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Henry VII, King of England and Lord of Ireland.

In our first look at the royal ancestry of Henry VII we’ll examine the maternal line starting with His mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort May 31, 1441 or 1443 – June 29, 1509. She had been an essential figure in the Wars of the Roses and an influential matriarch of the House of Tudor. She was the daughter and sole heiress of John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset (1404–1444), who was a great-grandson of King Edward III through his third surviving son, John of Gaunt by Katherine Swynford. It was Margaret’s descent from John of Gaunt that gave Henry Tudor, 2nd Earl of Richmond a slight claim to the English throne. Henry VII’s descent from Edward III also establishes Henry’s first link to royal ancestry.

Lady Margaret Beaufor, Countess of Richmond.

Though noted last week, just because Henry had royal ancestry doesn’t conclude his claim to the throne was strong. At first the children of John of Gaunt by Katherine Swynford were illegitimate, however, Letters Patent in 1397 by Richard II and a subsequent Papal Bull issued by the Pope Eugene IV, legitimized the adult children of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford with full rights to the throne. However, an Act of Parliament in the reign of Henry IV confirmed their legitimacy but barred the children from having succession rights to the throne.

Also, as stated in my original post, that Henry VII’s royal ancestry was not just from the English Royal Family, he descended from other royal houses that English royalty married into, such as the royal houses of France and Spain. For the rest of this post as I examine the royal descent of Henry VII, I’ll examine the ancestry of the spouses of the English kings from which he descends.

The ancestry I’ll examine next is Philippe of Hainaut, spouse of Edward III who were Henry VII’s closest royal ancestors. Philippa was born June 24, c.1310/15 in Valenciennes in the County of Hainaut in the Low Countries, a daughter of William I, Count of Hainaut, and Joan of Valois, Countess of Hainaut, a granddaughter of Philippe III of France. She was one of eight children and the second of five daughters. Her eldest sister Margaret married the Holy Roman Emperor Ludwig IV in 1324. 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 (second city in importance of the county of Hainaut) 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.

Philippe IV, King of France

With Philippa being a great-granddaughter of Philippe III of France, her royal ancestry does reconnect back to the English Royal Family. Philippe III himself was a great-great-grandson of Henry II of England via his daughter Eleanor who married Alfonso VIII of Castile. Their daughter Blanche of Castile married Louis VIII of France and their son was Louis IX of France the father of Philippe III. Philippa and Edward III were second cousins via their descent from Philippe III.

Next royal ancestry we’ll examine is Isabella of France (1295 – 22 August 1358), sometimes described as the She-Wolf of France. She was Queen of England as the wife of Edward II, and regent of England from 1326 until 1330. She was the youngest surviving child and only surviving daughter of Philippe IV of France and Joan I of Navarre. Queen Isabella was notable at the time for her beauty, diplomatic skills, and intelligence.

Isabella is descended from Gytha of Wessex through King Andrew II of Hungary and thus brought the bloodline of the last Anglo-Saxon King of England, Harold II Godwinson, back into the English Royal family.

As said, Isabella was married to Edward II of England and her first cousin, Joan of Valois, was the daughter of Charles of Valois (himself a brother of Philippe IV of France, the father of Isabella) and Joan married William I, Count of Hainaut and their daughter, Philippa of Hainaut, was the wife Edward III son of Edward II and Isabella!

Arms of the Kings of France

If you can follow that, it simply means that Philippa and Edward III were second cousins via their descent from Philippe III. This further exemplifies the fact that these cousin relationships increased the number of times Henry VII descended from the royal families of France, Castile and even England.

To keep this post at a digestible level I’ll stop here.