Women Sleuths in
Historical Mysteries

Middle Ages
England

©1996-2013
womeninworldhistory.com

Absolution by Murder

by Peter Tremayne

This is the first of a series of popular books following the adventures of Sister Fidelma, an official judge/interpreter of medieval Ireland’s Breton laws. The author’s introduction, “Sister Fidelma’s World,” stresses that under these laws women had more rights and protection than any other western law code at that time. Women “could and did, aspire to all offices and professions as the coequal with men.” This book is particularly valuable to us because it sends Fidelma in 644 to the famous monastery at Whitby in Northumbian England. Whitby is headed by a Hilda, a real mideval abbess who is featured in our unit The Garnet-Eyed Brooch. At Whitby a church council was convened to decide whether the doctrines of the Irish Church or the Church of Rome would hold sway over Christian Europe. There Sister Fidelma is called upon to help solve the murder of an abbess who was to speak for the Celtic position.

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