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From Royal Mistress to Royal Wife
on 4 September 2006
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.