Katherine Swynford (also spelled Synford), née (de) Roet (also spelled (de) Rouet, (de) Roët, or (de) Roelt) (probably 25 November 1350 – 10 May 1403), was the daughter of Sir Payne (or Paen/Pain/Paon) (de) Roet (also spelled (de) Rouet, (de) Roët or (de) Roelt), a Flemish herald from Hainault.
Katherine became the third wife of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and their descendants were the Beaufort family, which played a major role in the Wars of the Roses. Henry VII, who became King of England in 1485, derived his claim to the throne from his mother Lady Margaret Beaufort, who was a great-granddaughter of Katherine Swynford.
The children of Paganus Ruet (argued by modern-day genealogist Lindsay Brook and followed by author Weir as "probably christened as Gilles") included Katherine, her sister Philippa, a son, Walter, and the eldest sister, Isabel (also called Elizabeth) de Roet (Canoness of the convent of St. Waudru's, Mons, c. 1366). Katherine is generally held to have been his youngest child. Weir argues, based upon her review of limited fragmentary evidence, that Philippa was the junior and that both were children of a second marriage.
Paon de Ruet is found early, in a legal document, in the form Paganus de Rodio — referring to Rodium, the mediaeval Latin form corresponding to the Roeulx, or Le Rœulx, the name of a town of 3000 inhabitants, 8 miles north-east of Mons,on the highway leading from Mons to Nivelle. Paon de Ruet may have been impelled to seek his fortune in England by the recital of the exploits of Fastre de Ruet, who accompanied John of Beaumont in 1326, when, with three hundred followers, he went to assist the English against the Scots. Fastre was the younger brother of the last lord of Roeulx descended from the Counts of Hainault. He and his brother Eustace fell into pecuniary straits, and were obliged to alienate their landed possessions. Fastre died in 1331, and was buried in the abbey church of Roeulx, while his brother Eustace survived till 1336. Paon was, like Fastre, a younger brother — possibly of a collateral line.
As the king was in the North, a number of the Flemings returned home without proceeding further than London, but Paon de Ruet was one of those who remained in England in the retinue of Philippa of Hainault, accompanying the young queen in her departure from Valenciennes to join her youthful husband Edward III in England at the close of 1327. His name does not appear in the list of knights who accompanied the queen from Hainault, however, described by Froissart to be among additional knights referred to as 'pluissier jone esquier'. Speght (1598) prefixed to his history a genealogical tree which began: 'Paganus de Rouet Hannoniensis, aliter dictus Guien Rex Armorum' describing de Ruet as Guienne King of Arms. Upon the coronation of Henry the Fifth (1413), Sir William Bruges held the same title in the fifth year of the King's reign (Edmondson 1. 104) and the same monarch was accompanied to France before Agincourt by a herald bearing that name (Wylie, Reign of Henry the Fifth 1. 493).
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