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
Queen Ethelberga and her household spend the 12 days of Christmas with her brother's court at Kent. Ethelberga projects her royal status as Queen of Northumbria through her clothing and memories. Yet Ethelberga knows she no longer has a throne. All too soon, Ethelberga's brother, the King of Kent, will rule on her future. Will she stay with the court in Kent? Will she go to a monastery in Frankland? Ethelberga's uncertain future casts a dark shadow over her celebration of the holiday festivities.
We spend the Twelve Days of Christmas at my brother’s court. Every day we feast and enjoy entertainments. Now the season is over, and we Northumbrians are summoned to the king’s chamber. I dress carefully, so my brother can see I am a queen equal to his wife, despite the fact that I arrived in rags. My undertunic is linen with embroidery at the neckline and hem, and I fasten the overgarment with my own brooches. I clasp my armbands and neck torc, the gifts Edwin gave me on our wedding day. Their golden hue glows in the firelight. I also brought buckles to attach on my shoes. My silk headdress wraps around my head and shoulders, reducing the effect of my jewelry. I’m not entirely pleased with my appearance, but the garments support my status as queen. I take a deepbreath.