I had not decided I would write about Saint Wigbert until I saw this tantalizing bit in The Catholic Encyclopedia: “during an incursion of the Saxons (774) his remains were taken for safety to Büraburg.”
Büraburg? Where the heroine of Queen of the Darkest Hour is from? Let me rewind a tad and make a confession. Fastrada, Charlemagne’s fourth wife—or third if you believe royal propaganda—was from east of the Rhine, but exactly where is uncertain. I’ve seen Thuringia and the Main valley. For her to feel real to me, I needed a specific place, so I picked the hilltop fortress of Büraburg. It was a not a royal property, and just as important, it was a strategic location. A Frankish king still at war with the Saxons would want to ally himself with whoever controlled the place.
Büraburg also gave me fuel for the story. I could place my heroine there as a child while the Saxons attacked. Those traumatic events would follow her into adulthood and shape how she felt about the pagans so close to her lands and how she advised her husband. Now I learned my Fastrada was in the physical presence of a saint while stones from catapults crashed into the walls.
I originally had Fastrada revering Saint Ursula of Cologne, who with her virginal companions (by the 9th century legend has the number at 11,000) were martyred in the city but later saved it.
But Wigbert was with her in a literal sense during a crisis, so he will continue to have a presence in my version of events. For more about Wigbert, see my post on English Historical Fiction Authors.
“St. Wigbert” by Klemens Löffler, The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912.