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Katherine Swynford: The History of a Medieval Mistress [Paperback]

Jeannette Lucraft
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

16 April 2010
Katherine Swynford -- sexual temptress or powerful woman at the centre of the medieval court? This book unravels the many myths and legacies of this fascinating woman, to show her in a whole new life. Katherine was sister-in-law to Geoffrey Chaucer and governess to the daughters of Blanche of Lancaster and John of Gaunt. She also became John of Gaunt's mistress -- a role that she maintained for 20 years -- and had four illegitimate children by him, from one of whom Henry Tudor was descended. In a move surprising in the fourteeth century, John of Gaunt eventually married her, making her Duchess of Lancaster and stepmother to the future king, Henry Bolingbroke. But who was this extremely well-connected woman? In this fascinating book, Jeannette Lucraft treats Katherine as a missing person and reconstructs her and her times to uncover the mystery of the 'other woman' in John of Gaunt's life.

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Katherine Swynford: The History of a Medieval Mistress + Katherine Swynford: The Story of John of Gaunt and His Scandalous Duchess + Eleanor Of Aquitaine: By the Wrath of God, Queen of England
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Product details

  • Paperback: 252 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press (16 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752455974
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752455976
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 25 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 221,595 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jeannette Lucraft was born in West Yorkshire, the youngest of three children. She studied history at the University of Huddersfield, achieving first class honours. Her dissertation won the RHS/History Today prize for Best Undergraduate Dissertation in the UK, leading to publication in History Today and a subsequent publishing contract. She works as a primary school teacher, and lives in South Yorkshire. She would very much like to continue writing, but is currently unable to do so.

Product Description

About the Author

JEANNETTE LUCRAFT graduated from the University of Huddersfield, where she was awarded a first-class history degree. Her dissertation on Katherine Swynford won her the History Today - Royal Historical Society prize for the outstanding dissertation of 2001. She lives in South Yorkshire.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyment depends on motivation!! 17 Dec 2007
By The Librarian VINE VOICE
This is a truly excellent book, which I read because I stumbled across it in a library catalogue whilst looking up the new bestseller by Alison Weir! It seems very strange that almost no-one outside history experts would ever have heard of Katherine if it weren't for Anya Seton's immortal novel, (written in the 1950's, which I must have read hundreds of times!)and now we have two scholarly books about her within 2 years!

Jeannette Lucraft's book is HIGHLY scholarly, there being probably more footnotes and bibliography than actual book, and it can be hard going at times, hence my headline comment! The big problem that all authors and researchers have with Katherine is that there is almost nothing documented about her, which seems odd, considering she is the ancestress of all our royal houses, beginning from her place among the Plantagenets through the Tudors and Stuarts to our own beloved Windsors. Also, such contemporary accounts as exist are highly prejudiced. Monkish chroniclers, who were just about the only people who wrote down history as it happened, violently dispapproved of her, and so are not exactly trustworthy. The political situation of the time was also somewhat volatile, and in the absence of a literate population with access to information, very little in the way of hard fact came anybody's way.

Rather in the way that astronomers find Black Holes by their effect on their surrounding space, so I think we should judge Katherine by what we DON'T hear rather then what we DO! To have so little written info suggests that she was highly discreet and dignified in her position of mistress, causing no scandal or attracting any accusations of venality.
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63 of 67 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From Royal Mistress to Royal Wife 4 Sep 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Katherine Swynford was one of the few women who made from a royal mistress to a royal wife. She had been for more than 20 years the mistress of Prince John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster and titular King of Castile, before they were married and she became for a short period England's first lady. Does that sound familiar? CBP and the PoW do spring to mind, don't they? But this is 14th century England...

Like her modern version Katherine's reputation was not all too good and it was regarded as scandalous that a low born married an all powerful royal duke. And this reputation dominates place in history. However, the reality of it all was quite different. Katherine was a well educated woman of her time, who managed her own destiny and estates, managed to hold the love and esteem of the royal duke, her children by him, the Beauforts, were not only legitimated but became well respected and highly intelligent members of England's ruling class and their off-springs became England's monarchs. On top she was held in high esteem by King Richard II and her step-son king Henry IV. This alone, is already quite an achievement.

Jeanette Lucraft's excellent book is a scholarly study of this extraordinary woman. As there are limited sources available she put things into perspective, analyses the sources and the "agenda" of the writers. All this helps to understands better life and times of Katherine Swynford. I enjoyed this book as it brought back to life this out-standing woman of medival England.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Mysterious Mistress Swynford 16 Jun 2011
Not a bad book, but there's just so little really known about Katherine Swynford there's hardly enough to make a biography out of! I finished this feeling I had learned more about Margery Kempe than I had about Katherine Swynford. There were also several times when I found text repeated almost verbaitm from one section to another.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Katherine revealed 24 Sep 2007
By lizh
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I eagerly awaited this book as I have wanted to find out more about Katherine ever since I read "that" book by Anya Seton. Ms Lucraft makes a good job of painting a picture of the lady with very little to go on except general information about women of the times. Although Katherine still comes across as a shadowy figure (we don't even know what she really looked like)I feel I know her a little better than I did. Congratulations on a very enjoyable book.
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