Katherine Swynford: The History of a Medieval Mistress
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Katherine Swynford: The History of a Medieval Mistress

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  118 ratings  ·  7 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
Published 2010 by Stroud: History (first published August 22nd 2006)
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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.
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
Rebecca Bugge
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
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
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
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.
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.
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Jeannette Lucraft is a graduate of the University of Huddersfield, where she was awarded a first class history degree. She lives in West Yorkshire.
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