Kilkenny, 1324: two women, Alice Kyteler, the wealthiest woman in Leinster, and Petronilla of Meath, her maid, stand accused of witchcraft. One is burnt at the stake, another flees. This event finds particular resonance in today's world of conspiracy theory, uncertainty and credulity, in which once more the individual is subject to the pressures of Church and state. In medieval fourteenth-century Ireland the powers of light and darkness, attuned to the glories of god and to his counterpart the devil, are rife. Alice, outspoken daughter of a wealthy Flemish banker, has had four husbands, and is beset by rivalry and the gossip of a medieval Anglo-Norman town. Her beautiful maid Petronilla is the child of an itinerant shoemaker, her lover Sir Arnaud le Poer is seneschal and lord of south Leinster. Her nemesis Richard de Ledrede, an English Fransciscan, scholar, poet and now bishop of Ossory, is determined to restore clerical power and raise taxes to restore the dilapidated cathedral in Kilkenny. Obsessed with witchcraft, he finds ample fuel in the machinations of the wilful widow Kytler. Outside the city walls the native Irish are resurgent after 150 years of dispossession.
The Devil to Pay, the story of Alice and Petronilla, erupts from this remarkable tapestry. Hugh Ryan creates a vivid panorama of a pivotal era in Irish history. As individuals play out their lives through a harsh tension between power and desire, the tensions of Norman and Gael, native and settler, male and female, find dramatic realization in this beautifully expressive, riveting tale.
The Devil to Pay: The Story of Alice and Petronilla
- Product Code: The Lilliput Press Ltd
- Availability: In Stock