Seventh century England is a hodgepodge of warring Anglo-Saxon states filled with shifting alliances and treacherous grabs for royal power. Kings rise and fall, depending on Woden's Luck. Northumbria, the damp kingdom north of the River Humber, is a state riven with rivalries and kings determined to expand at any cost.
Women have no obvious role in a warrior society, but by using their wits, four women—two queens and two abbesses—make monumental changes. One woman marries a pagan king and successfully converts him to Christianity before he dies in battle. One becomes the most powerful abbess in Northumbria and holds the Great Synod at Whitby Abbey, which brings the kingdom back to the Roman Church. Another becomes queen and keeps political alliances strong despite different religious denominations. The fourth woman ushers in a new age by negotiating with kings and churchmen to establish one united church in the Northumbrian kingdom.
Based on true events and people, this is the story of Northumbria through the eyes of the most important women of their time.
Sandra writes historical fiction about courageous women who overcame discrimination. She also writes a weekly blog with entries relating to history, her travel experiences, and other topics that catch her attention. For more information about Sandra, visit her website www.sandrawagnerwright.com
Ethelberga enters the King's Hall for the first time, unsure of what to expect. Nervously, she serves her new husband, and then his men. To her relief, the warriors seem pleased with her, and this pleases the king. Ethelberga wants King Edwin to see her as a person who can elevate his reputation by making his court one that is well-regarded, and the first step is to gain respect from his warriors.
Everyone responds to me with bows and broad smiles. Their acceptance gives me confidence that I will be their true queen, not just a womb to produce princes. When I return to my seat, I glance at the king, who lifts his beaker to me. He seems pleased by my reception. I hope he realizes I can make his court as respected as the court at Kent or even Frankland. My scop recounts the joining of Kent and Northumbria, concluding with jests about the handsome princes who will soon crowd the trestle tables. I’m pleased with hissongs.