Birthday: March 31, 1359
Died At Age: 56
Sun Sign: Aries
Born in: Leicester Castle
Empresses & Queens
Spouse/Ex-: John I of Portugal
father: John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster
mother: Blanche of Lancaster
siblings: Duchess of Exeter, Elizabeth of Lancaster, Henry IV of England
children: 1400–1600, Constable of Portugal, Duchess of Burgundy, Duke of Coimbra, Edward, Ferdinand the Holy Prince, Henry the Navigator, Iberian nautical sciences, Infanta Blanche, Infanta Blanche II, Infante Afonso, Isabella of Portugal, John, King of Portugal, Peter
Died on: July 19, 1415
place of death: Sacavém
Who was Philippa of Lancaster?
Philippa of Lancaster was the Queen of Portugal in late 14th and early 15th century. Born into the royal family of England and married to King John I, she was the first and only English Queen of Portugal. Her marriage with King John I secured the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance and she proved herself to be an extraordinary queen. After her marriage, she adopted the king's two illegitimate children and reared them with her own. She bore the king nine children and transformed him into a devoted husband and father with her care and affection. She was described as a subtle and sincere woman, with a profound sense of duty who supervised the education of all her children. In addition to her domestic duties, she played a crucial role in improving internal relations in her kingdom, between the Portugal's middle class and the aristocracy. Because of her close relationship with the English throne, she was also able to improve the diplomatic and commercial bonds between the two kingdoms. A devoted wife, a loving mother and a worthy queen, she is remembered as the mother of ‘The Illustrious Generation’ and her children went on to make historically significant contributions in their own right.
Childhood & Early Life
Philippa was born on 31 March, 1359, to John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster and his wife, Blanche of Lancaster. She spent her infancy moving around the various properties owned by her family.
She had younger siblings: Elizabeth and Henry. Henry went on to become the King of England and was known as King Henry IV.
Her mother died of plague in 1369. In 1371 her father remarried Infanta Constance of Castile, daughter of King Peter of Castile. Upon Constance's death in 1394, he married his former mistress, Katherine Swynford.
Katherine had close ties with Geoffrey Chaucer who spent much time with the family as one of Philippa’s teachers. Philippa studied science, poetry, philosophy and theology, and was also well read in the works of Greek and Roman scholars such as, Pliny and Herodotus.
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In 1387, Philippa married King John I of Portugal and became the first English woman to be crowned as the Queen consort of Portugal. This marriage served as a major agreement in procuring the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance against the France-Castile axis.
On February 2, 1387, the royal couple was blessed by the church in the Cathedral of Porto. Twelve days later, the wedding ceremony took place on February 14, 1387, a union which the Portuguese court celebrated for fifteen days.
By marrying Philippa, John I established a political and personal alliance with her father, the John of Gaunt, who in 1386 had signed the Portuguese-British Alliance, which continued through the Napoleonic Wars and ensured Portugal's tenuous neutrality in World War II.
King John I already had a mistress, Inês Peres Esteves, with whom who he had three children: Afonso, Beatrice and Branca. Philippa commanded her to leave the court and moved her to a convent where Esteves became a Prioress. However, she allowed Afonso and Beatrice to be raised in the Portuguese court.
Philippa had nine children with King John I, of who three died in infancy. Her eldest surviving child was Edward, born in 1391, who grew up to become a writer and succeeded his father as King of Portugal in 1433.
Her second surviving son, Peter, was born in 1392, who later became the Duke of Coimbra. In 1394, Henry was born, who famously became known as "the Navigator", the first Duke of Viseu, who guided Portugal to the Age of Discovery.
Philippa’s first surviving daughter, Isabella, was born in 1397 and later married Philip III of Burgundy. Her last two sons with the king, John and Ferdinand, were born in 1400 and 1402, respectively.
Philippa wielded enormous influence in both the Portuguese and English courts and was actively involved in political affairs. She often wrote to the English court from Portugal and stayed involved in English politics. She was also able to improve the diplomatic and commercial bonds between the two kingdoms.
Her political contribution to her own court was immense. Because of the Portuguese involvement in several wars, the Portuguese economy was deteriorating. Therefore, she arranged to send an expedition for the conquest and control of Ceuta which proved to be quite lucrative for Portugal as it gained the control of the African and Indian spice trade.
Personal Life & Legacy
At the age of 53, she contracted plague and was moved from Lisbon to Sacavém. She called her sons to her bedside so that she could give them her blessing.
Philippa died peacefully on July 19, 1415, in Sacavém, Portugal, at the age of 55, and was buried in the Batalha Monastery, Leiria, Portugal. She was said to be lucid and without pain during the final hours of her life.