|Queen Eadburh, sans cup.|
Once upon a time, in southeastern Britain, lived a beautiful princess named Salome. Her real name was Eadburh, but she was nicknamed Salome because she was such a fine dancer. She was the daughter of King Offa, whose wife Cynethryth had a beautiful younger sister called Judith. Salome and Judith were best friends through their whole lives.
King Offa was a powerful warlord, hell-bent to unite as much of Britain as he could under his control. If he could not conquer a neighboring country, he found some way to make an alliance with it. That was how King Beorhtric of Wessex happened to marry Salome. They were very happy together and supported Offa's work, helping his allies and attacking his enemies. Once, Beorhtric planned a banquet to which he invited a bitter enemy. He proposed that the dinner would be a peace conference, but in truth, he wanted his wife to poison his enemy's wine. Sadly, Salome poisoned her husband as well as his enemy. In terror, she fled to France, which was at the time governed by Charlemagne.
|Charley: "You'd really rather have Pepin the Short?|
Charlemagne was impressed by the young English princess. Widow or not, murderess or not, he thought she'd make a fine wife but he figured he would put her to the test first. He brought her to the his palace and introduced her to one of his sons. Then he asked which she would prefer to marry, him or his son. She answered honestly that, given the age difference, she would rather have the son. Too bad for her. It was out the door and down the road to a nunnery.
To be fair, Charlemagne was not too hard on her. He did appoint her abbess of the convent, a softer gig than she might have expected. But it didn't take her too long to blow that too. Caught in bed with a visiting Saxon, she was hustled out the door and into the gutter. That was when she figured a pilgrimage would be a good idea.
As she set off for the Holy Land, her aunt Judith set off from Mercia to find her. At this point, you need to picture the yellowed map with red lines forming as two small dots move across it. When the first reaches the Holy Land, it turns to head west. The second keeps following the first.
|Blue Danube, Columbus OH: this Danube won't make you a blind leper|
She moved into the convent attached to the church in Niederaltaich, which is where Aunt Judith found her. Judith too decided to spend her remaining years in that convent, where they lived so ascetically and penitently that they continue to be revered as saints there.