Issue of Edward III of England

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Edward III and the Black Prince

Edward III of England is the ancestor of many European monarchs (as well as the issue of many English Dukes, Earls and Viscounts) through his sons John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster; Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence; Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York and Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester. All of Edward's legitimate children were by Philippa of Hainault.

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 the Neville (The Kingmaker), Beaufort and Percy families. A less powerful but determining role was also played by members of the Stafford and Woodville families.

The sons[edit]

The Wars of the Roses were a civil war over the throne of the Kingdom of England fought among the descendants of King Edward III through his five surviving adult sons.[1] Each branch of the family had competing claims through seniority, legitimacy, and/or the sex of their ancestors.

(1) Edward, the Black Prince (15 June 1330 – 8 June 1376), Duke of Cornwall, Prince of Wales

The eldest son of Edward III 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.

(2) William of Hatfield (16 February 1337 – 8 July 1337), buried at York Minster.

(3) Lionel of Antwerp (29 November 1338 – 7 October 1368), Duke of Clarence

Lionel also predeceased his father. Lionel's only child, Philippa, married into 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 Richard II (but predeceased him, leaving his young son Edmund as heir presumptive). Anne Mortimer, Edmund's eldest sister, Lionel of Antwerp's great-granddaughter, married Richard, Earl of Cambridge of the House of York, merging the Lionel/Mortimer line into the York line.

(4) John of Gaunt (6 March 1340 – 3 February 1399), Duke of Lancaster.

From John of Gaunt descended legitimate male heirs, the Lancasters (Henry IV, who deposed Richard II, and then Henry V and Henry VI). This line ended when Henry VI was successfully deposed by Edward IV of the York faction and Henry's son Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales was killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury.
The Lancaster kings derived their ancestry also (through Blanche of Lancaster, wife of John Gaunt) from Edmund Crouchback, 1st Earl of Lancaster, who was the second son of Henry III of England and Eleanor of Provence. A legend without foundation was developed claiming that Edmund was older than his brother Edward I of England but passed over in the succession because of physical infirmity.[2]
John of Gaunt's legitimized heirs were the Beauforts, his descendants through his mistress (later, his wife) Katherine Swynford. A daughter of the house, Gaunt's great-granddaughter Margaret Beaufort, married into the House of Tudor, producing a single child who would become Henry VII. While the Beaufort offspring had been legitimized after Gaunt's eventual marriage to Swynford, this was on the condition that they be barred from ascending the throne. Undeterred by this, upon the failure of the primary Lancastrian line, the Tudors claimed precedence to the Yorks and eventually succeeded them, after the last Yorkist King Richard III was killed in battle with Henry.
The Dukes of Beaufort are his direct male line descendants and thus the lone surviving male line descendants of the House of Plantagenet.

(5) Edmund of Langley (5 June 1341 – 1 August 1402), Duke of York.

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.

(6) Thomas of Windsor (1347 – 1348)

(7) William of Windsor (24 June 1348 – 5 September 1348). Died of plague.

(8) Thomas of Woodstock (7 January 1355 – 8/9 September 1397), Duke of Gloucester.

The Great Seal of Edward III
Thomas, who 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.

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.

The daughters[edit]


  1. ^ Burke's Presidential Families of the USA, 1981
  2. ^ 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.