Thursday, January 26, 2012

Review: "Mistress of the Monarchy" by Alison Weir

From Goodreads:  Acclaimed author Alison Weir brings to life the extraordinary tale of Katherine Swynford, a royal mistress who became one of the most crucial figures in the history of Great Britain. Born in the mid-fourteenth century, Katherine de Roët was only twelve when she married Hugh Swynford, an impoverished knight. But her story had truly begun two years earlier, when she was appointed governess to the household of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and fourth son of King Edward III. Widowed at twenty-one, Katherine became John's mistress and then, after many twists of fortune, his bride in a scandalous marriage. Mistress of the Monarchy reveals a woman ahead of her time—making her own choices, flouting convention, and taking control of her own destiny. Indeed, without Katherine Swynford, the course of English history, perhaps even the world, would have been very different.

My Thoughts:  I have read a few books about the Wars of the Roses (fiction and non-fiction) and Katherine Swynford seems to be mentioned in all of them.  When I saw that Alison Weir had written a biography of her, I knew I had to check it out.  England's royals from the Tudor's to the present are related to Katherine Swynford and her lover (and later husband) John of Gaunt.  There is not a lot of documentation about Katherine's life so much is inferred in this book but she really was a fascinating woman.  She was the daughter of foreign knight in the service of Edward III and his consort, Phillipa of Hainault but she became the second lady in England through her marriage to John of Gaunt.  Her children and grandchildren would play pivotal roles on both sides of the Wars of the Roses:  her granddaughter was Cecily Neville, wife to Richard of York and mother to the Yorkist king, Edward IV while one of her great-granddaughters was Margaret Beaufort, mother to Henry VII.  It was really interesting to see how prominent her descendants were in English political life for hundreds of years after her death. 

This book was very detailed and at times, it was a little difficult to stay interested in the story.  Because there is a lot we don't know about this period in English history, Weir did a lot of research and made a lot of assumptions based on that research.  I don't know how much of what she wrote is true or just supposition and at times, that was kind of bothersome.  I like Alison Weir's books so I will read any of her books but this one was just okay in comparison to some of her other books.  3 stars.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think I've seen this book anywhere. I'm definitely going to have to check it out. New follower from the hop.


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