Three Views of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster
Published Online ~ Course: British Studies (ID 382), Harlaxton College, Spring (2011)
John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, was a rich, powerful, and influential nobleman in the 14th century. As the son, uncle, and father of kings, Gaunt was never far from central authority. For some time, late in Edward III’s reign and in Richard II’s youth, Gaunt was the de facto source of royal power. Gaunt’s position as perhaps the most important nobleman in the late 14th century led to his public image being recorded and preserved in a variety of forms. By viewing John of Gaunt from the perspectives of his contemporary critic Thomas Walsingham, his eventual brother‐in‐law Geoffrey Chaucer, and later playwright William Shakespeare, a well‐ rounded view of Gaunt’s influence on and reflection of the policies and attitudes of his time, and the generations that followed can be seen.