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Lotharingia: Charlemagne's Heir (A novel of medieval Europe) (Comitissa of Tuscany Book 1) by [Lara Byrne]

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Lotharingia: Charlemagne's Heir (A novel of medieval Europe) (Comitissa of Tuscany Book 1) Kindle Edition

3.9 3.9 out of 5 stars 200 ratings

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From the Publisher

Castle of Rossena

Matilde's birth place?

Matilde was a thirdborn and the exact day of her birth, in 1046, is not recorded, although the month of March has been put forward as a suggestion.

Her birthplace is also unknown. Some historians suggest the city of Mantova, others one of her father's magnificent castles guarding the roads to Rome on the Emilian-Tuscan Apennines. Rossena castle, shown here, is a short walk and an even shorter ride from her father's stronghold of Canossa. This countryside of rolling hills, rivers, and rock cliff fortresses was the setting of Matilde's childhood.

Castle of Rossena

Rome - Castel Sant'Angelo

Mantova - piazza at night time

San Michele in Foro

Editorial Reviews


Editorial Review from The Historical Fiction PressThis is a book of historical fiction lover's dreams or, at least, of my dreams. In truth, this book needs to be categorised in the historical literary section (if there was one) because of the sheer magnitude and outstanding development of the research done by Lara Byrne. There are so many adjectives to describe this book: rich, quality, immersive, captivating, enthralling, meaty, intriguing, educational, and more. As a fan of classic books such as Les Miserables, or War and Peace, or books from Edward Rutherford, or Margaret George, this is the next book for you, and the next author to follow.Each and every character is developed in an astounding way and no one is left without a full embodiment, even Matilde's maid is fleshed out in a way that you feel and hear her voice, and see her face.This time period in history is so often portrayed with books about Eleanor of Aquitaine, and the turbulent history of Henry II of England - but this one takes you on a journey to what was happening in Italy and Germany during the same intriguing era. I must admit, I knew very little about these people before reading this, and Ms Byrne does an excellent job of educating in a way that feels very authentic and flows with a skill worthy of classic storytellers. Ms Byrne is one to watch on the historical fiction scene!When we are introduced to the characters of Matilde and Heinrich, the actual history of these two people is woven into a story befitting Shakespeare, himself - a tangle of two star-crossed lovers whose lives are mapped out at their birth and love is out of play when they are betrothed at an early age to people chosen for them.  After Matilde's husband brutally attacks her, she runs away and seeks asylum within the sheltering walls of Heinrich's castle. There, the attraction is almost immediate, and you are reminded of a "Henry and Eleanor" type relationship, as they rush headlong into an affair they know might bring excommunication and all the political chess pieces falling to the floor.What they don't know is the secret that both Heinrich's mother, Agnes (the Holy Roman Empress), and Matilde's mother, Beatrice, know - and that is, about the holy relics (the Holy Spear, and Christ's blood) and a prophecy spoken by Charlemagne about his heir-to-be. As the two young people wind their way towards obtaining divorces, they are thwarted at every turn by Ildebrando de Soana, the man who engineered papal elections, and orchestrated the couple's marriages, all with his own agenda of control over the entire empire.Matilde emerges as a powerful young woman at a time when most women were viewed as chattel, as disposable pawns. Her character is bold, strong, believable, and Byrne develops her in a way that you are completely satisfied with her journey, even wanting more, as if you were following behind her like a shadow reliving the true history of Matilde's life. Byrne notes in her author notes that very little is actually known about these people, the medieval records are scant, but her ability to tell this story makes you feel that you are reading the actual historical facts. This book goes beyond just mere storytelling, which is a hallmark to the author's skill with words.I am eagerly awaiting the next in this series to continue following Matilde and Heinrich on their journey. This is a classic historical literary book that will be talked about for generations, a book worthy of praise for all lovers of rich, detailed historical stories. If a book could get ten stars, then this is one of them!

About the Author

Currently based in the UK, with her family, cat, and dog, Lara Byrne is passionate about travel. During summer and the Christmas breaks, you will find her in remote villages or buzzing cities in Italy, France, and Germany, climbing to remote castle ruins or admiring the grace of a grandiose medieval cathedral. In her free time, she finds balance through yoga and walks, peace listening to the sound of the sea, and earthy joy sipping wines and sampling good food. 
Obsessed with history since childhood, after spending too long in a corporate career, Lara took redundancy to follow her dream: turning the period and characters she loves into stories. 

Her debut novel
Lotharingia made it to the shortlist of the 2020 Page Turner Awards, was Best World Historical Fiction at the HFC Book of the Year Award, and is a Historical Novel Society 2022 Editor's Choice.

Lara's fiction brings to light the larger-than-life personalities and political dramas that marked the history of the Holy Roman Empire in the middle ages. Her approach of thorough research paired with artistic licence delivers a blend of romance, political intrigue, religious mystery, and dynastic drama, rediscovering some of the extraordinary women, who changed the course of European history at the turn of the first millennium.
If you enjoyed
Lotharingia, you will be happy to know that Lara is writing the sequel! The Road to Canossa is due to be released in 2022. Sign up to Lara's mailing list at for updates on its publication.
Lara is also on: 
  • GoodReads:
  • Bookbub:
  • Tweets as @larafbyrne

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B094G4XPB3
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ May 28, 2021
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 3065 KB
  • Simultaneous device usage ‏ : ‎ Unlimited
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Sticky notes ‏ : ‎ On Kindle Scribe
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 432 pages
  • Customer Reviews:
    3.9 3.9 out of 5 stars 200 ratings

About the author

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Thank you for your interest in my author page. It is great to meet you!

History, especially ancient and medieval, has always been my passion. There was, after all, a castle in my village, which one day will become the setting of one of my novels. When I was little, I loved reading about the great men and the occasional great women of history, and the moment I finished a book my mind would start journeys of its own, turning historical figures into the heroes and heroines of stories.

Lotharingia and The Road to Canossa, part of the Comitissa of Tuscany series, are a blend of romance, Machiavellian political intrigue, and mystery. They whisk you away to medieval Europe, introducing you to some fascinating historical characters who deserve to be better known, including some trailblazing women who changed European history at the turn of the first millennium.

Lotharingia won the 2021 HFC Book of the Year contest in the World Historical Fiction Category, was shortlisted for the Page Turner Awards and is a Historical Novel Society Editor's Choice. It has climbed the charts, making it to #1 on multiple Amazon Best Seller lists in the UK, Canada and Australia, and being selected by Amazon Prime in the UK and Australia.

Lotharingia's sequel, The Road to Canossa, released in late March 2023, has topped the Amazon US Best Sellers chart in multiple categories.

Sign up to my mailing list, or follow me on Amazon and Bookbub for updates on the release of the third volume of the Comitissa series.

Visit my website for your free copy of 'The Keeper', a Judge's Favourite at the Ink & Insights award. You can also subscribe to my mailing list for insights into my historical research and the lives of my characters, as well as the odd Italy/Germany/France travel tip!

You find me at:


Twitter: @larafbyrne


Thank you for your time and happy reading!

Customer reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5
200 global ratings

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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and engaging
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