Author: Regine Sondermann
Published: April 7th 2016
“You’d like to love me, but you don’t really know me.”
With these words, Queen Edith begins to speak to us, as if she were still able to address us, though she lived over a thousand years ago. Magdeburg author Regine Sondermann draws the reader close to this woman from the early Middle Ages, about whom little was known until now. She was young and came from England. She died at the age of 36, and she was laid to rest in the Magdeburg Cathedral. The author sifted through documents and history books to discover small shards of Edith’s short life, like a ceramic bowl destroyed long ago. She has pieced them together in this story of a woman and her family, which takes the reader to an unfamiliar land that seems so close but is infinitely far away.
To be honest, Queen Edith was a previously unknown monarch to me. But when reading Edith from Wessex, I got to know not only a queen, but also the person she was when she was a princess and how it was like after she got married to Otto. Unlike most English monarchs I was used to reading, Queen Edith has a mild and gentle personality; she was a piece in a game of chess instead of being a player alongside her husband.
Again, I was surprised at the age most, if not all female nobilities were married off to other rulers who were usually their elder by a couple of decades. It almost is equivalent to the child brides of this era but in the tenth century, human rights haven’t existed yet and therefore, no one is there to oppose the king’s decisions and to defend the child. At the same time, in Edith from Wessex, I realized that princesses were brought up to expect to be married off to some ruler from faraway lands and they believe that doing so meant bringing honor to their families.
I’d like to think that in meeting Otto, both Edith and he managed to find true love even though Otto would be filled with thoughts of his throne and kingdom later on. It’s a consolation to know that Edith was loved by Otto and even for a while, she managed to find happiness in having her own children.
Edith is really a one of a kind. I admire her thirst for knowledge and her strong faith in God. Her loyalty to her husband, King Otto, through thick and thin is also commendable. In the book, she is depicted as someone who has many thoughts and manages to retain a portion of her innocence of her childhood. I believe that she only wished for peace instead of bloodshed.
The author has done as wonderful job of crafting such a beautiful and mesmerizing story of how the life of Queen Edith might have been like through a handful of information that is available. Edith’s short life was likened to a ceramic bowl destroyed long ago. From the shards Regine had gathered, I can see that the ceramic bowl was a very precious one indeed. The narration of Edith from Wessex had some childlike effect and is filled with various emotions and conflicts not unlike a game of chess. Through this book, I can really see for myself exactly how much burden a king carries in strategizing to enlarge his kingdom and remain on the throne. He makes allies and enemies and everyday is just another battle but in different forms.
I would like to express my gratitude to the author, Regine Sondermann for sending me a piece of treasure that is her book.