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. Her latest book, "Ambition, Arrogance & Pride" focuses on 18th century Salem MA. Sandra also blogs about history, travel, and other topics that catch her attention. For more information about Sandra, visit her website https://www.sandrawagnerwright.com
It seems so archaic now -- this conflict between the Columban and Roman church. But in the 7th century it was crucial. The Colmban church was decentralized, and accepting of women but was little known outside the British Isles. The Roman church dominated Europe. Its patriarchal structure offered political and trade ties. Coupled with "signs and wonders", Abbess Hildegard sees spiritual struggles through natural events. Would the old gods return to defeat both churches? If they did, would they exact vengeance?
The conflict between our Columban church and the Roman church shatters the very heavens. In May, as summer begins, the moon covers the sun. Then disease stalks the land and frightens people so badly that instead of praying, they throw themselves into the sea for a quicker death. Others fear the old gods are back and begin reciting charms against diseases caused by elf-shot—the arrows shot by capricious elves to causemischief.