''Katherine'' is a work of HistoricalFiction by Anya Seton. It tells the story of major events in Fourteenth Century England from the perspective of Katherine de Roet, a yeoman's daughter, who becomes the mistress and eventual wife of John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster.
''Katherine'' was relatively well-researched and tries to be historically accurate wherever historical facts are attested. It is commonly found on lists of the best works of HistoricalFiction.
!!This novel provides examples of the following:
* AffectionateNickname: Geoffrey Chaucer calls his wife 'Pica', mostly to save on confusion.
** John's pet name for Katherine is Katrine.
* AllPsychologyIsFreudian: John of Gaunt is first drawn to Katherine because she reminds of him of a beloved childhood nurse. He is also haunted by the accusation of a childhood companion that he is a foundling.
** Teenage Blanchette has a lot of FreudianExcuse that come to a head when an older boy she has a crush on clearly prefers Katherine... and then she overhears a friar accuse her mother of murdering her father. [[spoiler: Katherine and Duke John didn't know till that moment that Hugh, her husband was murdered by a PoisonousFriend of the Duke's]].
* AndroclesLion: Katherine saves a serf, Cob, from the stockades when she returns to Hugh's manor. When that same manor is set on fire by rebels, Cob rescues a near-unconscious Katherine from the building and takes her to the nearby village.
** Katherine and Hugh Swynford, ''de facto'' if not ''de jure''
** Plenty of others (this is the European nobility after all) including some of Katherine and John's daughters
** Averted with [[spoiler: Blanchette]], who avoided her unwanted arranged marriage by [[spoiler: catching scarlett fever]] and then [[spoiler: running away deliriously and joining a convent]].
** While both Pica and Chaucer willingly accepted their arranged match, their relationship was never better than tepid and they eventually settled into an amicable separation as each pursued his/her career in different royal retinues.
* AssholeVictim: Hugh Swynford's death sounds painful, but it's hard to mourn him.
* BadGuysDoTheDirtyWork: [[spoiler: Nirac murders Hugh Swynford (who he always hated) when he learned that his patron, the Duke of Lancaster, was frustrated that Swynford wasn't dying of his war wounds.]]
* BastardBastard: The Beauforts' 'tainted' birth makes their future problematic despite their royal blood. John fixes everything by marrying their mother.
* BerserkButton: The rebels press John's when they publicly accuse him of being a changeling child. He goes on a RoaringRampageofRevenge until his stepsister summons [[MoralityPet Katherine]] to calm him down.
* BewareTheSillyOnes: [[spoiler: Nirac de Bayonne]]
* BigDamnHeroes: John prevents Hugh Swynford from molesting Katherine the first time they meet and has him punished accordingly, though Hugh still marries Katherine later.
** And again when the Duke shows up just in time when Katherine, abandoned by her servants, gives birth to Blanchette and a crazed Lady Nichola tries to run off with her, only for John to show up and stop her at just the right moment.
* BigFancyHouse: Subverted with Hugh Swynford's rundown estate, Kettlethorpe.
* TheBlackDeath: [[spoiler: it kills off Blanche.]]
* [[CluelessChickMagnet Clueless Dude Magnet]]: Katherine has a lot of men enchanted by her beauty, but she only has eyes for the Duke.
* CoolBigSis: Duchess Blanche behaves like one towards Katherine, inspiring the girl's devotion to her.
* CrazyCatLady: Mentally fragile Lady Nichola who lives in isolation at Kettlethorpe with only a kitten for company.
* ControlFreak: Katherine's sister Phillipa.
* DaddysGirl: Constanza is this in a decidedly creepy way literally worshiping the memory of her father, the aptly nicknamed Pedro the Cruel. John is understandably squicked.
** Elizabeth is one as well, and John is noted to be fonder of her than he is of Philippa, his oldest.
** Blanchette has fond memories of her father Hugh, unlike her mother.
** [[spoiler: Hugh Swynford]]
** [[spoiler: Infanta Costanza, John of Gaunt's second wife, daughter of the deposed King of Castile, but not until after John has spent nearly twenty years 'making her as happy as it was her nature to be'.]]
* EmoTeen: Blanchette, though she has good reason. Constanza of Castile is older than a teen but ''very'' Emo.
%%* FreudianExcuse: John of Gaunt and Blanchette
* GemEncrusted: Several items throughout the novel. Most especially:
** Some of the holy relics in Waltham Abbey.
** Anything worn by UsefulNotes/RichardTheSecond.
* GoldDigger: Alice Perrers, who actually steals rings off the King's fingers just after he dies.
* GreyEyes: Katherine's grey eyes are often commented upon, and Blanchette is the only one of her children who inherits them.
* HairTriggerTemper: There are multiple mentions of the infamous Plantagenet temper, particularly John's.
* HaveAGayOldTime: Subverted. Describing Nirac, Seton writes: "He was gay." She meant he had a playful demeanor, of course. But Nirac probably was a homosexual.
* HeelRealization: Face to face with his tearful young wife after the horrors of the Peasants' Rebellion John of Gaunt abruptly realizes what a total heel he's been towards her, and worse to their child. He gets better.
* HeroesWantRedheads: The Duke of Lancaster, Hugh Swynford, and Roger de Cheyne, all skilled warriors, have a thing for the redheaded Katherine. On the other hand, Creator/GeoffreyChaucer the poet isn't really interested, as he was in love with Blanche.
* IAmNotPretty: Early on in the novel, Katherine bemoans her reddish-blonde hair and small breasts. [[HelloNurse The men she meets don't seem to share the same view.]]
* IncorruptiblePurePureness: Blanche, the Duchess of Lancaster, John of Gaunt's first wife.
* TheIngenue: Katherine, at first, as she grew up in a Coventry and knew nothing of the court.
* JerkAss: Hugh Swynford.
** John of Gaunt behaves like one too, especially towards his unwanted second wife and their child. After Katherine gives him the brush off he recognizes what a cad he's been and spends the next twenty years making it up to them both.
** Philippa is a strict and rather insensitive woman.
* JerkassHasAPoint: When Katherine first arrives at the castle her sisters and the ladies-in-waiting see her as a mere country bumpkin. The much-hated Alice Perrers however points out that Katherine is gorgeous and the men will see this if they can't.
* LonelyDollGirl: Katherine's teenage daughter Blanchette who spends most of her time in her chamber playing with puppets.
* LovedINotHonorMore: Katherine's sleeping conscience comes roaring to life after she discovers her husband was murdered to clear the way for her and John. That and the loss of Blanchette leads to her decision to give up the relationship. John does not take it well.
* LoveTriangle: Katherine, John of Gaunt, and Hugh Swynford.
** And one with Geoffrey Chaucer, Philippa and Queen Blanche. Nothing ever comes of it, but it's clear Geoffrey isn't particularly in love with his wife.
** Alice Perrers, to King Edward, and a shameless one at that.
** Katherine, to John of Gaunt, during his second marriage.
* NeatFreak: Again, Katherine's sister Phillipa.
* MadWomanInTheAttic: Lady Nichola Swynford, Hugh's abused and mentally unstable stepmother, who has lived in isolation at the rundown manor Kettlethorpe for years. Katherine fears that she will become like Lady Nichola herself if compelled to live alone at Kettlethorpe, and later has the same misgivings about her reclusive daughter Blanchette.
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone: Katherine, upon realising [[spoiler: how much she's neglected Blanchette after she collapses from scarlet fever.]]
* MyGreatestFailure: Katherine still searches for Blanchette years after she disappears. [[spoiler: Blanchette had been in a Coventry all along and does return at the novel's end, after finally forgiving her mother, when she had previously blamed her for Hugh's death.]]
* OldRetainer: Gibbon, to the Swynfords.
* ParentalHypocrisy: Katherine is angry and embarrassed at Blanchette's resistance to her ArrangedMarriage, but much earlier in the novel she reacted similarly when courted by Hugh Swynford.
* PatronSaint: Katherine is shown praying and making vows to St. Katherine her name saint and patroness. Later John dedicates a chapel to the Saint in thanks for Katherine's survival.
* ThePhilosopher: Whenever Creator/GeoffreyChaucer meets someone, or encounters some new situation, he internally philosophizes--sometimes in [[Literature/TheCanterburyTales beautiful poetic verse]]--on that person's future and human life in general.
* ThePlague: Of course; this is 14th Century England. Specific cases:
** [[spoiler: Isolda Neumann, John of Gaunt's foster mother till age eight]], died during TheBlackDeath.
** [[spoiler: Blanche, the Duchess of Lancaster]]
** [[spoiler: Katherine]], but [[spoiler:she caught it as a child and survived]].
* PlanetOfSteves: Justified, for historical accuracy.
** Quite a few female characters are named Phillipa. (Evidently many people named their daughters after the Queen.) Creator/GeoffreyChaucer invoked the trope to explain why they instead call Katherine's sister Pica.
** Averted with Katherine's daughter Blanche, who is named for the Duchess of Lancaster. The younger Blanche is called Blanchette throughout.
** Katherine has two sons named Tom (one to Hugh, one to John of Gaunt), both born on the feast of St. Thomas. She calls the younger one Tamkin.
* PersonalHorror: John of Gaunt is mortified as a child when accused by Pieter Neumann of being a [[SwitchedAtBirth changeling]].
* PrettyBoy: Young Richard II. Scarcely an appearance by him goes by where his girlish prettiness is not remarked on.
* RoyalBrat: UsefulNotes/RichardTheSecond, so very much.
* RoyalsWhoActuallyDoSomething: John of Gaunt especially, as well as some of his brothers. King Edward was said to have been this in his younger days, before the story.
** Pieter Neumann sought refuge in a church after being discovered by John of Gaunt, thus saving his life, but not preventing him from being exiled.
** [[spoiler: Blanchette, after realizing Katherine's connection to her father Hugh Swynford's death.]]
* ShotgunWedding: Katherine's middle-class friend Hawise is only allowed to marry her boyfriend after she gets pregnant.
* SilkHidingSteel: Katherine grows into this, eventually.
* SpiritedYoungLady: Katherine.
* StatuesqueStunner: Katherine is mentioned as being willowy and slender, though John is still OneHeadTaller.
* TakingTheVeil: [[spoiler: Blanchette.]]
* TheUnfavourite: Catalina, John of Gaunt's daughter with his unloved second wife, Constanza. He is indifferent even when her life is endangered during the rebellion. But he winces when his tearful young wife mentions 'he often doesn't want to see Catalina' when they are reunited. He hadn't realized how obvious he was.
** It's also noted John is often irritated by his oldest daughter, Philippa, but he dotes upon Elizabeth and his bastards.
* UnwantedSpouse: Poor Hugh Swynford, though he did try to rape Katherine when he first met her, so her disdain for him is understandable. And poor Constanza of Castile - though the latter at least gets a happy ending.
* WhenSheSmiles: Katherine thought Blanche was plain-looking when she first saw her at a royal dinner, but when Blanche smiled, she thought Blanche was the most beautiful person she'd ever seen