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Head of Zeus
The Dark Queens
The Dark Queens: The Bloody Rivalry that Forged the Medieval World Shelley Puhak

A vivid double biography of two fearless Early Medieval queens, and an enthralling journey of discovery across the unfamiliar and blood-soaked historical landscape of sixth-century Merovingian France.

Brunhild was a Visigothic princess, raised to be married off for the sake of alliance-building. Her sister-in-law Fredegund started out as a lowly palace slave. And yet – in sixth-century Merovingian France, where women were excluded from noble succession and royal politics was a blood sport – these two iron-willed strategists reigned over vast realms for decades, changing the face of Europe.

The two queens commanded armies, developed taxation policies, established infrastructure and negotiated with emperors and popes, all the time fighting a gruelling forty-year civil war with each other. Yet after Brunhild and Fredegund's deaths, their stories were rewritten, their names consigned to slander and legend.

From the tangled primary evidence of Merovingian sources – the works of the chronicler Gregory of Tours and the Latin poet Venantius Fortunatus – award-winning writer Shelley Puhak weaves a gripping and intricate tale, its characters driven by ambition, lust and jealousy to acts of treachery and murderous violence. The Dark Queens resurrects these two women in all their complexity, painting a richly detailed portrait of a shadowy era and dispelling some of the stubbornest myths about female power.

Head of Zeus, an Apollo book * Medieval History
03 Mar 2022 * 336pp * £9.99 * 9781801109130
Shelley Puhak
Shelley Puhak
Shelley Puhak is a poet and writer whose work engages with history in unexpected ways. She has more than a decade of experience teaching literature and creative writing and is the author of two award-winning books of poetry, Guinevere in Baltimore and Stalin in Aruba. Shelley's writing has appeared in publications including The Atlantic, Creative Nonfiction and Virginia Quarterly Review, been anthologised in Best American Travel Writing, and featured in numerous editions of Best American Essays. The Dark Queens is her first non-fiction book.