The House of Lancaster

The House of Lancaster, a branch of the Plantagenet family, descended from John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, the third surviving son of King Edward III, produced 3 Kings of England- Henry IV (1367 -1413), Henry V (1386 - 1422) and Henry VI (1421 - 1471).

The first Earl of Lancaster was Edmund Crouchback, younger son of King Henry III, Edmund's son Thomas inherited his father's estates in 1296, but was executed in 1322 after he joined a baronial rebellion against his cousin Edward II and his titles and estates were forfeited to the crown. In 1326, Thomas' younger brother Henry successfully petitioned to take possession of the Earldom of Lancaster and Parliament posthumously reversed Thomas's conviction. On Henry's death in 1345 his titles and estates passed to his son, Henry of Grosmont, who was elevated to Duke of Lancaster by Edward III.

The House of Lancaster

Henry had no sons to succeed him but left two daughters, Maud and Blanche of Lancaster. Blanche was married to Edward III's son John of Gaunt, who inherited his possessions and ducal title through right of his wife. On Gaunt's death in 1399, his lands were confiscated by King Richard II. Gaunt's exiled son and heir Henry of Bolingbroke returned to England with an army and took control of the Kingdom. Richard II was deposed and Henry of Bolingbroke was declared King Henry IV. His son, Henry V, was a successful medieval martial ruler. He conquered France in re-assertion of the claim to the French throne he inherited from Edward III and bequeathed to his infant son, the ill-fated Henry VI, two kingdoms and an inheritance that was to prove impossible to maintain.

In 1453, at the age of 32, Henry VI began to exhibit signs of serious mental illness. By means of a "sudden fright" he entered into a trance-like state reacting to and recognizing no one. Catatonic schizophrenia or depressive stupor have been suggested as a likely diagnosis. This was probably an inheritance from his maternal grandfather, Charles VI of France, who himself suffered from bouts of schizophrenia. His cousin Richard, Duke of York, who possessed a slightly senior claim to the House of Lancaster according to cognatic primogeniture, was made Lord Protector, but later laid claim to the throne for himself and his descendants. York was killed at the Battle of Wakefield in 1460, after which the Yorkist claim devolved on his eldest son, Edward Earl of March. Edward deposed Henry VI and was crowned Edward IV in 1461.

Henry's young son, Edward, the Lancastrian Prince of Wales was killed during or after the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471, Henry VI met his death in the Tower of London, on the night of the Vigil of the Ascension, 21st -22nd May, 1471. The demise of his son at Tewkesbury had sealed his fate. While Edward of Lancaster still lived, he had rendered the removal of Henry pointless. The demise of Henry VI and the Beaufort male line left Margaret Beaufort, and her son, Henry Tudor, as the senior representatives of the House of Lancaster. When the last Yorkist king, Richard III was killed in battle at Bosworth Field in 1485. The new king, Henry VII, who represented the Lancastrian line, married Edward IV's eldest daughter Elizabeth of York, thereby uniting the claims of both houses in the person of their son, King Henry VIII.

Henry IV b.1366
son of
John of Gaunt
& Blanche of Lancaster
(1) Mary de Bohun
(2)Joan of Navarre
Henry V son of-
Henry IV
& Mary de Bohun
r. 1413- 22
Catherine of Valois
Henry VI
son of-
Henry V
&Catherine of Valois
r 1422- 61 & 1470-71
Margaret of Anjou

Edmund Crouchback
Earl of Lancaster
Thomas, Earl of
Henry, Earl of
Henry of Grosmont
Duke of Lancaster
John of Gaunt
Duke of Lancaster
Blanche of
Constance of
Katherine Swynford
Philippa of
Queen of Portugal
Catherine of
Queen of Castile
Thomas Duke of
Humphrey Duke
of Gloucester
John Duke of
Joan of Arc The Wars of the Roses The Battle of
The Battle of
Mortimers Cross
The Battle of Towton The Battle of Barnet The Battle of
The Battle of Bosworth Edward of Lancaster,
Prince of Wales
John Talbot,
1st Earl of Shrewsbury
Joan of Arc
The Beaufort Family Cardinal Beaufort John Beaufort Edmund Beaufort
Margaret Beaufort Jasper Tudor
Earl of Pembroke
The Percy Family Harry Hotspur
Kenilworth Castle Genealogical Tables John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury Jane Shore