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Prince John of Gaunt
The story and biography of John of Gaunt which contains interesting information, facts & the history about the life of John of Gaunt. John was the third surviving son of the Plantagenet King Edward III. He was born to the most powerful dynasties in England. His brothers were Edward, the Black Prince, Lionel, the Duke of Clarence, the Edmund, Duke of York and Thomas the Duke of Gloucester. After the death of his elder brother, Edward, the Black Prince, John of Gaunt became increasingly powerful. John of Gaunt became the protector of his brother's young son, Richard II and effectively ruled England during his minority. His first marriage to Blanche of Lancaster was a happy one. His second marriage to Constance of Castile was quite the opposite. He took Katherine Swynford as his mistress and although their relationship was turbulent he married her when he was fifty-six years old. They had four children and were the ancestors of the Tudors.
Following the death of his elder brother, Edward of Woodstock (later known as The Black Prince), John of Gaunt became increasingly powerful. He contrived to protect the religious reformer John Wycliffe possibly to counteract the growing secular power of the Roman Catholic Church .
However, Gaunt'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, and Edward III's rule had started to become domestically unpopular, due to high taxation and to the king's affair with Alice Ferrers , political opinion closely associated the Duke of Lancaster with the failing government of the 1370s . Furthermore, while the king and the Prince of Wales had the status of 'popular heroes' due to their success on the battlefield, John of Gaunt had never known equivalent military success, which might have bolstered his reputation. Although he did fight in the Battle of Nájera (Navarrete) , for example, his later military projects, such as his chevauchée of 1373 and his invasion of Castile in 1386, were unsuccessful.
Without the alliance between King John I, the Archbishop of Braga and Prince John of Gaunt, brother of the Black Prince, Portugal would probably have lost its independence to Castile. Central to that alliance negotiated by the archbishop and Prince John, was that John's daughter, Philippa of Lancaster, would be married to the 28-year-old King John I and become queen of Portugal.
King John I was forced by necessity to agree to these terms although he had no intention of fulfilling his part of the agreement. Initially the king retreated to the country for two months with his mistress and their two illegitimate children, and sent back protestations that his monastic oath would prevent his ever contracting a marriage. John of Gaunt immediately produced a letter from the pope absolving the king of his vows of celibacy but the king continued to abscond from the marriage. On February 2, 1387 John sent the king a demand, delivered by an army of England's best troops, that the marriage take place at once or England would withhold from Portugal a loan that was desperately needed. King John I finally capitulated and later that month, on Candlemas Day, the Archbishop of Braga united the sullen king with the mortified princess in a resplendent ceremony.
Despite the many flaws he possessed, John of Gaunt (a name given to him because of his birthplace in Ghent, Belgium) was able to build up a reputation as a brilliant politician, a competent military strategist and a man of immense wealth and power. The third surviving son of King Edward III, John was given power at a very young age when he was awarded the title of Earl of Richmond when he was just two-years-old. Gaunt was raised in the household of his eldest brother Edward the Black Prince, a man known for his military prowess. For this reason, Gaunt was exposed to war when still a teenager (a common practice in medieval times) and participated in several campaigns against the French during the Hundred Years War. Although John did not come close to matching the abilities of his father and elder brother on the battlefield, he proved to be more than worthy to fight along side them. In 1359, John married Blanche of Lancaster, the heiress of the vast Lancastrian estates. When her father died two years later, John inherited all of his wealth, land and titles, which included several earldoms, large amounts of territory and the title of Duke of Lancaster.