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Mistress of the Monarchy: The Life of Katherine Swynford, Duchess of Lancaster Hardcover – 27 Jan 2009
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'A most remarkable woman in an equally remarkable book'
-- Scotland on Sunday
'Isabella showed off Weir's knack for finding overlooked characters from history and telling their stories brilliantly.'
-- The Bookseller
`Fast-paced, lively and boldly coloured, Weir's book gives us a vivid portrait of courtly life' -- Sunday Times
`For any girl who drooled over Anya Seton's Katherine, here's a grown-up version' -- Tatler
`There is no doubting her historical credentials'.
-- Daily Telegraph
`Weir's sound scholarship and storyteller's gift for rich, telling detail constantly engages and enthrals the reader' -- The Times
`[Weir] combines imagination, good judgement and common sense .... Her smooth narrative belies her skill in weaving together incidental facts and cautious surmise'
-- Independent --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
'meticulous research, discerning judgement ... Weir has produced a wonderful biography' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
Top Customer Reviews
However Katherine Swynford left nothing behind, we have nothing written by her and nothing about what she thought or said. We know so very little about her and it shows. Countless times throughout the book Weir has to use phrases such as 'Katherine might have been here or there', 'She may have done this or that' and 'We can only imagine what she felt' because we simply do not have enough evidence about what she was doing or where she was. It's because of this that Katherine's voice simply does not come through in the book. We do not really get much of an idea of what she was like, or what she felt or thought.
Also I noticed that Weir relies heavily (especially in the first few chapters) on the chronicler Jean Frossairt and yet on page 104, when she disagrees with something he's recorded, she tells us that "his sources can hardly have been reliable. He was, after all, writing long after these events." and yet she is happy to rely on him at other times in the book, I'm assuming because there is no other information available.
So although I've taken issue with a couple of things I did, nevertheless, enjoy reading the book and it's as thorough as it can be with so little evidence.
I have a love-hate relationship with Weir's books: I loved The Six Wives of Henry VIII; liked Mary Queen of Scots: And the Murder of Lord Darnley, and Eleanor of Aquitaine: By the Wrath of God, Queen of England; but detested Isabella: She-Wolf of France, Queen of England and Innocent Traitor (Weir doesn't do fiction all that well). I put Katherine Swynford: The Story of John of Gaunt and his Scandalous Duchess in the "like somewhat" category.
Katherine Swynford was born Katherine de Roet in 1350, one of the daughters of Sir Paon de Roet. She then married Hugh Swynford, and spent time in the Lancastrian household as the governess to John of Gaunt's children. Katherine's affair with him probably began around the year 1372, and, after producing a number of illegitimate children, married John in 1396. Katherine is the ancestor of most of the royal houses of Europe, plus at least five American presidents.Read more ›
One of the few exceptions was Katherine Swynford: she made it from royal mistress to 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 even for a very short period only - England's first lady. What caused scandal today was even more scandalous in the 14th century and this reputation sticked to Katherine. 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.
Alison Weir follows the destiny of Katherine in a brilliant way. She simply has indeed a unique talent to tell a story. Her reputation as one of the foremost popular historians is well justified. As there are limited sources available she put things into perspective, analyses the sources and the "agenda" of the writers. She re-creates the life of Katherine in an understandable way and is academically correct without being scholarly. All this helps to understands better life and times of Katherine Swynford.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An excellent and well written book. I bought a second hand copy and it was in beautiful condition. Very happy with my purchase.Published 2 days ago by Author
Not the most in depth investigation, I prefer Phillipa Gregory, this reads more like a historical fictional accountPublished 1 month ago by nik
This explains perfectly the medieval background - in great researched detail - to the following Tudor dynasty. A Riveting Read.Published 4 months ago by carol freeman
Lots of info on a fascinating figure from history not generally known. B ook like new.Published 7 months ago by oakleigh
I was really looking forward to reading this book, but was, alas, very disappointed. The Sunday Times promised it would be 'fast-paced, lively and boldly coloured', but nothing... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Cloud Serene-River
One of my favourite sayings is: 'truth is stranger than fiction.' Although Anya Seton composed a very readable, wonderful tale out of the life and times of Katherine Swynford... Read morePublished 9 months ago by H. A. Weedon