Travels with a Medieval Queen

 

A journey in the footsteps of Constance d’Hauteville, heir to the throne of Norman Sicily and wife of the Holy Roman Emperor, who in 1194 traveled from Germany to Sicily to reclaim her throne, giving birth on the way to a baby who would become the Emperor Frederick II, known as Stupor Mundi.

 

 

            Rather than using the traditional devices of historical fiction, [Simeti] cleverly interweaves the documented history with her own observations on the visible remnants of the landscape Constance saw on her twelfth-century journey and with imaginative musings on the queen’s state of mind…most engaging when Simeti gives full rein to her descriptive powers, whether she is carefully articulating the complexities of court intrigue, the abundance of the countryside or the intricate decoration of a medieval baptistry.

                                               -  The Women’s Review of Books

           [Constance’s] story is dramatic, and Simeti, who combines admirable erudition with the imaginative license of a self-confessed “incautious amateur”, tells it compellingly….Her material may be fragmentary, but the pieces glitter. She knows enough to make this book as illuminating as it is charming.

                                               -  Sunday Times

             This is a book that will please both the connoisseur of good travel writing and the historian in thrall to the Middle Ages. An excellent read.

                                               -  Virginia Quarterly Review