The plot points are the same: Saint Kilian becomes a missionary in Thuringia, urges the duke to separate from his wife because of consanguinity, and the duchess orders his assassination and faces divine justice. Yet the point of view (called POV among writers) alters the tale.
A few months ago, I told this story in Unusual Historicals from the POV of the spurned duchess, Geilana. Today, I’m looking at it from Kilian’s perspective on English Historical Fiction Authors. As I wrote the post, I saw the issues in a different way.
The headline to this post could apply to my two published novels. Both take place around the same time in history. The Cross and the Dragon shows historical events from the POV of a Christian Frankish noblewoman determined not to be stuck in a miserable marriage. The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar shows those same events from the perspective of a widowed peasant who has lost everything but her children.
Those stories are different because the main characters are different. One example takes place during the 777 assembly at Paderborn, when emirs ask Charles (Charlemagne) to invade Hispania and help them overthrow an adversary.
From The Cross and the Dragon:
Alda bit her lip and tried to ignore a twinge in her belly. It went against all reason, but the emirs’ request gave her a bad feeling.
She envied Hildegard and Bertrada. Queens were the only women who could speak at the assemblies. Yet even if Alda could voice her worries, she dared not contradict her husband in public.
Alfihar said, “We have much to gain from an alliance with our guests. Look at the riches Hispania will offer — the horses, the spices, and they said the hills are rich in iron.”
Alda closed her eyes and shook her head as more nobles spoke in favor of a conquest against the ruler of Cordoba.
And now from The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar:
The Frankish nobility debated the matter, discussing trade, the Church in Hispania, and the danger of crossing the Pyrenees and involving Francia in a feud between Islamic factions. When the king announced Frankish forces would invade Hispania next year, Deorlaf smiled to himself. With the Frankish army elsewhere, the Saxons could retake their lost land.
Charles could build Christian cities on Saxon soil. He could convince Saxons to kneel in a basin and have water poured on their heads. But as long as Herzog Widukind was free, the Westphalians would not be cowed, Deorlaf thought, standing straighter, and they would fight another day and rid themselves of Charles’s puppet in Eresburg.
Deorlaf looked across the hall at his mother. She was pulling a piece of lamb off the bone and slipping it into her mouth. She turned toward the clay platters and began to pick them up.
If I truly loved my country, I would escape and seek out Widukind and become one of his warriors. He pressed his hand to his ring hidden under his shirt. Wodan, forgive me, I can’t. Widukind will have scores of men, but if I left, no one would protect her.
The excerpts show another point when we learn about history or current events: who tells the story is just as important as what happens.