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Avatar for Ryner Ryner said:
The life of Katherine Swynford is a fascinating and mysterious one. Born in what is now Belgium, she actually spent much of her childhood in the English court of Edward III. Widowed in her early 20s, she would become the lifelong mistress of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and brother to the king, sparking one of the most renowned and scandalous love stories in European history. Katherine and her children by John (who would ultimately be legitimized by royal edict) are ancestors of the Yorkist kings, the Tudors, the Stuarts, and every other British sovereign since, as well as nearly every monarch in Europe and no fewer than six U.S. presidents.

Nearly everything that has been discovered about Katherine Swynford must be indirectly inferred and deduced from the records of others, as virtually nothing from her personal effects survives today. As a reader, I was alternately amazed by the great deal we can still learn about someone who lived more than 600 years ago, and dismayed by how much has been lost and that we will never know. It’s unfortunate that Katherine, due to the era in which she lived, gets a bad rap merely for falling deeply in love and acting on it, something we might all do in a similar situation. Like me, it seems that many readers come to this book having previously read Katherine, the popular 1950s work of historical fiction by Anya Seton. Weir references Katherine in her book, but gently reminds us that, although popular and well-researched, it was nevertheless a work of fiction. Mistress of the Monarchy is a compelling read, particulary as a companion to Katherine.
posted Jan 10, 2014 at 12:25PM
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