Eleanor of Lancaster, Countess of Arundel (sometimes called Eleanor Plantagenet; September 11, 1318 – January 11, 1372) was a member of the English Royal Family and the fifth daughter of Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster and Maud Chaworth.
Her father, Henry, 3rd Earl of Leicester and Lancaster (c. 1281 – 1345) was a grandson of King Henry III (1216–1272) of England and was one of the principals behind the deposition of King Edward II (1307–1327), his first cousin. Henry, 3rd Earl of Leicester and Lancastern was the younger son of Edmund Crouchback, 1st Earl of Lancaster, Earl of Leicester, a son of King Henry III by his wife Eleanor of Provence. Henry’s mother was Blanche of Artois, Queen Dowager of Navarre.
Eleanor married first on November 6, 1330 John de Beaumont, 2nd Baron Beaumont (d. 1342), son of Henry de Beaumont, 4th Earl of Buchan, 1st Baron Beaumont (c.1288-1340) by his wife Alice Comyn (1289-3 July 1349).
Henry de Beaumont was the grandson of John of Brienne, King of Jerusalem and later Latin Emperor of Constantinople by his third wife, Berengaria of Leon, making Henry a second cousin of Edward II of England.
John de Beaumont died in a jousting tournament on April 14, 1342. They had one son, born to Eleanor in Ghent whilst serving as lady-in-waiting to Queen Philippa of Hainault:
Henry de Beaumont, 3rd Baron Beaumont, (1340 — 1369), the first husband of Lady Margaret de Vere (d. 15 June 1398), the daughter of John de Vere, 7th Earl of Oxford by his wife Maud de Badlesmere. Henry and Margaret had one son, John de Beaumont, 4th Baron Beaumont KG (1361-1396).
On February 5, 1345 at Ditton Church, Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire, she married Richard FitzAlan, 3rd Earl of Arundel.
His previous marriage, to Isabel le Despenser, had taken place when they were children. It was annulled by Papal mandate as she, since her father’s attainder and execution, had ceased to be of any importance to him. Pope Clement VI obligingly annulled the marriage, bastardized the issue, and provided a dispensation for his second marriage to the woman with whom he had been living in adultery (the dispensation, dated March 4, 1345, was required because his first and second wives were first cousins).
The children of Eleanor’s second marriage were:
1.) Richard (1346–1397), who succeeded as Earl of Arundel
2.) John Fitzalan (bef 1349 – 1379)
3.) Thomas Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury (c. 1353 – 19 February 1413)
4.) Lady Joan FitzAlan (1347/1348 – 7 April 1419), married Humphrey de Bohun, 7th Earl of Hereford
5.) Lady Alice FitzAlan (1350 – 17 March 1416), married Thomas Holland, 2nd Earl of Kent (Thomas Holand)
Lady Mary FitzAlan (died 29 August 1396), married John Le Strange, 4th Lord Strange of Blackmere, by whom she had issue
6.) Lady Eleanor FitzAlan (1348 – d 29 Aug 1396) married Sir Anthony Browne.
Eleanor died at Arundel and was buried at Lewes Priory in Lewes, Sussex, England. Her husband survived her by four years, and was buried beside her; in his will Richard requests to be buried “near to the tomb of Eleanor de Lancaster, my wife; and I desire that my tomb be no higher than hers, that no men at arms, horses, hearse, or other pomp, be used at my funeral, but only five torches…as was about the corpse of my wife, be allowed.”
The memorial effigies attributed to Eleanor and her husband Richard Fitzalan, 10th Earl of Arundel in Chichester Cathedral are the subject of the celebrated Philip Larkin poem “An Arundel Tomb.”