Katherine Swynford is, arguably, the most famous – or infamous – of English ladies to have risen so high as to become the first lady of the kingdom, without ever being queen.
Born Katherine de Roet in Hainault, now in modern-day Belgium, in around 1350, her father was Sir Paon de Roet of Guyenne. Unfortunately, as can be the way with Medieval women, I could find no mention of her mother’s identity.
Sir Paon was a Hainault knight who travelled to England with its new queen , Philippa of Hainault, as part of her retinue. As a consequence, Katherine was raised at the English court of Queen Philippa and her illustrious husband, King Edward III.
Katherine and her older sister, Philippa, were eventually given positions as ladies-in-waiting to members of the royal family. Philippa joined the household of Elizabeth de Burgh, wife of Lionel of Antwerp…
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