Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Katherine Swynford: The History of a Medieval Mistress” as Want to Read:
Katherine Swynford: The History of a Medieval Mistress
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Katherine Swynford: The History of a Medieval Mistress

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  255 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
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 t ...more
ebook, 373 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by History Press (SC) (first published August 1st 2006)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Katherine Swynford, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Katherine Swynford

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Karen
Wife to the son of a king, mother of numerous important people and the ancestress of many of the royal houses of Europe, Katherine Swynford is someone whose importance to history is not reflected in the documents and written record of the time she lived. No letters written by her survive and not even her testament has come down to us. Her grave seems to have been a relatively modest affair, even before it was partially destoyed in the seventeenth century.

I think Jeannette Lucraft is right to em
...more
Joy
Nov 27, 2010 Joy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lucraft's study of Katherine Swynford was an award-winning academic paper which ended up published. The author's purpose was to find the personality of Katherine in the barren contemporary sources. For me her approaches worked. Her reasoning is laid open in chapters that consider church chroniclers, social conventions, religious preferences, and what she calls "medieval spin" -- image presentation. I am left with the feeling of having read balanced good sense.
Katerina
This is a nonfiction book about Katherine, the long time mistress and later wife of John of Gaunt. However it is not a biography that gives timely description of Katherine’s life; it’s more like a dissertation. That doesn’t mean it’s bad or not interesting – quite the contrary. The author analyzes historical references to Katherine in the contemporary and later sources and I find her conclusions and assertions there overall well founded. The Katherine/St Katherine line and the Camilla parallels ...more
Nicholas Whyte
http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/2149871.html[return][return]A fairly short book, with a bit of a sense of PhD thesis pushed into book form, looking at the life and historical treatment of Katherine Swynford, John of Gaunt's lover and later his wife in the late 14th century. The core facts are interesting enough - her father appears to have been a Flemish mercenary, but she moved comfortably in royal circles and her sister married Geoffrey Chaucer, and her love affair with Gaunt was publicly acknow ...more
Finuala
I think this deserves 3.5 (sometimes a girl needs a half) but since that's not possible, 3 it is.

I found this a very enjoyable and thought provoking look at a woman who could easily have been lost to history. Not one word of hers is known to have survived: no will and testament; no diary; no letter. Frustratingly, therefore, we must look at her reflection in those around her and this is the task Lucraft sets herself. In this, I believe she has been largely successful. Clearly, in order to become
...more
Jen
I wavered back and forth on this rating. Probably the fairest would be a 3.5 or about there, but let's round up because we're feeling generous.

The pros: This is a well researched book on not only Katherine, but also the world she lived in and the pressures she faced. Honestly, we just can't know a lot about her. Women were not written about a lot. If it wasn't for Anya Seton's bio on KS, we would probably ignore her as well--but a best seller will do that for a girl. Who doesn't love the tale of
...more
Rebecca
An excellent take on an intriguing woman. It's a bit odd, at first glance, with a book about a person where her (or his, but in this case her) life is dealt with on the first 16 pages of a biography about someone. In this case it isn't really odd - because there is precious little hard historical records about this woman, and what is known is here presented as a background for this study. In short, it is not a biography in the conventional sense, where the book starts with the birth and ends wit ...more
Meghan Monahan
May 12, 2015 Meghan Monahan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This history about Katherine Swynford is just what has been missing from the lexicon of medieval England. Lucraft's well-researched biography sheds light on one of England's most forgotten matriarchs. Katherine's story is compelling and Lucraft uses her rich storytelling skills to share it.
Elisa Santiesteban
Qué difícil tarea la de retratar a un personaje del que sólo hay fuentes indirectas. Aún despojada del encanto con la que la imaginación de Seton la envuelve en su clásica biografía, el estricto trabajo de investigación que aquí presenta la autora, nos deja ver la misma Katherine Swynford: valiente, inteligente, altamente instruida, prudente, carismática y bella, todos estos atributos en superlativo. No podía ser de otra manera una niña de indiferente cuna que lograría superar el estigma de un a ...more
Joanna Arman
May 15, 2017 Joanna Arman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rare but eminently worthwhile book. The style and extensive examination of primary sources might not appeal to the general reader, but for its worth persevering. Reveals a lot about this remarkable woman and her family, and also cuts through some of the nonsense currently circulating about John of Gaunt.
Neeuqdrazil
This read like someone's history thesis.

It's not a bad read overall - the history, from what I know of the period, makes sense, and the dive into the historiography, and how to DO history about someone who has left no direct sources, was interesting.

There were a couple of places where it desperately needed an editor - one where the same sentence was repeated within a page of itself, and another where an entire paragraph was repeated about 100 pages on from where it was originally.

I don't know
...more
Margaret
Realizing that there are not enough details for a full biography of Katherine Swynford, mistress and then wife of John of Gaunt in the fourteenth century, Lucraft instead investigates Katherine's history: not just the details of her life, but her place in her times. She looks at the depiction of Katherine by sources from her own time to the present, separating fact from conjecture, and discusses how Katherine may have chosen to present herself and her own image, notably through her association w ...more
Éowyn
Jun 15, 2011 Éowyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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.
Elisabeth
Not a bad book, just not very informative. I am not sure any non-fiction bio of Katherine Swynford can tell us very much, as she didn't leave a great deal of information behind her. We can imagine so much more, and to me historical fiction novels on this subject are so much more satisfying.
Anya
Anya rated it it was amazing
Mar 12, 2016
Deborah Thomas
Deborah Thomas rated it really liked it
Apr 14, 2011
Paula
Paula rated it really liked it
Jan 13, 2008
Joanne Hall
Joanne Hall rated it really liked it
Feb 01, 2014
Deb
Deb rated it it was amazing
May 17, 2016
Sue
Sue rated it liked it
Jun 30, 2016
Julie Friedman
Julie Friedman rated it it was amazing
Jul 13, 2013
Mary Prescott
Mary Prescott rated it liked it
Nov 17, 2016
Suzanne Cockyne
Suzanne Cockyne rated it liked it
Feb 21, 2015
Sydney Guenther
Sydney Guenther rated it liked it
Apr 04, 2013
Rebecca Manduchi
Rebecca Manduchi rated it it was amazing
Dec 29, 2015
Virginia L Stuhr
Virginia L Stuhr rated it did not like it
May 05, 2016
Nancy Pierson
Nancy Pierson rated it really liked it
Dec 04, 2015
Sandrine Bibolet
Sandrine Bibolet rated it really liked it
Oct 24, 2013
tina rickward
tina rickward rated it really liked it
Jan 06, 2017
Fritz Worley
Fritz Worley rated it really liked it
Oct 26, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Elizabeth Wydeville: The Slandered Queen
  • The Greatest Traitor: The Life of Sir Roger Mortimer, Ruler of England 1327-1330
  • Margaret Beaufort: Mother of the Tudor Dynasty
  • Queen Emma: A History of Power, Love, and Greed in 11th-Century England
  • Queens Consort: England's Medieval Queens
  • Henry II
  • A Great and Terrible King: Edward I and the Forging of Britain
  • Medieval Women: A Social History of Women in England 450-1500
  • A Royal Passion: The Turbulent Marriage of King Charles I of England and Henrietta Maria of France
  • Isabella and the Strange Death of Edward II
  • The Wars of the Roses: Through the Lives of Five Men and Women of the Fifteenth Century
  • Richard the Third
  • The Kingmaker's Sisters: Six Powerful Women in the Wars of the Roses
  • In Triumph's Wake: Royal Mothers, Tragic Daughters, and the Price They Paid for Glory
  • Royal Blood: Richard III and the Mystery of the Princes
  • Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Four Kings (Harvard Paperbacks)
  • Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Biography
  • The Uncrowned Kings of England: The Black History of the Dudleys and the Tudor Throne
Jeannette Lucraft is a graduate of the University of Huddersfield, where she was awarded a first class history degree. She lives in West Yorkshire.
More about Jeannette Lucraft...

Share This Book