Mistress of the Monarchy
Alison Weir
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Buy *Mistress of the Monarchy: The Life of Katherine Swynford, Duchess of Lancaster* by Alison Weir online

Mistress of the Monarchy: The Life of Katherine Swynford, Duchess of Lancaster
Alison Weir
432 pages
January 2010
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Click here to read reviewer Swapna Krishna's take on Mistress of the Monarchy.

Katherine Swynford, Duchess of Lancaster, was born in the mid-fourteenth century and raised among royalty and privilege, though she herself was not of that class. Her role models were from the house of King Edward III, including but not limited to his wife, the Queen. With age, Katherine was moved to the house of John of Gaunt where her gifts with children took hold.

It was only years after her first unfortunate marriage to an impoverished knight by the name of Hugh Swynford that Katherine began to make her mark in history and her name renowned in the continuation of the British Royal dynasties. Only a short time into her widowhood did Katherine draw the eye of the handsome John of Gaunt, fourth son of King Edward III and the second richest and most powerful man in all the British territories. Although having a mistress was not an uncommon custom, it was the blatant display of open claiming that John proceeded to flaunt that caused some distress among the populace. Katherine was not his wife and seemed to have a great hold over him, a man of great power and even greater influence.

As time would tell, Katherine strove to be strong, intelligent, and devoted in the face of heartbreak and adversity. Her love for John and his in return was the kind to test the waves of time and endure the many traumatic hardships of war, plague, and revolt that came at them over the many seasons. Their amore was rife with scandal, but their marriage and the legalization of their children to become direct forebears of the royal houses of York, Tudor and Stuart, as well as every British sovereign since 1461, was Katherine's eternal triumph in the face of it all.

Weir is an amazing historian, not only pursuing the history of the subject in question drawing nearly full biographies of all the individuals whose lives were involved with the subject. The outcome of the work is meticulous and brings to light a fairly dynamic perspective on the subject being studied. References are made to a few earlier biographers who attempted to portray the subject differently regarding this or that, and arguments with proofs are made either in support of or in direct opposition to those previous opinions. It's interesting to read the differing perspectives, arguments for or against, and generate a perspective about the subject based on the provided information. For readers who like clear-cut, analytical research-based biography, Alison Weir is a fabulous historian who does her biography subject justice.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. Sonia R. Polinsky, 2009

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