This Day in History: 1359-05-19

Marriage_of_Blanche_of_Lancaster_and_John_of_Gaunt_1359On 19th May 1359 (some sources say the 20th), eighteen-years-old John of Gaunt married thirteen-years-old Blanche of Lancaster, leading to his inheriting various titles: including Earl of Lancaster, Earl of Derby, Lincoln and Leicester. Not all of these titles were inherited at the time of the marriage; some were received on the death of Blanche’s older sister Maude in 1362. Edward III gave lavish presents to Blanche totalling almost £400 (£199,165 in today’s money) including a large brooch with an eagle and huge diamond in its breast, garnished with rubies, diamonds and pearls; this alone valued at £120 (nearly £60,000 today). Shortly before Gaunt’s marriage, he had an affair with a Flemish woman, Marie de Sainte-Hilaire, one of the queen’s ladies. Marie gave birth to a girl, called Blanche in 1359 and Gaunt acknowledged her throughout his life arranging a good marriage to Thomas Morieux, Constable of the Tower of London, around her twenty-first birthday.