephen made another attempt to seize Wallingford, but was again unable to take the castle despite building a powerful counter-castle to the east, opposite Wallingford at Crowmarsh Gifford, building castles to the west at Brightwell, South Moreton and Cholsey, he returned with larger forces in 1152, reestablishing the counter-castle at Crowmarsh Gifford and building another one overlooking Wallingford bridge, settled his forces down to starve the castle out. Brien, supported by Miles' son, Roger of Hereford, who had become trapped in the castle, attempted to break through the blockade, but without success.
By 1153, the castle garrison was running low on food, Roger made a deal with Stephen allowing him to leave the castle with his followers. Henry, the Empress' son and the future Henry II intervened, ma