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"The Dark Queens: The Bloody Rivalry That Forged the Medieval World"

Aired on Tuesday, May 30th.
Aired on Tuesday, May 30th.

"Queen Brunhild and Queen Fredegund are restored to center stage.... Puhak presents a vivid picture of how they skillfully preserved their lives, their power, and their families.... She also imagines what it might mean if girls [today] found them featured more prominently in their textbooks. History readers will be enthralled." -- Shelf Awareness

Our guest is Shelley Puhak, an acclaimed poet and essayist whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, Lapham's Quarterly, Virginia Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. Her essays have been included in The Best American Travel Writing as well as (on several occasions) The Best American Essays. Puhak joins us to discuss her latest book, a compelling work of narrative nonfiction that sheds new light on the so-called Dark Ages by profiling Brunhild and Fredegund, two all-but-forgotten medieval queens who ruled -- both courageously and ruthlessly -- in sixth-century Europe. As noted of this book by Publishers Weekly, in a starred review: "A lyrical and astute assessment of the political maneuvers, battlefield strategies, and resilience of medieval queens and rivals Fredegund and Brunhild.... Puhak skillfully draws on contemporaneous sources, including letters, poems, and a vividly told yet obviously biased account by Brunhild's devoted ally, Bishop Gregory of Tours, to create her thrilling history. The result is a deeply fascinating portrait of the early Middle Ages that vigorously reclaims two powerhouse women from obscurity."

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