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
It seemed as if the thanes in the King's Hall were involved in a cosmic battle. Perhaps they were. Both Bishop Paulinus and the Woden's priest Coifi addressed the Witan. In the end, Coifi declared the God of Paulinus to be the better choice. But even cosmic battles have lesser participants. Queen Ethelberga knows that Paulinus' success is also hers. She has done the job Pope Boniface gave her. She is more than a woman who bears princes. Her faith converted a king.
The villa is strangely quiet as my ladies and I walk to chapel. All through the night, the King’s Hall heaved with spirits, as if some celestial battle was taking place. My husband’s voice rang out, which didn’t surprise me. But I could also hear Paulinus exhorting the thanes, his voice strong enough to ring through the night air to my chamber. My ladies and I spent the night in prayer, for I knew this was the moment. At last my purpose is fulfilled. It is a great relief that neither the pope nor Paulinus can chastise me for failing to convert the king. From now on, they will call me blessed for myfaith.