• Richest of the Rich position: 7
  • Birth/Death: 1340-1399
  • Origin of wealth: Land
  • Wealth: £150,000
  • Net National Income: £3m
  • Net National Income Percent: 5%
  • In Today’s Money: £55.498 billion

The greatest noble in late medieval England, John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster, was the third son of Edward III. He married well and his wife, Blanche, bought with her a huge Lancaster inheritance. John was created Duke of Lancaster in 1362, at the age of 22. After Blanche’s death, he married the daughter of the King of Castile in Spain.

Though not renowned as a military leader, John of Gaunt campaigned on the Continent for the king. He proved to be an effective diplomat and, in an increasingly troubled England in the late fourteenth century, a force for stability.

His wealth – put at around £150,000 – represented about 5% of national income (some £55.4bn in today’s money). It also enabled him to keep about 200 retainers who dominated local commissions and local government, where they, too, were a force for peace and stability. Surprisingly for such a turbulent period, he died peacefully in 1399.

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