The Greek Empress
In 980 a boy is born in Cleve who will change the whole of western civilisation and be celebrated by his contemporaries as the mirabila mundi, the wonder of the world. His career is meticulously planned out by his mother Theophanu, who, against all odds, rises to become the most powerful woman in the West and shapes the future of both her son and the empire.
In this colourful and riveting historical novel, Gabrielle Alioth tells the story of the most remarkable woman of the Middle Ages. Theophanu, the Byzantine bride who was derided as a Greek when she married Otto II, becomes an astute politician at the side of her ineffectual husband. She is willing to deploy all her diplomatic skill in order to ensure her son Otto III is crowned Roman emperor. To this end, she accompanies her husband on a voyage to Italy - he is planning to conquer Calabria, and is gathering the largest army he has ever commanded against the Saracens. But Otto is ambushed and suffers a crushing defeat. Although he manages to make a daring escape, he dies soon after. Now Theophanu's most powerful enemy, Henry I, Duke of Bavaria, craves the throne and seizes little Otto. Theophanu stages a risqué deception to get her child back and goes on to become the first ever sovereign empress in the western world. A superbly researched political thriller set in the dark ages.
Press acclaim for Die Braut aus Byzanz (2008): "Alioth's novel is both rich in ambience and wide in scope; she portrays life at the court so vividly, and describes the hardships suffered by the young girl wrested from her home to be a child-bride so very movingly. A novel that is as evocative as it is entertaining." Roman Bucheli, Neue Zürcher Zeitung