Mistress of the Monarchy
    I should like to express my warmest gratitude to various people who have helped with this book. To Anthony Goodman, our finest late-mediaeval historian, for his assistance with references and original documents; I am also indebted to him for his two booklets,
Katherine Swynford
Honourable Lady or She-Devil?
, and his magnificent collection of essays on John of Gaunt, which have all proved profoundly useful. To Dr Nicholas Bennett, Librarian of Lincoln Cathedral Library, and his wife Carol for their kindness in welcoming me to the library, making available various sources, and arranging a visit to the Priory, where Katherine Swynford lived towards the end of her life. To Roger Joy, founder of the Katherine Swynford Society and a walking authority on Katherine, for generously sharing his knowledge with me, and for sending me his unpublished articles. To Patricia McLeod and the staff of Sutton Library for their efforts in tracking down numerous books and articles. To Abigail Bennett of the University of York, for translating into English numerous texts in mediaeval Latin. To Andrew Barr and his team at The National Trust East Midlands Regional Office. To the staff at Lincoln Central Library for their assistance in locating books.
    I am indebted also to the many people who have published information about Katherine on the internet, foremost amongst whom is Judy Perry, who has been researching her subject for over twenty-five years.
    My gratitude to my editors for commissioning this book is acknowledged separately, in the Introduction, but I should also like to express it here on account of their unflagging enthusiasm, their sensitive insights and their illuminating input. I wish also to thank my inspirational and ever-supportive agent, Julian Alexander, and all the people at Random House who have helped to create this book.
    Lastly, I wish to thank my family and friends, who have all cheerfully put up with me while the book was being written. And to Rankin, my husband — thanks for all the wonderful meals, and just for being there.

Author’s Notes
    I have used the form ‘Katherine’ (rather than ‘Catherine’) throughout, as Katherine’s name is usually spelt with a K in contemporary sources.
    The correct mediaeval form of her name is ‘Katherine de Swynford’, but I have chosen to refer to her as ‘Katherine Swynford’, as she is traditionally and popularly known.
    It is worth noting that in John of Gaunt’s Register, Katherine’s name is given as either ‘Katherine’ or ‘Kateryn(e)’. The language of the court and the aristocracy at this time was Norman French, and these spellings indicate that John — and others — probably pronounced her name in the French way as ‘Katrine’.
    The modern equivalent of fourteenth-century monetary values has been given in brackets throughout the book. For currency conversion, I have used an invaluable internet website, MeasuringWorth.com, produced by Lawrence H. Officer, Professor of Economics at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and Samuel H. Williams, Professor of Economics, Emeritus, of Miami University.

    T his is a love story, one of the greatest and most remarkable love stories of mediaeval England. It is the extraordinary tale of an exceptional woman, Katherine Swynford, who became first the mistress, and later the wife, of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, one of the outstanding princes of the high Middle Ages.
    Katherine Swynford’s story first captured my imagination four decades ago, when I read Anya Seton’s famous novel about her, Katherine. This epic novel made a tremendous impact on me as an adolescent, and still has the power to move me today. And I am not alone, because it has hardly been out of print since its first publication in 1954, and came ninety-fifth in the top hundred favourite books voted for by the public in BBC TV’s The Big Read in 2003. (Interested readers will find more about this novel in the

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