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Help and advice for Dukes of Great Britain

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Dukes of Great Britain

John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster,

was the fourth son of Edward III. and his queen Philippa, and was born at Ghent about 1340. He married Blanche, daughter of Henry, Duke of Lancaster, and was created Earl of Derby and Duke of Lancaster. He took part with his brother, the Black Prince, in his Spanish expedition; married soon after Constance of Castile, and assumed the title of King of Castile; invaded France in 1373, and marched unopposed from Calais to Bordeaux; and succeeded his brother as Governor of Gascony. In 1380 he invaded Scotland, and during his absence his palace at London was attacked and burnt by the insurgents under Wat the Tyler. He afterwards made an attack on Castile in alliance with the King of Portugal; but closed the war by marrying his daughter to the son of the King of Castile; and returned to England in 1389. In the following year Richard II. gave him the Duchy of Aquitaine. By his first wife John of Gaunt was father of Henry IV. He married as his third wife Catherine Swynford, and died in 1399. He had distinguished himself as the firm and powerful protector of Wickliffe.

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Henry, Duke of Lancaster,

and Earl of Derby a distinguished English general and diplomatist, and received from Edward III. the title of Earl of Derby in 1338. He rendered important services in the Scottish and French wars, and was intrusted with embassies to the King of Castille and the Pope. He took part in the invasion of France in 1345, and took several towns. He assisted at the siege of Calais, was created Knight of the Garter, and in 1352 received the title of Duke of Lancaster. Five years later he was made captain-general for the king in the duchy of Brittany. The treaty of Bretigny was concluded by Edward III. chiefly by his advice. Died at Leicester, 1362.

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John Maitland, Duke of Lauderdale,

was born at Lethington, in 1616. He was with Charles II. at the battle of Worcester, and was taken prisoner and committed to the Tower. At the Restoration he obtained his liberty, and was appointed secretary of state and high commissioner of Scotland. In 1670 he was one of the members of the famous Cabal ministry. Died, Aug. 24, 1682.

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James, Duke of Monmouth,

a natural son of Charles II. by Lucy Walters, was born at Rotterdam, in 1649. He was distinguished by his personal attractions, his affable address, and thoughtless generosity; but he was weak-minded, and resigned himself to the guidance of the restless and ambitious Shaftesbury, who flattered him with the hope of succeeding to the crown. At the age of 14 he was created Duke of Monmouth, and two years later was made master of the horse. In 1673 be served in the French army against the Dutch; was sent in 1678 against the Covenanters, and defeated them at Bothwell Bridge. He was concerned in various plots, which had for their object the exclusion of the Duke of York from the crown; and he was, in consequence, ordered by Charles to quit the kingdom.

On the accession of James II. he left Holland and landed at Lyme, with scarcely a hundred followers (June, 1685); but their numbers soon increased, and he assumed, at Taunton, the title of king, and asserted the legitimacy of his birth. The royal forces were sent against him, and an engagement took place at Sedgemoor, near Bridgewater, on the 6th July. The rebels were defeated, and the Duke himself was made prisoner, being found in the disguise of a peasant, lying at the bottom of a ditch, overcome with hunger, fatigue, and anxiety. He nobly refused to betray his accomplices, and conducted himself with much firmness on the scaffold, where his head was severed from his body, after four unsuccessful blows, July 15,1685. The people, of whom he was still the favourite, believed that the person executed was not Monmouth and it was probably this belief which led some to conjecture that the famous 'Iron Mask' was the Duke of Monmouth. His portrait, by Wissing, is in the National Portrait Gallery.

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John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland,

was a son of Sir Edmund Dudley, and born in 1502. He was first created Viscount Lisle, then Earl of Warwick, and after being appointed lord high admiral, reached his dukedom in 1551. He effected a marriage between his son, Lord Guildford Dudley, and Lady Jane Grey, daughter of the Duke of Suffolk. He afterwards prevailed on the young king, Edward, to set aside his sisters, Mary, and Elizabeth, from the succession in favour of Lady Jane, whom he caused to be proclaimed at the king's death. But an insurrection being raised in favour of Mary, she was proclaimed in London, and the Duke was executed as a traitor, in 1553.

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Richard, third Duke of York,

was the only son of Richard, Earl of Cambridge, and Anne, daughter of Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March (1374-1398) ; through whom and her mother Philippa, he traced his descent from Lionel, Duke of Clarence, third son of Edward III. At the death of his father, executed for conspiracy in 1415, he was in-trusted to the guardianship of the Countess of Westmoreland, and ten years later the attainder was set aside, and he succeeded to the title of Duke of York. He took a very important part in public affairs, and was for some time virtually sovereign. Made Constable of England in 1430, Regent of France after the Duke of Bedford's death, he was recalled in 1446, opposed the policy of Queen Margaret and was named, in 1449, Lieutenant of Ireland. He won the esteem and support of the Irish by his good administration, and then asserted his right to the crown. On his return to England he had an interview with the king, Henry VI., and was appointed Protector of the kingdom in 1454. But reconciliation of the two houses was impossible, and in the following year the Wars of the Roses began. After five years of fluctuating fortune the Duke was defeated and killed at the battle of Wakefield, December 31, 1460. His head was placed over the gates of York for a time, and then his remains were interred first at Pomfret, and ultimately at Fotheringay. He was father of Edward IV., Richard III., and George, Duke of Clarence. His daughter Margaret was married to Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy.

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The above information was gleaned from various sources and then put together by Colin Hinson ©1996.

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