Name: Katherine Roet
Suffix: , Duchess of Lancaster 1
Birth: ABT 1350 1
Death: 10 MAY 1403 in Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England 1
1st Spouse Hugh Swynford, Sir
Katherine de Roet, daughter of Sir Pacn de Roet, a Flemish Herald in the retinue of Queen Philippa of Hainault, Edwar d III's wife and John's mother. He was knighted and died on the field at Bretigny. Philippa took Katherine and her sist er Philippa as her wards and brought them to England. Philippa was raised at court as a lady in waiting and under the Q ueen's auspices was ultimately betrothed to and married Geoffrey Chaucer, then a royal clerk and courtier.
Katharine, who apparently had had plague, was sent to a convent at Sheppey to be raised and educated. At the age of 16 , she went to court and married, seemingly against her will, Hugh Swynford with whom she had 2 children (see note on Hu gh Swynford).
After Hugh's death, she became John's mistress and as such was appointed guardian of his daughters. She travelled aroun d John's various castles but was mainly based at Kenilworth. She spent time at Bolingbrook and at the Savoy and was see mingly treated as John's consort in preference to his wife Castanza.
The Beauforts were John and Katherine 4 children they had during the nine years she was his mistress. On their marriag e in January 1396, the four children were legitimised by decree of John's nephew Richard the II and the then Pope.
John Beaufort (1372 to 1409) had two sons Henry, Earl of Somerset and John, Duke of Somerset who fathered Margaret Beau fort
Henry Beaufort (1375 to 1447) became Cardinal Beaufort.
Thomas Beaufort (1377 to 1427) disappears into obscurity.
Joan Beaufort (1397 to 1440) had as her second husband, Ralph Neville of Derby, 1st Earl of Westmoorland. Joan's daught er, Cicely, married Richard, Duke of York and was mother to Edward IV and Richard III.
Quite why she ended up the relationship after the destruction of the Savoy is mystery. One theory is that William of Ap pleton, who was killed during the raid, may have told her that Nirac had confessed to murdering Hugh. She was, after al l, raised in the strict confines of a Convent and often had bouts of conscience about their "illicit" relationship. I t is known that Walter Dyne, John's priest and confessor also ministered to her and that he was not always discreet!
It may have been that speculation about his death led her to look to her soul. She certainly went on a long pilgrimag e around English shrines and spent time with Dame Julian of Norwich.
She then took all her children back to Kettlethorpe, which greatly offended the people of Lincoln. "Cast off" mistresse s with large broods were not acceptable members of society. She had a struggle to keep the manor going, but gradually a chieved some respectability and was known as the good landlord. She leased a house on Pottergate and spent time in th e city, becoming betrothed to one Robert Sutton, one-time mayor and lifetime Alderman of Lincoln.
She was still betrothed Robert when John re-established contact with the Beaufort children, though not immediately wit h herself. Her relationship with Robert Sutton finally ended when she subsequently married John of Gaunt in Lincoln Cat hedral. The Bishop of Lincoln refused to officiate and they were wed by John Carlton, the sub Dean. It is worth notin g that shortly after his refusal, one bishop Henry Beaufort replaced Bishop Buckingham! Thus, the daughter of a Flemis h Herald became the first lady of England, co-founder of most European Royal Houses and a powerful if invisible influen ce on history.
John and Katherine between them started the Tudor and Yorkist Royal Houses directly and most of the European Royal Hous es can trace their origins back to them through intermarriage. This was not bad for a Flemish Heralds daughter! They ha d fulfilled Merlin's ancient prophecy "thou shalt get kings though there be none!"
Although the name Swynford has no direct link to the Plantagenets, Katherine was married to Hugh Swynford and bore hi m two children who were half brother and sister to the Beauforts and she therefore appears as one of the ancestors to t he Swynfords. She was John's third wife and was Duchess of Lancaster for three years from January 1396 to February 139 9 when John and died at Leicester Castle. Following the death of Richard the II's first wife, Anne of Bohemia, and unti l his marriage to Isabel of France, she was the first lady of England and granted wardship of Isabel.
She had a very important influence on John and indirectly to history through her Beaufort children. However, women wer e not highly regarded and you very rarely hear of her. Little is known of her apart from when her life touched John's a nd which is detailed in his registers. His (now obliterated) epitaph in the original St. Paul's, described her as " a n extremely beautiful woman".
However, since her affair with John sparked a lot of controversy, the less charitable chroniclers at Saint Albans and S aint Marys Abbey, York describes her as "a witch and a whore", "she-devil and enchantress" and other unfavourable comme nts. After the peasants revolt and the destruction or John's Savoy Palace in London, their relationship ended. It was a n acrimonious parting - as witnessed by the "Quit-Claim" in John's register which awards her " a sum of money in the re cognition of her guardianship of his daughter, a tun of Gascon wine and a clause which states that neither she, their c hildren or their heirs have any claim on him or his affairs in perpetuity.
Bearing this in mind, it seems odd that, in the teeth of opposition, scandal and her non-royal status, he should then e ventually marry her, have their four children declared legitimised and elevate her to Queen of the realm in all but nam e. This was after about 10 years apart, with no contact during which time he had had quite a few lady friends, a wife a nd several more bastards.
After John's death, Katherine returned to Kettlethorpe and Lincoln, and died in May 1403. Her son Henry was Bishop of L incoln at the time, and she was buried by the high altar in the cathedral. Her daughter Joan was also buried there an d her tomb can be found if you are facing to the right of the altar. All the decoration and brasses of them have gone , so even her grave gives no idea of her importance to history.
John of Gaunt - Sydney Armitage-Smith
ed by V. H. Galbraith
Father: Payne Roet b: WFT Est 1274-1331 in Hainault, Belgium
Hugh Swynford b: WFT Est 1306-1357
- Thomas Swynford b: 1369
- Blanchette Swynford b: MAY 1367
John Plantagenet b: MAR 1339/40 in Ghent, England
- John Beaufort b: ABT 1372
- Joan Beaufort b: 1375
- Henry Beaufort b: 1376
- Thomas Beaufort b: 1377
- Title: World Family Tree Vol. 4
Author: Tree # 2598
Publication: Release date: August 23, 1996
Repository: Family Archive CD
Text: Customer pedigree.
Page: Tree #2598