“Glory had passed him by, fame too perhaps would not endure, it might well be that the incalculable goddess would decree ill fame as his due…but whatever the shadowed years might bring, as long as his life should last, he knew that he had here at his side one sure recompense and one abiding loyalty.”
- Anya Seton’s Katherine
I own a first edition of this book, and I have feels every time I read it. Massive feels. Cry-in-public feels. Even if Anya Seton had not written such a beautiful tome, John of Gaunt’s actions speak for themselves. He married his longtime mistress Katherine de Roet despite her common stock and his own awareness of his Plantagenet blood, his own princely ambitions; he legitimized the Beaufords; he eventually married her well after some of their physical beauty faded.
It’s always been circumstances like these that humanize the past for me. John of Gaunt’s ego, his insecurities, his passions. It’s all there in contemporary sources and in the literature of the age.
I’d like to meet a scholar who’d deny that John of Gaunt loved her, and loved her beautifully.