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Mistress of the Monarchy: The Life of…
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Mistress of the Monarchy: The Life of Katherine Swynford, Duchess of… (original 2008; udgave 2009)

af Alison Weir (Forfatter)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
8793518,247 (3.72)22
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.… (mere)
Medlem:fletch68
Titel:Mistress of the Monarchy: The Life of Katherine Swynford, Duchess of Lancaster
Forfattere:Alison Weir (Forfatter)
Info:Ballantine Books (2009), Edition: First Edition, 416 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
Vurdering:
Nøgleord:Ingen

Detaljer om værket

Mistress of the Monarchy: The Life of Katherine Swynford, Duchess of Lancaster af Alison Weir (2008)

  1. 40
    Katherine af Anya Seton (avalon_today)
  2. 00
    The Three Edwards af Thomas B. Costain (ccrown)
    ccrown: history of the Plantagenets
  3. 00
    The Conquering Family af Thomas B. Costain (ccrown)
    ccrown: history of the Plantagenets (trilogy)
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Lots of conjecture with research. Some reliance on Anya Seton’s novel. Good addendum about Seton’s novel. ( )
  Smoscoso | Jun 2, 2021 |
An excellent book about an obscure figure in British history. Alison Weir does a good job in trying to piece together the life of Katherine Swynford, mistress and later wife of John of Gaunt. It must have been a difficult undertaking, because as the author states, there is almost no source material for Katherine. When she died, basically all of her material presence on her died with her. Alison Weir has given us a glimpse into this medieval period of history, telling us what we know about the period and how Katherine's life most likely fit into the world of that time. Highly enjoyable and interesting to learn about an ancestor of most of the royal houses of Europe. ( )
  briandrewz | Apr 27, 2019 |
I am a huge fan of Alison Weir. Her writing style is engaging and friendly, and it is obvious she knows her way around the contemporary historical texts concerning her subjects. However, this biography of Katherine Swynford, née de Roët, Duchess of Lancaster, shows without a doubt Weir's talents as a historical researcher, assiduously checking and cross-checking everything available to her in order to get as close to the truth as possible.

Much about Katherine's life must be construed from a tiny handful of documents, and without a vast knowledge of the customs and mores of the period, a biographer would be totally at sea. Weir's conclusions are carefully outlined and logical, and she takes pains to address (and refute, if necessary) the conclusions come to by other, earlier chroniclers. Katherine sits at the root of a large genealogical tree, and the influence of her relationship with John of Gaunt had ramifications on late 14th century English culture and continues to influence Anglo-American culture, literature, and politics today. But so little is known of her. Her will does not survive (but we know she made one), no letters in her hand survive (but we know she was highly educated and most likely incredibly literate for her day), and there are no contemporary likenesses of her left to us. Her children, those legitimate from her first marriage and those made legitimate after her marriage to their father, the Duke of Lancaster, played enormous roles in shaping 14th, 15th, and 16th century England, with her blood continuing to run in the veins of the present English monarchs. John of Gaunt has been called the "grandfather of Europe," for the descendants of his three wives married in to practically every ruling house in Europe, from Portugal --- England's oldest standing alliance, thank you John of Gaunt --- to Germany. Ever heard of Geoffrey Chaucer? Say thank you to Katherine: he was her brother-in-law, and attained much of his fame through oblique preferment by John and other members of the royal family who held Katherine in high esteem and sought her favor or the Duke's by promoting her relatives.

And yet Katherine was practically expunged from the rolls of history within a generation of her death, and she is almost a total unknown today. We've all heard of Henry VIII, Katherine of Aragon, Elizabeth the First, Mary Queen of Scots, and Isabella of Castile who commissioned Christopher Columbus to sail west from Europe in search of a new route to the Indies; many are familiar with the suspicious death of Richard II, with Henry the Navigator and the Wars of the Roses, or know the significance of the marriage of Henry Tudor and Elizabeth of York. But very, very few can name the man and the woman from whom all of this sprang.

It is about time, and I think the culture is right, for such an excellent biography of Katherine Swynford to be brought forward. She was the daughter of a humble Hainaultier knight, but she rose to be the second lady in the land, second only to the Queen of England, and her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to the nth degrees became towering figures of English history, continuing to shape the modern world. The story of her love affair with the powerful Duke of Lancaster is almost exactly the story of another royal love affair, a modern day one, and like Weir I will gracefully avoid pointing fingers, but as Weir does I shall quote the late Queen Mum: Men of title and privilege simply do not marry their mistresses. Such a marriage as John and Katherine had, one made for love after the end of a marriage made for political and dynastic reasons, especially when the groom was such a powerful, wealthy, influential man and a good catch, and the bride relatively low-born though extremely well-bred --- "Even in our own time such marriage would cause comment" if such a man married such a woman, his long-time mistress, for love. ( )
1 stem mrsmarch | Nov 28, 2018 |
How to write about a woman who left no written word, no quoted phrase, no portrait? Alison Weir tries to do just that and does it mostly by filling in the negative space around Katherine Swynford. While interesting because it deals with a turbulent and complicated time period and arguably one of the most influential families in history, most of what is actually revealed about Katherine herself is limited to what gifts she received and the properties she acquired, and when, and what other historians have thought about this or that despite being wrong because... At times it is fascinating and at times the family trees hidden away in the back of the book are easier to follow and just as informative. I applaud the author for her courage at tackling such a daunting subject, but when it comes down to it, so much is speculation! All of the "she may have been at such and such event, but then again, maybe she was at such and such place instead" gets really old. In the end we really get more of a picture of John of Gaunt than anyone. Can you write a book about someone for whom there is almost no information and yet stick to the facts? After reading this, I'd say the answer is that you can try but you will end up with a book about whoever the majority of the facts are actually about. ( )
  aurelas | Dec 23, 2016 |
We don't know when Katherine Swynford was born, how many siblings she had, what she looked like, what she wrote or spoke like, what her seal looked like, or why she died. In fact, she is a complete cypher to the 21st century. Weir does the best she can to piece together what few documents and sketches of long-gone monuments that are left to give us clues, but there is very little to work with. Katherine was the mistress, and then third wife, of John of Gaunt (son of King Edward III, uncle to King Richard II, and father of King Henry IV). Her illegitimate (although later legitimized) children by John, the Beauforts, were the ancestors of rulers of Scotland, England, and Aragon.

This book helped me understand fourteenth century European politics and the eventual Wars of the Roses, but unfortunately, I still know as little about Katherine as I did at the start. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
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Author's Note
I have used the form "Katherine" (rather than "Catherine") throughout, as Katherine's name is usually spelled with a K in contemporary sources.
Introduction
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.
Prologue
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.
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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.

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