Some women are just a note or a chapter in a manuscript. Yet the mere fact that a monk in a dark ages monastery felt the need to mention them reveals that they did something exceptional. They rose, they spoke out, they acted, their name mentioned, perhaps with some unease, in the rooms of power.
Some even stepped into those rooms. Mainly, it was as regents, for their children or grandchildren. At times to step in, temporarily, for a husband away at war. Some were abbesses of great monasteries. Very rarely they writers. Very few were heiresses who tried the impossible - succeed their fathers, and rule as lords.
Often, their memory was tainted, and the sources about them polarised, so uncomfortable patriarchy was with their mere existence. A few found support in the Church and were turned into saints. An even smaller number became legends, their names on everyone’s lips: Galla Placidia, Adelaide of Burgundy, Theophanu, Matilda of Tuscany, Eleanor of Aquitaine.
Through my blog, I try to pay some of these incredible women their due, shaking the dust off their memories, sharing visuals of their world, snippets about their life, and the occasional travel tip in their footsteps.
Rewriting the Comitissa
My novels are a blend of fiction and careful research. My heroines and heroes are real historical characters, and my stories try to reimagine the passions, obsessions, and love stories hidden between the folds of medieval chronicles and propaganda. If you enjoyed the historical investigation of Tom Holland's Millenium and dreamt on the pages of Pope Joan and The Chronicles of Mistra, my books could be for you.
The history of the middle ages was written by men and for men, in monasteries and cathedrals where the word 'female' was synonymous with 'daughter of Eve.' Unsurprisingly, the few women who secured positions of power in those days ended up misrepresented, and almost inevitably demonised. My fiction tries to redress that, deviating from unreliable sources to re-imagine and re-write pages of history from a fresh perspective.
Lotharingia and The Road to Canossa are the first and second volumes in the Comitissa series. whose heroine is Countess Matilde of Tuscany, the Comittissa, or Grancontessa, as she is still known in Italy.
To survive, you must tell stories.