The Commandery of John of Gaunt covers much of the North West of England, including Lancashire, Cheshire and Greater Manchester.
John of Gaunt was the fourth son of Edward III, born in Ghent 1340. In 1349 he married Blanche, the younger of the two daughters and co-heirs of Henry, Duke of Lancaster, and upon the death of his father-in-law in 1361 he inherited the title Duke of Lancaster.
Following the death of the Black Prince in 1376, and his own father's infirmity, John effectively governed England. It is perhaps worth noting that John was involved in the introduction of Poll Taxes, which were just as unpopular then as in more recent years! It is also perhaps opportune to mention Wat Tyler and the Peasant's Revolt of 1381. The then Grand Prior of the Order of St. John in England, Robert Hales, having taken the very unpopular post of Kings Treasurer, was murdered, and the Priory of St John at Clerkenwell was burnt to the ground when the rebels marched on London, protesting at the introduction of the Poll Tax.
John remained an influential figure during the reign of Richard II, and tried to promote peace between Richard and the nobility. He died on the 3rd February 1399 at the Bishop of Ely's Palace in Holborn, and was interred before the high altar of Old St. Paul's Cathedral near to the remains of his first wife. Later in the same year, John's eldest son Henry Bolingbroke overthrew Richard II and became Henry IV, the first king of the House of Lancaster. Henry himself died of leprosy in 1413, making this connection even more apposite.
It was appropriate, with this history, that when the Commandery was founded, it took the name of John of Gaunt.
Please click here to go to the John of Gaunt blog where regular updates of events, many with photographs, will appear.