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Mistress of the Monarchy: The Life of…

Mistress of the Monarchy: The Life of Katherine Swynford, Duchess of… (2008)

by Alison Weir

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6763114,150 (3.63)20
  1. 40
    Katherine by Anya Seton (avalon_today)
  2. 00
    The Three Edwards by Thomas B. Costain (ccrown)
    ccrown: history of the Plantagenets
  3. 00
    The Conquering Family by Thomas B. Costain (ccrown)
    ccrown: history of the Plantagenets (trilogy)

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Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
An excellent read.
A descriptive, detailed biography of the ancestor to the house of Tudor,
York and Stuart.
The enduring love story of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford.
(Duke and Duchess of Lancaster) ( )
  pennsylady | Jan 25, 2016 |
This was a wonderful and rare nonfiction love story from the medieval times. As always, Alison Weir does a fabulous job presenting thorough research in an interesting, narrative-like manner. ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
This was a wonderful and rare nonfiction love story from the medieval times. As always, Alison Weir does a fabulous job presenting thorough research in an interesting, narrative-like manner. ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
lots of research but book left me bored

Read 2014 ( )
  Amante | Oct 19, 2014 |
Having been absorbed by two of Alison Weir's works of fiction I commenced reading this non-fiction biography of Katherine Swynford with high hopes. Unfortunately, I found this a tedious experience. At times it was engaging but on the whole it read more like an English research essay.

To be fair to the author, she had little to work with, as hardly any conclusive evidence of Katherine Swynford's life has been preserved. This is a great pity, for she is ancestor to many members of European monarchy throughout the ages, including England's Elizabeth II, plus six American presidents.

Because of the lack of info available, it's virtually impossible to write a bio on Katherine. This book would have been better titled as, "Katherine Swynford and Her Circle", or "The Elusive Katherine Swynford and Her Times", or even "John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford". There's much more historic info available on John of Gaunt, him being Edward III's brother, and as a result the majority of this tome is about him.

Lengthy sections of this volume don't feature Katherine at all, other than tagging a sentence at the end of numerous paragraphs, stating something like, "Could Katherine have been present on this occasion?"

I also felt the in-depth descriptions of buildings where Katherine had lived or visited should have been summarised, or failing that include them in an appendix. I found myself skipping over these sections.

Being a huge admirer of Ms Weir's works of fiction, I feel she would've done better to write a fictional account of Katherine's life and added an author's note at the end, explaining the lack of info available to her. That said, the author does include details of Anya Seton's 1954 novel of Katherine, thus I suspect - owing to the success of that book - Ms Weir would not want to compete with it.

Although I am disappointed with this historic account, owing to its essay-feel and lack of info on its main subject, I maintain my respect for Alison Weir's authorship and will read more of her works. ( )
  PhilSyphe | May 22, 2014 |
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Bruce and Sandy,
Peter and Karen,
John and Joanna
To Mark Their Marriages.
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I have used the form "Katherine" (rather than "Catherine") throughout, as Katherine's name is usually spelled with a K in contemporary sources.
This is a love story, one of the greatest and most remarkable love stories of medieval England. It is the extraordinary tale of an exceptional woman, Katherine Swynford, who became first the mistress and later the wife of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, one of the outstanding princes of the high Middle Ages.
Spring 1378
In March 1378, putting aside "all shame of man and fear of God," John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, the mightiest subject in the realm of England, was to be seen riding around his estates in Leicestershire "with his unspeakable concubine, a certain Katherine Swynford." Not only was the Duke brazenly parading his beautiful mistress for everyone to see, but he was "holding her bridle in public," a gesture that proclaimed to all his possession of her, for it implied that the rider thus led was a captive, in this case one who had surrendered her body, if not her heart. And as if this were not shocking enough, the fact that the Duke was flaunting his mistress "in the presence of his own wife" created a scandal that would soon spread throughout the length and breadth of the kingdom and beyond. Even today, echoes of that furor still reverberate in the pages of history books.
Panetto's Daughter
Katherine Swynford, that "famous adulteress,"¹ was set on the path to notoriety, fame, and a great love at the tender age of two or therabouts, when she was placed in the household of Philippa of Hainault, wife to Edward III of England. This would have been around 1352, and Katherine's dispositon with the popular and maternal Philippa was almost certainly due to her father, Sir Paon de Roët, having tendered years of faithful service to the Queen and the royal family of Hainault.
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Historian Alison Weir brings to life the tale of Katherine Swynford, a royal mistress who became a crucial figure in the British royal dynasties. Born in the mid-14th century, Katherine experienced the Hundred Years' War, the Black Death, and the Peasants' Revolt, and crossed paths with many eminent figures, among them her brother-in-law, Geoffrey Chaucer. At age ten, she was appointed to the household of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and fourth son of King Edward III; at twelve, she married Hugh Swynford, an impoverished knight. Widowed at 21, Katherine, gifted with beauty and charms, later became John of Gaunt's mistress. Throughout their illicit union, John and Katherine were devoted to each other. In middle age, after many twists of fortune, they wed, and her children by John, the Beauforts, would become direct forebears of the Royal Houses of York, Tudor, and Stuart, and of every British sovereign since 1461 (as well as four U.S. presidents).--From publisher description.… (more)

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