This Day in History: 1381-02-05

On 5th February 1381, a thirteen-years-old Henry of Lancaster, Earl of Derby (later Henry IV), son of John of Gaunt, lord of Pontefract, married his eleven-years-old second cousin, Mary de Bohun, younger daughter and co-heir of the late Earl of Hereford at Rochford in Essex. By virtue of this union, Henry had not only a vast Lancastrian inheritance to come, including the earldoms of Leicester, Lincoln, Richmond and the dukedom of Lancaster but also a large portion of the earldoms of Hereford, Essex and Northampton. Chronicler Jean Froissart believed that Gaunt had abducted Mary from his brother Thomas of Woodstock’s keeping as Thomas and his wife, Eleanor, Mary’s elder sister, were said to be intent on ‘forcing’ Mary into service as a nun, thereby claiming the full de Bohun inheritance.