Edith from Wessex: Wife of Otto the Great, A Medieval Queen

Written by Regine Sondermann
Review by Adam Hussey

This fascinating, well-written, enjoyable and manageable read sheds light on a lesser-known figure from both 10th-century English and German history.

The book follows the life of Edith from her childhood in Wessex through her marriage to Otto the Great and subsequent death at the age of thirty-six in Magdeburg, Germany. The text, written in an autobiographical style, offers an interesting glimpse into the life of a wealthy noblewoman and Queen. Although embellished into a fictional account, the historical nature of the book is well researched, as signified by the range of references provided at the end of the book

We are shown the interplay of two cultures, which, although very similar, are worlds apart; Edith has to navigate her way between them and forge her own identity. Through her eyes the author details the limitations and expectations of female life: on the one hand they are at the whim of their male relatives, but on the other they are the foundation of many key alliances through their marriages. The book further details the intrigues of court life, the forging of ties through family bonds, and the constant battle for survival against enemies both from within and outside the kingdom.

I recommend the novel for readers interested in the later Saxon era, particularly as it offers a feminine view of the period and provides an idea of events taking place across Western Europe, not just in England. Although owing to its short length and scholarly nature, the book does not delve into descriptive language and veers more towards fictional biography than an historical novel. It may a little high-priced at £9.36 for only 131 pages, but it is a very interesting and educational read.