Issue of Edward III of England

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Six of the children of King Edward III depicted as bronze statuettes on the south side of the base of his tomb in Westminster Abbey: Edward the Black Prince; Edmund of Langley; William of Hatfield; Lionel of Antwerp; Mary of Brittany; Joan of the Tower. Similar statuettes of six further children appeared on the north side, now lost Westminster Abbey Edward3.jpg
Six of the children of King Edward III depicted as bronze statuettes on the south side of the base of his tomb in Westminster Abbey: Edward the Black Prince; Edmund of Langley; William of Hatfield; Lionel of Antwerp; Mary of Brittany; Joan of the Tower. Similar statuettes of six further children appeared on the north side, now lost
1840 drawing of the six surviving bronze statuettes on the south side of the base of the tomb of King Edward III in Westminster Abbey, representing some of his progeny ProgenyOf KingEdwardIII DetailFromTomb WestminsterAbbey.png
1840 drawing of the six surviving bronze statuettes on the south side of the base of the tomb of King Edward III in Westminster Abbey, representing some of his progeny
Edward's sons' arms appear over the Great Gate of Trinity College, Cambridge: York, Clarence, Wales, Hatfield, Lancaster, and Gloucester. Trinity College Great Gate, March 2016.jpg
Edward's sons' arms appear over the Great Gate of Trinity College, Cambridge: York, Clarence, Wales, Hatfield, Lancaster, and Gloucester.

King Edward III of England and his wife, Philippa of Hainault, had eight sons and six daughters. The Wars of the Roses were fought between the different factions of Edward III's descendants. The following list outlines the genealogy supporting male heirs ascendant to the throne during the conflict, and the roles of their cousins. However to mobilise arms and wealth, significant major protagonists were Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick ("The Kingmaker"), Edmund Beaufort, 4th Duke of Somerset and Henry Percy, 3rd Earl of Northumberland and their families. A less powerful but determining role was played by Humphrey Stafford, 1st Duke of Buckingham and Elizabeth Woodville and their families.

Edward III of England King of England

Edward III was King of England and Lord of Ireland from January 1327 until his death; he is noted for his military success and for restoring royal authority after the disastrous and unorthodox reign of his father, Edward II. Edward III transformed the Kingdom of England into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe. His long reign of 50 years was the second longest in medieval England and saw vital developments in legislation and government, in particular the evolution of the English parliament, as well as the ravages of the Black Death.

Philippa of Hainault Queen consort of England

Philippa of Hainault was Queen of England as the wife of King Edward III. Edward promised in 1326 to marry her within the following two years. She was married to Edward, first by proxy, when Edward dispatched the Bishop of Coventry "to marry her in his name" in Valenciennes in October 1327. The marriage was celebrated formally in York Minster on 24 January 1328, some months after Edward's accession to the throne of England. In August 1328, he also fixed his wife's dower.

Wars of the Roses Dynastic civil war in England during the 15th-century

The Wars of the Roses were a series of English civil wars for control of the throne of England fought between supporters of two rival cadet branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the House of Lancaster, associated with the Red Rose of Lancaster, and the House of York, whose symbol was the White Rose of York. Eventually, the wars eliminated the male lines of both families. The conflict lasted through many sporadic episodes between 1455 and 1487, but there was related fighting before and after this period between the parties. The power struggle ignited around social and financial troubles following the Hundred Years' War, unfolding the structural problems of bastard feudalism, combined with the mental infirmity and weak rule of King Henry VI which revived interest in the House of York's claim to the throne by Richard of York. Historians disagree on which of these factors to identify as the main reason for the wars.


According to British geneticist Adam Rutherford, it is "virtually impossible" that a person with a predominantly British ancestry is not descended from Edward III. [2] He has calculated that "almost every Briton" is "descended between 21 and 24 generations from Edward III". [3]

Adam Rutherford British geneticist, author, and broadcaster

Adam David Rutherford is a British geneticist, author, and broadcaster. He was an audio-visual content editor for the journal Nature for a decade, is a frequent contributor to the newspaper The Guardian, hosts the BBC Radio 4 programme Inside Science, has produced several science documentaries and has published books related to genetics and the origin of life.


The Wars of the Roses were civil wars over the throne of the Kingdom of England fought among the descendants of King Edward III through his five surviving adult sons. [4] Each branch of the family had competing claims through seniority, legitimacy, and/or the sex of their ancestors, despite patriarchal rule of the day. Thus, the senior Plantagenet line was ended with the death of Richard II, but not before the execution of Thomas of Woodstock for treason. The heirs presumptive through Lionel of Antwerp were passed over in favour of the powerful Henry IV, descendant of Edward III through John of Gaunt. These Lancaster kings initially survived the treason of their Edmund of Langley (York) cousins but eventually were deposed by the merged Lionel/Edmund line in the person of Edward IV. Internecine killing among the Yorks left Richard III as king, supported and then betrayed by his cousin Buckingham, the descendant of Thomas of Woodstock. Finally, the Yorks were dislodged by the remaining Lancastrian candidate, Henry VII of the House of Tudor, another descendant of John of Gaunt, who married the eldest daughter of Yorkist King Edward IV.

Kingdom of England Historic sovereign kingdom on the British Isles (927–1649; 1660–1707)

The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain from 927, when it emerged from various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms until 1707, when it united with Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Edward IV of England King of England

Edward IV was King of England from 4 March 1461 to 3 October 1470, and again from 11 April 1471 until his death. He was the first Yorkist king.

Richard III of England King of England

Richard III was King of England and Lord of Ireland from 1483 until his death in 1485. He was the last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty. His defeat and death at the Battle of Bosworth Field, the last decisive battle of the Wars of the Roses, marked the end of the Middle Ages in England. He is the protagonist of Richard III, one of William Shakespeare's history plays.

Edward, the Black Prince (1330–1376)

Edward, the Black Prince (15 June 1330 8 June 1376), Duke of Cornwall, Prince of Wales. The eldest son of Edward III who predeceased his father and never became king. Edward's only surviving child was Richard II who ascended to the throne but produced no heirs. Richard II designated as his heir presumptive his cousin Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March, senior heir of the female line, the grandson of Lionel of Antwerp, but this succession never took place as Richard II was eventually deposed and succeeded by another of Richard's cousins, Henry Bolingbroke (who ascended as Henry IV), who was senior heir of the male line.

Duke of Cornwall title in the Peerage of England

Duke of Cornwall is a title in the Peerage of England, traditionally held by the eldest son of the reigning British monarch, previously the English monarch. The Duchy of Cornwall was the first duchy created in England and was established by a royal charter in 1337. The present duke is the Prince of Wales, the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II. His wife, Camilla, is the current Duchess of Cornwall.

Prince of Wales British Royal Family Title

Prince of Wales was a title granted to native Welsh princes before the 12th century; the term replaced the use of the word king. One of the last Welsh princes, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, was killed in battle in 1282 by Edward I, King of England, whose son Edward was invested as the first English Prince of Wales in 1301.

Richard II of England King of England

Richard II, also known as Richard of Bordeaux, was King of England from 1377 until he was deposed in 1399. Richard's father, Edward the Black Prince, died in 1376, leaving Richard as heir apparent to King Edward III. Upon the death of his grandfather Edward III, the 10-year-old Richard succeeded to the throne.

William of Hatfield (1336–1337)

William of Hatfield (1336 1337), second son, was born at Hatfield near Doncaster in the West Riding of Yorkshire late in 1336, where Edward III kept Christmas with Queen Philippa. He was baptised by William Melton, archbishop of York, but died soon afterwards. He was buried at York Minster on 10 February 1337. [5] [6] [7] His memorial is in the north quire aisle, but the position of his grave is unknown.

York Minster Church in York, England

The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York, commonly known as York Minster, is the cathedral of York, England, and is one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe. The minster is the seat of the Archbishop of York, the third-highest office of the Church of England, and is the mother church for the Diocese of York and the Province of York. It is run by a dean and chapter, under the Dean of York. The title "minster" is attributed to churches established in the Anglo-Saxon period as missionary teaching churches, and serves now as an honorific title. Services in the minster are sometimes regarded as on the High Church or Anglo-Catholic end of the Anglican continuum.

Lionel of Antwerp, Duke of Clarence (1338–1368)

Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence (29 November 1338 7 October 1368), third son. He also predeceased his father. Lionel's only child, Philippa, was acquired as a wife by the powerful Mortimer family, which as noted above had exerted enormous influence during the reigns of Edward II and Edward III. Philippa's son Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March was the designated heir of King Richard II but predeceased him, leaving his young son Edmund as heir presumptive. Anne Mortimer, Edmund Mortimer's eldest sister and Lionel of Antwerp's great-granddaughter, married Richard, Earl of Cambridge of the House of York, merging the Lionel of Antwerp/Mortimer line into the York line.

Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence Duke of clarence

Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence, KG was the third son, but the second son to survive infancy, of the English king Edward III and Philippa of Hainault. He was named after his birthplace, at Antwerp in the Duchy of Brabant. Lionel was born of a Flemish mother and was a grandson of William I, Count of Hainaut. He grew to be nearly seven feet in height and had an athletic build.

Philippa, 5th Countess of Ulster Countess of ulster

Philippa of Clarence was the suo jure Countess of Ulster.

Earl of March Titles in the peerages of Scotland and England

Earl of March is a title that has been created several times in the Peerage of Scotland and the Peerage of England. The title derived from the "marches" or borderlands between England and either Wales or Scotland, and it was held by several great feudal families which owned lands in those districts. Later, however, the title came to be granted as an honorary dignity, and ceased to carry any associated power in the marches.

John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster (1340–1399)

John of Gaunt (6 March 1340 3 February 1399), 1st Duke of Lancaster, fourth son.

Legitimate male heirs (Lancaster)

From the marriage of John of Gaunt and Blanche of Lancaster, daughter and heiress of the Duke of Lancaster, descended legitimate male heirs, the Lancasters (King Henry IV (1399–1413), who as Henry of Bolingbroke in 1399 deposed his first cousin King Richard II (1377–1399), and was followed by his son King Henry V (1413–1422) and the latter's son King Henry VI (1422–1471). This line ended in 1471 when King Henry VI's son Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales was killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury and when he himself was deposed by his third cousin Edward, 4th Duke of York of the York faction (great-grandson of Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, 5th son of King Edward III), who reigned as King Edward IV.

The Lancaster kings also had Plantagenet ancestry on the female side from Blanche of Lancaster, wife of John Gaunt, daughter of Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster (c.1310–1361), descended from Edmund Crouchback, 1st Earl of Lancaster, the second son of King Henry III (1216–1272), the great-grandfather of King Edward III. A legend was developed, although without foundation, claiming that Edmund Crouchback was older than his brother King Edward I and had been passed over in the succession because of physical infirmity. [8]

Legitimized male heirs (Beaufort)

John of Gaunt's legitimized heirs were the Beaufort family, his descendants by his mistress, and later his wife, Katherine Swynford. Gaunt's great-granddaughter from this union, Margaret Beaufort (1443–1509) was the last legitimate descendant of the Beauforts and married into the House of Tudor, producing a single child Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond who in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth seized the throne from his mother's third cousin King Richard III (1483–1485) and ruled as King Henry VII (1485–1509). While the Beaufort offspring had been legitimized by Richard II by act of parliament and papal bull, after Gaunt's eventual marriage to Katherine Swynford, this was later, by letters patent issued by Henry IV, conditioned that they be barred from ascending the throne. Undeterred by this, and following the 1461 seizure of the throne by the Yorkist King Edward IV (1461–1483) from the Lancastrian King Henry VI (1422–1461), the Tudors claimed precedence to the Yorks the last of whom, King Richard III was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

The present Somerset family, Dukes of Beaufort, of Badminton House in Gloucestershire, are illegitimate direct male descendants of John of Gaunt, being illegitimate descendants of Henry Beaufort, 3rd Duke of Somerset, first cousin of Margaret Beaufort (1443–1509). They assumed "Somerset" as their family surname, but bear as arms the ancient arms of the Beaufort family: The royal arms of King Edward III within a bordure compony argent and azure, [9] and in 1682 were created Dukes of Beaufort.

Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York (1341–1402)

Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York (5 June 1341 1 August 1402), fifth son. His descendants were the Yorks. He had two sons: Edward of Norwich, 2nd Duke of York, killed fighting alongside Henry V at the Battle of Agincourt, and Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge, executed by Henry V for treason (involving a plot to place heir presumptive Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March, Cambridge's brother-in-law and cousin, on the throne). As noted above, Richard had married Anne de Mortimer, this giving their son (and the House of York), through Lionel of Antwerp, a more senior claim than that of both the House of Lancaster, which descended from a younger son than Lionel, and the House of Tudor, whose legitimized Beaufort ancestors had been debarred from the throne. In 1460 Richard, 3rd Duke of York claimed the throne on this basis, but an Act of Accord meant he instead became heir. However he was killed later that year, causing his son Edward to take over.

Thomas of Windsor (1347–1348)

Thomas of Windsor (13471348), 6th son.

William of Windsor (1348–1348)

William of Windsor (24 June 1348 5 September 1348), 7th son. Died from the plague as an infant.

Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester (1355–1397)

Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester (7 January 1355 8/9 September 1397), eighth son. He was one of the Lords Appellant influential under Richard II, was murdered or executed for treason, likely by the order of Richard II; his eventual heir was his daughter Anne, who married into the Stafford family, whose heirs became the Dukes of Buckingham. Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, descended on his father's side from Thomas of Woodstock, and on his mother's side from John Beaufort.


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John of Gaunt 14th-century English nobleman, royal duke, and politician

John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster was an English prince, military leader, and statesman. He was the third of the five sons of King Edward III of England who survived to adulthood. Due to his royal origin, advantageous marriages, and some generous land grants, Gaunt was one of the richest men of his era, and an influential figure during the reigns of both his father, Edward, and his nephew, Richard II. As Duke of Lancaster, he is the founder of the royal House of Lancaster, whose members would ascend to the throne after his death. His birthplace, Ghent, corrupted into English as Gaunt, was the origin for his name. When he became unpopular later in life, scurrilous rumours and lampoons circulated that he was actually the son of a Ghent butcher, perhaps because Edward III was not present at the birth. This story always drove him to fury.

Katherine Swynford Duchess of lancaster

Katherine Swynford, Duchess of Lancaster, also spelled Katharine or Catherine, was the third wife of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, a son of King Edward III. She had been the Duke's lover for many years before their marriage. The couple's children, born before the marriage, were later legitimised during the reign of the Duke's nephew, Richard II. When the Duke's son from his first marriage overthrew Richard, becoming Henry IV, he introduced a provision that neither they nor their descendants could ever claim the throne of England, however, the legitimacy for all rights was a parliamentary statute that Henry IV lacked the authority to amend.

John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset Earl of Somerset

John Beaufort, 1st Marquess of Somerset and 1st Marquess of Dorset, later only 1st Earl of Somerset, was an English nobleman and politician. He was the first of the four illegitimate children of John of Gaunt (1340-1399) by his mistress Katherine Swynford, whom he later married in 1396. Beaufort's surname probably reflects his birthplace at his father's castle and manor of Beaufort in Champagne, France, situated 100 miles east of Paris, 25 miles north-east of Troyes, and between the River Seine and River Marne. The Portcullis heraldic badge of the Beauforts, now the emblem of the House of Commons, is believed to have been based on that of the castle of Beaufort, now demolished.

House of Lancaster English noble family

The House of Lancaster was the name of two cadet branches of the royal House of Plantagenet. The first house was created when Henry III of England created the Earldom of Lancaster—from which the house was named—for his second son Edmund Crouchback in 1267. Edmund had already been created Earl of Leicester in 1265 and was granted the lands and privileges of Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, after de Montfort's death and attainder at the end of the Second Barons' War. When Edmund's son Thomas, 2nd Earl of Lancaster, inherited his father-in-law's estates and title of Earl of Lincoln he became at a stroke the most powerful nobleman in England, with lands throughout the kingdom and the ability to raise vast private armies to wield power at national and local levels. This brought him—and Henry, his younger brother—into conflict with their cousin Edward II of England, leading to Thomas's execution. Henry inherited Thomas's titles and he and his son, who was also called Henry, gave loyal service to Edward's son—Edward III of England.

House of York Cadet branch of the English royal House of Plantagenet

The House of York was a cadet branch of the English royal House of Plantagenet. Three of its members became kings of England in the late 15th century. The House of York was descended in the male line from Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, the fourth surviving son of Edward III, but also represented Edward's senior line, being cognatic descendants of Lionel, Duke of Clarence, Edward III's second surviving son. It is based on these descents that they claimed the English crown. Compared with the House of Lancaster, it had a senior claim to the throne of England according to cognatic primogeniture but junior claim according to the agnatic primogeniture. The reign of this dynasty ended with the death of Richard III of England at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. It became extinct in the male line with the death of Edward Plantagenet, 17th Earl of Warwick, in 1499.

Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York Duke of york

Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, KG was the fourth surviving son of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault. Like many medieval English princes, Edmund gained his nickname from his birthplace: Kings Langley Palace in Hertfordshire. He was the founder of the House of York, but it was through the marriage of his younger son, Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge, to Anne de Mortimer, great-granddaughter of Edmund's elder brother Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence, that the House of York made its claim to the English throne in the Wars of the Roses. The other party in the Wars of the Roses, the incumbent House of Lancaster, was formed from descendants of Edmund's elder brother John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, Edward III's third son.

Anne de Mortimer Medieval English noble

Anne Mortimer was a medieval English noblewoman who became an ancestress to the royal House of York, one of the parties in the fifteenth-century dynastic Wars of the Roses. It was her line of descent which gave the Yorkist dynasty its claim to the throne. Anne was the mother of Richard, Duke of York, and thus grandmother of kings Edward IV and Richard III.

Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March 14th/15th-century English noble

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Edmund Mortimer, 3rd Earl of March Earl of March and jure uxoris Earl of Ulster

Edmund de Mortimer, 3rd Earl of March and jure uxoris Earl of Ulster was son of Roger Mortimer, 2nd Earl of March, by his wife Philippa, daughter of William Montagu, 1st Earl of Salisbury and Catherine Grandison.

House of Plantagenet Royal dynasty in medieval England

The House of Plantagenet was a royal house which originated from the lands of Anjou in France. The name Plantagenet is used by modern historians to identify four distinct royal houses: the Angevins, who were also counts of Anjou; the main body of the Plantagenets following the loss of Anjou; and the Plantagenets' two cadet branches, the houses of Lancaster and York. The family held the English throne from 1154, with the accession of Henry II, until 1485, when Richard III died in battle.

Elizabeth de Burgh, 4th Countess of Ulster Irish countess

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Anne of Gloucester Countess of Stafford

Anne of Gloucester, Countess of Stafford was the eldest daughter of Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester, and Eleanor de Bohun.

Henry Scrope, 3rd Baron Scrope of Masham English Baron

Henry Scrope, 3rd Baron Scrope of Masham KG was a favourite of Henry V, who performed many diplomatic missions. He was beheaded for his involvement in the notional Southampton Plot to assassinate the king. Some historians believe that the charge was trumped-up to punish him for other acts of disloyalty, and that there may never have been such a plot.

Thomas Chaucer Speaker of the British House of Commons

Thomas Chaucer was Speaker of the House of Commons and son of Geoffrey Chaucer, the poet, by his wife Philippa Roet.

Southampton Plot

The Southampton Plot was a conspiracy in medieval England, revealed in 1415, to depose King Henry V and replace him with Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March.

Alianore Holland, Countess of March was the eldest daughter of Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent, and the wife of Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March, heir presumptive to her uncle, King Richard II. Through her daughter, Anne Mortimer, she was the great-grandmother of the Yorkist kings Edward IV and Richard III. She was governess to Richard II's wife, Isabella of Valois.

Edmund Mortimer (rebel) 14th/15th-century English nobleman

Sir Edmund Mortimer IV was an English nobleman, landowner and rebel who played a part in the rebellions of the Welsh leader Owain Glyndŵr and of the Percy family against King Henry IV, at the beginning of the 15th century. He perished at the siege of Harlech as part of these conflicts. He was related to many members of the English royal family through his mother, Philippa, Countess of Ulster, who was a granddaughter of King Edward III of England.


  2. Greengrass, Martha (14 September 2017). "Family Fortunes: Adam Rutherford On How We Are All Related to Royalty".
  3. Rudgard, Olivia (27 June 2017). "It's not just Danny Dyer who is related to royalty - we all are, geneticist says". The Daily Telegraph.
  4. Burke's Presidential Families of the USA, 1981
  5. "Gesta Edwardi de Carnarvon auctore cononici Bridlingtoniensi, cum continuatione ad A.D. 1377", Chronicles of the Reigns of Edward I and II, ed. W. Stubbs, 2 vols., Rolls Series (London, 1882–3), Vol. 63, ii, pp. 128–29.
  6. Register of William Melton, Archbishop of York 1317–1340, ed. R. M. Hill, Canterbury and York Society, vol. 70 (1977), p. 109, no.370.
  7. W. Mark Ormrod, Edward III, Yale University Press, London, 2013, p. 174.
  8. John of Gaunt also had legitimate descendants through his daughters Philippa of Lancaster, Queen of Portugal, the mother of Edward, King of Portugal; Elizabeth of England, Duchess of Exeter, the mother of John Holland, 2nd Duke of Exeter; and Catherine of Lancaster, Queen of Castile, a granddaughter of King Peter and the mother of King John II of Castile, but these Castilians engaged in their own wars over the Spanish succession and did not assert any claims to the English throne in the Wars of the Roses — and they all were of the female line, something the Lancaster claim avoided because they were originally secondary to certain senior female descents such as the Mortimers.
  9. Debrett's Peerage, 1968, p.125
  10. Marks of Cadency in the British Royal Family
  11. Marks of Cadency in the British Royal Family