Friday, November 15, 2013
[Review] Elfrida: The First Crowned Queen of England by Elizabeth Norton
Author: Elizabeth Norton
Publisher: Amberley Publishing 16 October 2013
Genre: Non-fiction, history, British history, Kings and Queens of England, Anglo-Saxon, Vikings.
Theme: Elfrida, an Anglo-Saxon queen who was more ambitious than the king.
Pages: 224, with 15 black and white illustrations.
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: Free copy from Amberley Publishing for the purpose of review.
Elizabeth Norton embarks on a historical figure that sparse solid information is known. The history that has been passed down through the ages is Elfrida is believed to have murdered her step-son. She may not have held the weapon, but is believed to have been involved in the plotting. Norton wanted to look past Elfrida's infamous past and find other "attributes" that would define her, this was not an easy task.
Elfrida is the Latin name for the old English name AElfthryth. She was born in the mid 940s. Her father was a wealthy land owner. As an only daughter it is acknowledged she was spoiled. Married twice to men who were attracted to her beauty. Elfrida gave birth to three sons. She lived to be an elderly woman. Her personality was assertive, bold, ambitious, head-strong, arrogant. As a result she offended people. Elfrida's strong personality in an age when women were to be submissive and obedient; rubbed people the wrong way and helped create a tarnished legacy.
Norton utilized the writings of a historian named Geoffrey Gaimar (1100s).
I'm impressed with Norton's ability to write a biography on a historical character that is both notorious and slight on information. She poured through records, especially from the Anglo-Saxon chronicle of Gaimar. Carefully she ascribed her work. It would have been easy to write a book on the authors thoughts and leanings; instead Norton focused on the facts. She is transparent is stating when something was a probability, or fact.
A strong point of this book is it gave me a better view of life in England during the later years of the Viking raids and before William the Conqueror invaded. These ancient Saxon years when men were valiant and women were damsels. Elfrida was not what I would call a damsel, but an audacious noblewoman and queen.
Author Elizabeth Norton's site: http://www.elizabethnorton.co.uk/