- Nationality: English
- Also Known as: Katherine de Roet
- Lifespan: 1350 - 1403
- Time Reference: Lived during the reigns of the
Plantagenet Kings of England King Edward III and King Richard II
- Date of Birth: She was born in the year 1350
- Family connections : She was the daughter of Payne de
Roet and the sister of Philippa de Roet who married Geoffrey Chaucer
- Married: Sir 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
- Early Life and Education: She was educated at a convent
and then joined her sister Phillippa at the court of King Edward III
- Mistress: Katherine Swynford was he mistress and later
the wife of John of Gaunt
- Married: Katherine Swynford married John of Gaunt on 13
January 1396 in Lincoln Cathedral
- The Children of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford:
- John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset
- Henry Cardinal Beaufort
- Thomas Beaufort, 1st Duke of Exeter
- Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland.
- Date of Death: Katherine Swynford died on May 10, 1403.
Her tomb is in Lincoln Cathedral
- Accomplishments 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 England.
- Katherine Swynford was also the sister-in-law of
story and biography of Katherine Swynford which contains
interesting information, facts & the history about the life of
this Medieval woman of historical importance.
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
King Edward 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.
Katherine Swynford and the start of her affair with John of
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 yearly".
Katherine Swynford 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 relationship developed.
Katherine Swynford becomes Governess to the children of John of
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 era 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.
Lady of the ManorKatherine would have
been expected to undertake all of the duties that would have
been undertaken by her husband. Her life was busy.
Katherine Swynford 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.