Growing up in the fascinating household of her father John of Gaunt, did Philippa anticipate she would one day be Felipa of Portugal, mother of the most significant dynasty in her adopted country? This medieval princess was the granddaughter of the Plantagenet King, Edward III. After the death of her mother, Blanche of Lancaster, from the Black Death when Philippa was 9, the infamous Katherine Swynford became her governess. In 1371 John of Gaunt made a political marriage with the Infanta Constance of Castile, but Katherine was his mistress.
|The Savoy Palace|
John of Gaunt was not popular with the people of London and during the Peasants Revolt in 1381 their home, the Savoy Palace, located between the Strand and the river Thames, was destroyed. Kathryn bore him four children, given the surname Beaufort and they were legitimised when John married Katherine, after the death of Constance in 1394.
During his marriage to Constance, John adopted the title, King of Castile. The Anglo-Portuguese alliance arranged with King João in 1386 meant that John was able to land with an army in Spain and mount a campaign for the throne of Castile. Even with the help of Portuguese troops, he was unsuccessful, but a marriage was arranged between King João and Philippa.
|The Marriage of King João and Philippa of Lancaster|
Although King João had previously kept a mistress there is evidence that his marriage to Philippa was a happy one. They had nine children of whom six survived to be called the “illustrious generation”. Their first son was Edward Duarte who became King after his father’s death, their third was the famous Prince Henry the Navigator.
Felipa of Portugal visited many parts of her adopted country and was well loved by the Portuguese people. In 1409 she and her husband visited England where her brother was now King Henry IV. Peace had been made with Castile but Felipa wanted action to be taken against the Moors. João and his sons planned an attack on the fortified city of Ceuta in North Africa but while the ships were being supplied, Felipa contracted the plague. She was taken to the convent of Odivelas in hope of a recovery in the cooler hills. Having ordered three jewelled swords, she asked her husband to promise that he would knight his three sons with them. She died with her daughter Isabel and her husband by her side, at the age of 55.
Although quickly buried at Odivelas, eighteen years later when King João died, her body was moved to lie next to her husband at the chapel of Batalha.