Wednesday, November 3, 2010
My long-time favourite is Katherine Swynford in Anya Seton’s novel ‘Katherine’. It’s based on the true 14th century story of the daughter of an obscure knight who became governess to the powerful John of Gaunt’s daughters. She fell in love with him (and captivated him too) and bore him four children (out of wedlock). It’s a testament to Katherine’s strength of character that she never wavered in her love and loyalty even when, for political reasons, John married the Infanta of Castille and was forced to put her aside. Katherine accepted her role, knew John could never marry her, but lovingly brought up their children. In the end the most powerful Duke in the realm went against all the medieval mores and DID marry his beloved mistress (and also had their four children legitimised). John and Katherine were soul-mates, and their story is one of love (eventually) conquering all. It’s a long time since I read the book, but just writing this short summary has made me reach for it from my bookshelf. I’ll have to read it again, admire Katherine’s courage and constancy and, like her, fall in love with John again!