New Release: Ascent – the story of Poppa of Bayeux
I'm so thrilled to share my latest release with my followers: Ascent, the story of Poppa of Bayeux. Set in the early days of the new county of Normandy, it's a tale of danger, adversity, and love.
Ascent is the first in a new series, House of Normandy, detailing the lives of the women behind the famous men who forged Normandy. Little is known about them, so I made it my task to bring them back to life.
Whilst the series is fictional, I include real events, which they likely witnessed or heard of.
Poppa of Bayeux is a fascinating woman. Following a Viking raid on Bayeux by the (in)famous Rollo, she is wed to him in the Danish custom – by handfasting outside Church grounds. She must have been very young – too young to bear children, as their son and daughter were both born years later.
|Statue of Poppa of Bayeux, |
Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain
The Catholic Church had little to do with it, and although priests were not happy, they still accepted it in the early days. That didn't stop them from allowing the men to marry ’properly’, with a Church blessing.
It may be that Rollo was a bigamist, in a modern sense, as records hint at a marriage to an illegitimate daughter of King Charles, which whom he reached an important accord in 911, marking his ascendancy in Neustrian politics, and the beginning of Normannia. But there are no records of Gisela, so was it all invented, perhaps to give him a hint of legitimacy? Hm...
Poppa, meanwhile, must have been cast aside during that time, yet their son, William, remained Rollo's heir.
With all these incredible events unfolding, it was great fun to create Poppa's life. There are moments of danger, of happiness, and of sadness and loss. I tried to remain true to the times as much as possible, which involved the likely loss of a child or two.
Reviewers call Poppa "strong", "dignified", and "a wonderful heroine", and I agree. I believe she wielded some power, as daughter of a count, but she also encountered heartache and danger.
As for Rollo (Hrólfr in Ascent), he had to be ruthless and ambitious, but I also see him as a man of conscience, especially later in life. It is recorded that, in his latter years, his son, William Longsword, took over many duties. This would imply some form of ill health, either physical or mental, although nothing is recorded. So I chose... well, find out in Ascent!
A brutal Viking raid heralds the dawn of a new, powerful dynasty – the House of Normandy
Neustria, Kingdom of the West Franks
Fourteen-year-old Poppa’s life changes when Northmen land near Bayeux. Count Bérengar, her father, submits to them, and she is handfasted to Hrólfr, the Northmen’s heathen leader, as part of their agreement.
To her relief, Hrólfr leaves immediately in search of further conquest, only returning to claim her years later. In the face of retaliating Franks, they flee to East Anglia, where she gives birth to their son and daughter.
When Hrólfr and Poppa return to reclaim Bayeux, his new campaign strikes at the heart of Frankish power, and King Charles of the West Franks offers him a pact he cannot refuse. In exchange for vast tracts of land in Neustria, Hrólfr must convert to Christianity and accept marriage to Gisela, the king’s illegitimate daughter.
Poppa’s world shatters. She remains in Bayeux, with her daughter, Adela. When Gisela arrives one day, demanding she hand over Adela, to be raised in Rouen, Poppa’s patience is at an end. But Gisela makes for a dangerous enemy, and only one woman will survive their confrontation high up on the cliffs.
Will Poppa live to witness the dawn of a new era?
ASCENT is the first in a new series about the early women of the House of Normandy – women whose stories have been forgotten. Almost!
Readers of Viking and medieval fiction will enjoy ASCENT, a fictional account of the life of Poppa of Bayeux, handfasted wife of Rollo the Viking.
International Amazon buy link: mybook.to/NormandyAscent
Ascent is available in Kindle ebook and paperback formats, and soon in hardback too.