Mistress of the Monarchy: The Life of Katherine Swynford, Duchess of Lancaster by Alison Weir
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I so wanted to give this book 5 stars - I loved Mary, Queen of Scots and Eleanor of Aquitaine but, well, the dearth of contemporary evidence about Katherine's life leads to too many uses of "perhaps" and "we can assume" (among other phrases) for this to rate more than a 3. YMMV, of course.
It was fascinating to learn about life during the 1300s, and the vibrancy with which Ms. Weir describes the daily doings, royal and otherwise, is why she's one of my favorite historical writers. Why I'd never heard of Katherine de Roet Swynford, mistress and later wife of John of Gaunt is a mystery to me; perhaps I wasn't paying enough attention to those royal family trees. I'd also never heard of Hainault, a principality in what is now Belgium (and it apparently has nothing to do with the area of London). There were times when I felt that non-British readers might be a little at sea reading this, but most of the time it was clear who was doing what and why.
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