Paon de Roet

Paon de Roet (c. 1310–1380), also called Paon de Roët,[1] Sir Payn Roelt,[2] Payne Roet and sometimes Gilles Roet, was a herald and knight from Hainaut (in present day Belgium) who was involved in the early stages of the Hundred Years War. He became attached to the court of King Edward III of England through the king's marriage to Philippa of Hainaut.

He is most notable for the fact that he became the ancestor of the monarchs of England and of Scotland. The children of his daughter Katherine, mistress and later wife of the king's son John of Gaunt, were given the surname Beaufort and her great-granddaughter Margaret Beaufort gave rise to the Tudor dynasty while her granddaughter Joan Beaufort married into the Stuart dynasty. Another of his daughters, Philippa, also made a notable marriage to the poet Geoffrey Chaucer.


Early life

Born about 1310 in Hainaut, he was "probably christened as Gilles,"[3] in English 'Giles' and in Latin 'Egidius', a name used in each generation of the knightly family who were feudal lords of the town of Le Roeulx.[4] However he became known as Paon or Payne, written in Latin as Paganus.

He may have been inspired to seek his fortune in England by the example of Fastre de Roet, who accompanied John of Beaumont in 1326, when, with three hundred followers, he went to fight for the English against the Scots. Fastre was a younger brother of Eustace VI, last lord of Le Roeulx and a descendant of 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 Le Roeulx, while his brother Eustace survived till 1336. Paon was, like Fastre, a younger brother, if not of Eustace VI then of a collateral line.[4]

In England

Paon de Roet may have come to England as part of the retinue of Philippa of Hainaut, 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 official list of knights who accompanied the queen from Hainaut. However, Froissart says he was one of a number of additional young knights and squires who added to the queen's retinue, referred to as 'pluissier jone esquier', i.e. "plusieurs jeunes escuyers" ('other young squires'); Speght (1598)[5]

Froissart's account of the history of English monarchs includes a genealogical tree, the relevant part of which begins with Paon's name. He is described as "Paganus de Rouet Hannoniensis, aliter dictus Guien Rex Armorum" ("Paon de Rouet of Hainaut, also called Guyenne King of Arms"). The latter part refers to the title of King of Arms granted by Edward III to Roet for the territory of Guyenne (Aquitaine) which was controlled by Edward.

France and Hainaut

In 1347, Roet was sent to the Siege of Calais, and was one of two knights deputed by Queen Philippa to conduct out of town the citizens whom she had saved (the so-called Burghers of Calais).[6]

He had returned to the lands of Hainaut, probably by 1349. He went to serve the queen’s sister, Marguerite, who was the empress of Germany, and his three younger children—Walter, Philippa and Katherine—were left in the care of Queen Philippa.[7] He died in Ghent, County of Flanders in 1380.


Paon had three daughters, Katherine, Philippa and Isabel (also called Elizabeth) de Roet, and a son, Walter. Isabel was to become Canoness of the convent of St. Waudru at Mons in Hainaut, c. 1366. Philippa married the poet Geoffrey Chaucer in 1366. They met while still children when they were attached to the household of Elizabeth de Burgh, 4th Countess of Ulster.[8]

Katherine became governess to the daughters of John of Gaunt. After the death of John's wife Blanche in 1369, Katherine and John began a love affair which would bring forth four children born out of wedlock and would endure as a lifelong relationship. However, John made a dynastic marriage to Constance of Castille, a claimant to the throne of Castile, after which he called himself "King of Castille". When Constance died he married Katherine and legitimised their children.


Paon de Roet's tomb was in Old St Paul's Cathedral, near Sir John Beauchamp's tomb (commonly called "Duke Humphrey's"). In 1631 the antiquary John Weever reported that "upon a faire marble stone, inlaid all over with brasse, (of all which, nothing but the heads of a few brazen nailes are at this day visible) and engraven with the representation and cote-Armes of the party defunct. Thus much of a mangled funerall Inscription was of late time perspicuous to be read".[9]

By 1658, still without its brass plate and effigies, the tomb was again described by William Dugdale. It was destroyed, along with many others (including that of John of Gaunt and Blanche of Lancaster) in 1666 in the Great Fire of London. A modern monument in the crypt lists De Roet amongst the important graves lost.

The inscription (as recorded by Weever, although lost by his day) began:

Hic Jacet Paganus Roet miles Guyenne Rex Armorum Pater Catherine Ducisse Lancastrie ...
(Here lies Paon de Roet, knight, Guyenne King of Arms, father of Katherine Duchess of Lancaster ...)

Alison Weir argues that Katherine herself likely had the tomb made for her father during her lifetime, which would place its construction between 1396 and 1403.[10]


  1. Amin, Nathen (2017). The House of Beaufort: The Bastard Line that Captured the Crown, p. 16. Amberley Publishing, Stroud. ISBN 978-1-4456-8473-4.
  2. Walker, Simon. "Katherine [née Katherine Roelt; married name Katherine Swynford], duchess of Lancaster", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 3 January 2008. Accessed 8 January 2019.
  3. Weir, Alison (2007). Katherine Swynford: The story of John of Gaunt and his Scandalous Duchess. London: Jonathan Cape. ISBN 0-224-06321-9.
  4. Perry, Judy, Fall of the House of Roeulx, retrieved 24 March 2017
  5. Speght, Thomas (1598). The Life of Chaucer.
  6. Froissart, 5.215 : "Et au matin elle fist donner a casqun sys nobles [six nobles, about $150], et les fist conduire hors de l'oost par messire Sanse d'Aubrecicourt et messire Paon de Ruet, si avent que il vorrent, et que il fu avis as deus chevaliers que il estoient hors dou peril, et au departir il les commanderent a Dieu, et retournerent li chevalier en l'oost."
  7. Davis, Craig R. “A Perfect Marriage on the Rocks: Geoffrey and Philippa Chaucer, and The Franklin’s Tale.” Chaucer Review 37.2 (2002). 130.
  8. Braddy, Haldeen. “Chaucer’s Philippa, Daughter of Panneto.” Modern Language Notes 64.5 (1949). 342.
  9. Weever, John (1631). Ancient Funerall Monuments within the United Monarchie of Great Britaine, Ireland, and the Islands Adjacent. London. p. 661. (p. 413 in W. Tooke's edition of 1767).
  10. Mistress of the Monarchy: The Life of Katherine Swynford, Duchess of Lancaster. New York: Ballantine Books, 2009, 13.
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