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Another “Lancastrian” widow

Last week, we saw how Joan of Navarre, the widow of Henry IV, was imprisoned for witchcraft and only released after Henry V, her stepson, died. We were also reminded how legislation was passed just a few years later to prevent royal widows from marrying during their sons’ minorities – this was aimed at Catherine de Valois, widow of Henry V, who died before her eldest son attained his majority in mid-1437.

Joan “Beaufort” (c.1404-45) was the daughter of John, Earl of Somerset, whose mother was definitely Catherine de Roet and whose father was either Sir Hugh Swynford or John of Gaunt. Joan married James I, the prisoner or hostage of the three Lancastrian Kings for eighteen years, who was eventually killed at the Whitefriars in Perth in 1437. Two years later, she married another James Stewart, this one known as the “Black Knight of Lorn” but was soon arrested by the authority of her son’s regents and died under siege at Dunbar Castle.

So this Joan “Beaufort”, even though she wasn’t a lineal  Lancastrian (because she was unrelated to Blanche of Lancaster, whoever her grandfather was) and wasn’t living in England, fell victim to the same suspicions as the Navarrese and French Queens Dowager of England.

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33 thoughts on “Another “Lancastrian” widow

  1. Jasmine on said:

    Oh, please, not more quotation marks…

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    • There isn’t a real alternative, is there?
      Historians have been calling the Earl of Somerset a Beaufort for centuries but simple analysis of the CP and DNB (very authoritative sources) questions this. If he wasn’t a Beaufort then his daughter wasn’t either. Quotation marks simply reflect that his traditional identity is in serious question.

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    • mairemartello on said:

      Anti-Ricardians have gotten into the quotation marks bit as well, haven’t they? Let’s see: ‘Ricardians’ versus Ricardians? I thought I might blog about that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. halfwit36 on said:

    It’s not a matter of being pro- or anti-anything. We don’t put ‘Marilyn Monroe’ or Gerald ‘Ford’ in quotes because those were not the names they were entitled to at birth.

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  3. No writer ever suggests that Monroe or Ford were their original names, besides which adoption legally almost changes the original name. Some writers still call the children, or putative child, of Gaunt by wives other than Blanche, Duchess of Lancaster in suo jure, “Lancastrians”.

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    • halfwit36 on said:

      As he was Duke of Lancaster by right of his wife, why wouldn’t they be Lancastrians? And they were Beauforts because that was the name that their father, no doubt, selected for them.
      As a married woman, ‘Monroe’ wasn’t even her legal name, but no one refers to her by any or her married names. We use the one that was best known. That was my point.

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      • No.
        First, Blanche was the real Duke of Lancaster and only her descendants could be lineal Lancastrians.
        Second, Beaufort was the name that John of Gaunt gave but the first of the quartet (John of Somerset) was probably Sir Hugh Swynford’s son – Catherine de Roet was married to Swynford at the time of Somerset’s conception, according to the ODNB and CP. So John of Somerset is a “Beaufort”, his brothers were childless and his sister’s surname changed at marriage.
        Adoption cannot be used to transmit titles and claims – this isn’t C1 Rome.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. halfwit36 on said:

    So we put quotes around “Tudor” even though Catherine de Valois was married to Owen Tudor, because we know that Edmund Beaufort was the father of her sons. We put quotes around “Beaufort” because Catherine de Roet was married to Hugh Swynford at the time, so we know that her children were her husband’s. We put quotes around ‘Lancasttian” because the descendents of the Duke of Lancaster weren’t really Lancastrians.
    So why don’t we put quotes around “Yorkist”? After all, there was talk that Edward IV, at least, was not a “Yorkist”?

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    • Evidence, evidence, evidence:

      No, Catherine de Valois couldn’t have married Owen Tudor because there was a law against her marrying *anyone* at all until her eldest son was of age – which was after she died. In this context, the contemporaneous evidence all points to Edmund “Beaufort” as the target of this law.
      The CP and DNB, highly authoritative sources of evidence, suggest that Sir Hugh Swynford was alive when John of Somerset was conceived.
      The Duke of Lancaster was Blanche – John of Gaunt was just a consort – so only her descendants or those of her relatives could be linear Lancastrians. This is a simple matter of fact.
      There is no real evidence about Edward IV.

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      • halfwit36 on said:

        Catherine wasn’t allowed to marry Owen Tudor, so that ‘proves’ he wasn’t the father of her children – the oldest one at least. She equally wasn’t allowed to marry Edmund “Beaufort,” so that “proves” he was the father of her “Tudor” son.
        Hugh Swynford was still alive when “Somerset” was conceived, which ‘proves’ Somerset was his son, not just by legal presumption,l but in ‘fact.’
        Many historians (including anti-Ricardian ones) say that Catherine of Aragon (descended from John of Gaunt’s 2nd marriage) had a better ‘Lancastrian” claim than Henry VII – or his son – had.
        “There is no real evidence about Edward IV.” And no real evidence about Owen Tudor/Edmund Somerset either, just assumptions.
        I’m curious – why the quotes around “anyone:?

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      • To emphasise the word – perhaps you would prefer CAPITALS?
        I don’t think we can be sure that Catherine and Owain had a relationship – the rumours of that nude bathing scene sound wrong, like posthumous propaganda, although they may just have united after Somerset lost interest. On the other hand, the law stipulated that a man marrying a widowed queen would lose all of his property so a wealthy Duke might use a relatively poor servant as cover. Obviously Henry VII wouldn’t want people thinking that his parents were undispensed first cousins and he would prefer to be thought of as Gaunt’s descendant than Sir Hugh Swynford’s. From Owain’s execution, Jasper had charge of the “family”‘s propaganda interest.
        Royal Marriage Secrets has quite a selection of evidence (eg Henry VIII’s conduct at the Dissolution) that all points the same way and there is more it doesn’t mention (Somerset marrying only after Catherine’s death).

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      • Also James I had been a prisoner/ hostage of the Lancastrian kings for eighteen years so his personal rule in Scotland was quasi-Lancastrian in style – authoritarianism, de heretico comburendo etc.

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  5. halfwit36 on said:

    If you can’t do bold or underlining, CAPs are all right, if not overused.
    So maybe Catherine and Owen never had a relationship at all? Maybe her four children were fathered by four different men? I can see Ricardians objecting to such a speculation (which is what it is) about Cecily of York,
    I didn’t bring up the nude bathing, you did, super blue.
    And while we are at it, why don’t we refer to the ‘Princes’ in the Tower? If they were illegitimate, they weren’t ‘Princes,’ and if they were legitimate, they were ‘the King and the Prince.’
    Throwing around snark-quotes just makes Ricardians look like ‘loons.’ Maybe you don’t care about that, but some of us do.

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    • Very logical in parts – you will see that “Princes” is a frequently used tag on here.
      We can’t be sure that Catherine de Valois had four children as she and Owain have two of the most erratic reproductive records on online sources. Some say they had six children and even that one son was older than Edmund, but became a monk. This is illogical because he would have been more strategically important to the Lancastrian cause than Edmund and Jasper.
      We do know that she didn’t marry before she met Henry V and didn’t legally marry after 1426-7 when the sensible legislation against the potential stepfathers of underage Kings was passed.
      We do know that Henry V fathered her first child, whose majority was attained after Catherine’s death. Apart from Henry VI, we know that she bore Edmund and Jasper.
      We don’t know whether Owain fathered any children by other women.

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      • halfwit36 on said:

        Catherine and Owen had (presumably) erratic reproductive records? They had 4 or 5 or 6 children in a brief period of time, which seems pretty normal. Of course, online sources can differ, but they had children IRL, not online. I have seen online birth dates for Maud Herbert, for example, all the way from 1441 to 1458.
        Nobody, certainly not me, argues that Henry V was not the father of Catherine’s first child. But thank you for informing me of facts which I already knew, and which were not in question at all.
        Owain had an illegitimate son (per Wikipedia) named David Owen, knighted and favored by Henry VII. He was two years younger than Henry,so was not honored as much as his other uncle, Jasper. Or should I say “uncle?”
        I can understand why you put “Tudor” , “Lancastrian” “Beaufort” et. al. in quotes, but why ‘family?’
        And the older son (by O.T.?) who became a monk? Any source for this?

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      • Different online sources attribute different numbers of children to either or both of them and I do not regard Wikipedia as more accurate than others in this respect. The same spin that the Lancastrian and “Tudor” sources used applies today and the proto-Darcy legend has been continually embellished.
        I think we can only rely on Catherine having two or three children after Henry V’s death and all would have been illegitimate under the law.
        Jasper was Henry VII’s uncle either of the whole or the half blood because he and Edmund did share a mother. We can rely on that

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  6. halfwit36 on said:

    “Different online sources attribute different numbers of children…’ so you can take your pick of which to believe? Which online source or sources is more reliable than Wikipedia? by whose criteria?
    I think we are in danger of falling into a trap where we can be considered sexist if we continue to claim that Lancastrian women slept around like alley cats, but Yorkist women never would. I don’t think you intend it that way, but it could be taken that way.
    Who is Darcy, or proto-Darcy? I must have missed that. The origin of the nude swimming story? which nobody is arguing is true.

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    • Wikipedia is as reliable as the contributors and editors allow it to be on a particular subject, which is not necessarily any better on a consistent basis than other cyber-sources I use. A certain recent book actually demonstrates this point.

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  7. David on said:

    There is actually a lot of evidence for the traditional version of the Tudor descent from Owain – notably Henry VI’s act creating Edmund and Jasper earls, which also explains the heraldic “evidence”. There is also the sainted Richard III’s own declaration against Henry prior to Bosworth – Henry Tydder, son of Edmund Tydder son of Owain Tydder. Both these predate any Tudor propaganda. Also there is certainly NO evidence that Catherine and Edmund B had any relationship. Because they wished to marry does not imply this.

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    • No, this is not evidence but part of the manufactured legend as the real Lancastrians had little faith in Henry VI and Edward of Lancaster reigning for many more years. It is evident by 1469 when Owain’s “last words” are quoted. Richard did not have a year to investigate this matter under modern conditions, nor did he have a Doctorate in History, unlike JA-H. Perhaps quotation marks had not been invented?
      Catherine and Edmund (senior) wished to marry but not have a relationship, yet she had children at this time?

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      • halfwit36 on said:

        There is no absolute proof that Edmund and Catherine ever had any relationship beyond a how-do-you-doing’ one. Anything more is simply an assumption, based on the fact that Edmund ‘Beaufort’ and Edmund ‘Tudor’ had the same Christian name.
        Catherine was forbidden to marry Edmund Beaufort, and likewise forbidden to marry Owen Tudor, or any other man, of whatever degree, without her son’s permission. That proves that she shacked up with Owen Tudor (but not that he fathered any of her children). She was forbidden to marry him, and of course she wouldn’t break the law. Or we assume that she wouldn’t, or that O.T. wouldn’t.

        Occam’s Razor says that one shouldn’t multiply assumptions, and certainly not base one assumption upon another. That is begging the question.

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      • Simply based on them sharing a Christian name?
        No, the other evidence includes the contemporary rumours, Somerset’s failure to marry until after Catherine’s death and Henry VIII’s reinterment of Edmund “Tudor” from Carmarthen but not Owen Tudor from Hereford, which is much closer to London.
        Quite apart from Ashdown-Hill’s “Royal Marriage Secrets” (pp.69-73), G.L. Harriss wrote in the ODNB: “By its very nature the evidence for Edmund ‘Tudor’s’ parentage is less than conclusive, but such facts as can be assembled permit the agreeable possibility that Edmund ‘Tudor’ and Margaret Beaufort were first cousins and that the royal house of ‘Tudor’ sprang in fact from Beauforts on both sides.”
        Now I know where the quotation marks around the T-word really come from!
        Given that the Duke of Somerset’s father was that Earl of Somerset who may well have been a legitimate Swynford, changing the younger Edmund’s surname to “Beaufort” risks a second correction later.

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  8. David on said:

    I did not say that Catherine and Edmund B were not intending to have a full relationship in the future at that time. I was saying that there is no evidence that the had a relationship that would produce children. Aristocratic marriages were more about power and estates and there is no evidence that they were any different. To quote “contemporary” rumour is disingenuous – besides being dangerous for a Ricardian – the rumours were about the intention to marry and not about the paternity of Edmund T.

    I think Occam’s razor will be in need of sharpening about the marriage of Somerset. It seems to me that the assertion that he delayed marriage until after Catherine’s death is simply not true. Granted the marriage was pardoned around the same time, but by that time the couple had three or four children. So Somerset seems to be some kind of superman. We have a reasonably accurate estimate for the birth of their third child as January 1436 – about a year before Catherine’s death.

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    • What, no dead women speaking in Parliament five hundred years before any woman did? No Scottish Bishops witnessing scenes before they were born? You disappoint me.

      Edmund “Beaufort” was physically incapable of reproducing until he was legally married?

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      • halfwit36 on said:

        What do dead women and Scottish bishops have to do with anything? Strawman argument.
        “Contemporary rumors?” If contemporary rumors are evidence, then Edward IV really was the son of an archer. Beaufort’s failure to marry until after Catherine’s death proves – what? He was a bachelor and free to marry. Maybe he was pining for her, or maybe it was just coincidence. Interesting speculations, but just speculations, not proof.
        “….the evidence for Edmund ‘Tudor’s’ parentage is LESS than conclusive…the agreeable POSSIBILITY that Edmund Tudor and Margaret Beaufort were first cousins…the Earl of Somerset MAY well have been a legitimate Swynford..” All speculative.
        I apologize for using so many quotation marks in the above, but I was actually quoting. My objection to the overuse of quotation marks or quotation marks “just” for emphasis, is that it makes one “look” illiterate, if you see what I mean. IMO Ricardians should not give anyone the opportunity for that kind of criticism directed at us. (Please do not feel the need to post a list of your degrees. I merely said it “looks” illiterate.)

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      • Because the person in question has previously claimed that Catherine de Valois testified to a second “marriage” in Parliament in 1453, when she died in 1437. He has also claimed that Bishop Leslie of Ross witnessed “Perkin”‘s letter when he was born some years after “Perkin”‘s 1499 death.

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  9. halfwit36 on said:

    What person in question? Source?
    I have ‘witnessed,’ – that is, seen, letters written e.g. by my grandparents years before I was born.

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    • The other poster made these claims on a different forum.

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      • halfwit36 on said:

        That didn’t answer my question.

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      • It did answer one of them.
        We must have answered the other question already in 1100+ comments but:
        In the absence of a conclusive source, history is about logically interpreting the source material we have. Harriss did this with regard to Catherine’s younger children and introduced the quotes around “Tudor”, which Ashdown-Hill has continued.
        The ODNB and CP on the death of Sir Hugh Swynford and the birth (and thus conception) of the Earl of Somerset indicate the likelihood of an overlap between their lives and there is a law from the previous century. See “a genealogical mystery deepens”.

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  10. halfwit36 on said:

    I did a search and couldn’t find it. You made the claim, you should source it.

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