Mary de Bohun

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Mary de Bohun
Countess of Northampton
Countess of Derby (by courtesy)
Psalter of Mary de Bohun and Henry Bolingbroke 1380-85 Abigail.jpg
Psalter celebrating Mary's marriage
Born c. 1368
Died 4 June 1394(1394-06-04) (aged 25–26)
Peterborough Castle, Northamptonshire
Burial The Collegiate Church of the Annunciation of Our Lady of The Newarke, Leicester
Spouse Henry IV, King of England
Issue Henry V, King of England
Thomas of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Clarence
John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford
Humphrey, 1st Duke of Gloucester
Blanche, Electress Palatine
Philippa, Queen of Denmark, Norway and Sweden
Father Humphrey de Bohun, 7th Earl of Hereford
Mother Joan Fitzalan

Mary de Bohun (c. 1368 – 4 June 1394) was the first wife of King Henry IV of England and the mother of King Henry V. Mary was never queen, as she died before her husband came to the throne.

Early life

Mary was the daughter of Humphrey de Bohun, 7th Earl of Hereford, and Joan FitzAlan (1347/48–1419),[1] the daughter of Richard FitzAlan, 10th Earl of Arundel, and Eleanor of Lancaster. Through her mother, Mary was descended from Llywelyn the Great.

Mary and her elder sister, Eleanor de Bohun, were the heiresses of their father's substantial possessions. Eleanor became the wife of Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester, the youngest child of Edward III. In an effort to keep the inheritance for himself and his wife, Thomas of Woodstock pressured the child Mary into becoming a nun.[2] In a plot with John of Gaunt, Mary's aunt took her from Thomas' castle at Pleshey back to Arundel whereupon she was married to Henry Bolingbroke, the future Henry IV.[2]

John of Gaunt had planned for the marriage between Mary and Henry to remain unconsummated until Mary was sixteen[citation needed] but the couple disobeyed. Consequently, Mary became pregnant at fourteen; the firstborn child lived only a few days.[3]

Marriage and children

Mary married Henry—then known as Bolingbroke—on 27 July 1380, at Arundel Castle. At the time of her marriage, Mary was perhaps little more than twelve years old.

It was at Monmouth Castle, one of her husband's possessions, that Mary gave birth to her next two children, both boys. Henry, the eldest surviving son, was later to become Prince of Wales when his father seized the throne from Richard II in 1399. On the death of his father in 1413, he became King of England as Henry V.

Her children were:


Mary de Bohun died at Peterborough Castle, giving birth to her last child, a daughter, Philippa of England. She was buried in the collegiate Church of the Annunciation of Our Lady of the Newarke, Leicester.[5]



  1. ^ Women of the English Nobility and Gentry, 1066-1500, transl. & ed. Jennifer C. Ward, (Manchester University Press, 1995), 21.
  2. ^ a b Anthony Goodman, John of Gaunt: The Exercise of Princely Power in Fourteenth-Century Europe, (Routledge, 2013), 276.
  3. ^ Jennifer Ward, Women in England in the Middle Ages, (Hambledon Continuum, 2006), 49.
  4. ^ Alison Weir, Britain's Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy (London, U.K.: The Bodley Head, 1999), page 123
  5. ^ Charles J. Billson, Mediaeval Leicester, (Leicester, 1920)

External links

  • article on Mary de Bohun
  • article on Henry Bolingbroke - contains information on Mary de Bohun
  • Document on Women and Spirituality from the University of the West of England - contains information on Mary de Bohun's spiritual life
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