Another follower request: Katherine Swynford. The Duchess of Lancaster (1350 – 1403).
Katherine was born in Hainaut and came to England with her family in 1351. She married Hugh Ottes Swynford, a knight, and had 3 children with her first husband. Soon after, she became the governess to John of Gaunt’s children. When John’s wife Bianche passed away, Katherine and John began having a heated love affair! They had four children out of wedlock! Mon Dieu!
They eventually married and their children were legitimized, but only with the stipulation that neither they nor their descendants could ever claim the throne.
Katherine went from being somewhat of a commoner to being the highest ranked woman in England. It was extremely rare for the times for royalty to marry anyone with whom premarital relations had occurred. Zut alors!
And speaking of their descendants…
John and Katherine had 4 children: John, Henry, Thomas and Joan Beaufort. The provision in their legitimacy barring them to seek the throne was later revoked- their eldest son John was Henry VII’s great grandfather. Joan Beaufort married James I of Scotland and was the grandmother of Edward IV and Richard III.
So essentially, almost the entire royal line of England descends from John and Katherine. Almost every monarch in Europe carries their blood as did five American Presidents and even Winston Churchill.
On John of Gaunt’s tombstone described Katherine as eximia pulchritude feminism. Which means “exceedingly beautiful woman”.
I plan on picking up this book soon so I can read more about this incredible Cinderella story. http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mistress-of-the-monarchy-alison-weir/1013110058?ean=9780345453242