“The Kaiserin is pleased to welcome into her court Lothar von Süpplingenburg, Duke of Saxony,” cried the herald as Lothar strode to meet Matilda in her palace in Mainz.
Lothar knelt at the feet of the white clad and heavily veiled Matilda, “Meine Kaiserin! I grieve with thee.”
“Danke, mein Herr.”
“The Kaiser and I disagreed on many things, but he was a still a good man,” confessed Lothar.
“And now you will succeed him,” observed Matilda astutely.
“The Kurfürstenkollegium has not voted on that, meine Dame.”
“They will and they will choose you. No doubt messengers are already dispatched from London to demand my presence now that the official period of mourning is over.”
“Yet you still wear the white of a mourning Kaiserin.”
“My heart is my heart. Though our marriage was sometimes strained at times, especially after the death of the Prinzessin, I still love him. I will never love another as I loved Heinrich,” declared Matilda softly.
Lothar rose and met her eyes, “I kissed you to seal your marriage contract in London.”
“I remember. I did not like it.”
Lothar put his arms around her and kissed her seductively, “Perhaps that will change your mind.”
“Why do you do this? You are married.”
“A political marriage. There is talk that many of the Kurfürsten will vote to make you sovereign Kaiserin over the empire. You would be Imperatrix in all things and with absolute power over the empire.”
“The pope would never confirm such an appointment. The Church believes women to be inferior.”
“And what do you believe, meine dame?”
“That I am inferior to no man. I am Imperatrix.”
Lothar kissed her, “And you wonder why I kissed you? Why I would seduce you to my bed? You are power, you are the empire. A man of ambition knows the power to be gained by securing you for himself.”
Matilda kissed him back astutely, “Such security would no doubt convince many Kurfürsten to grant you all the power you desire.”
“Does that mean you accept my proposition?” slithered Lothar.
“What would you give me if I said yes? How much are you willing to pay for the support of the Kurfürsten who favour me as Imperatrix?”
“Take me to your bed right now, put aside the white of mourning and I will tell you all my plans!”
“And your wife? I will not be your whore, Lothar.”
“That takes time and a man of ambition must never be trusted to keep his word, especially when it comes to the honour of a woman,” smiled Matilda as she broke his embrace and stepped away from him. “You think me a fool, don’t you, mein Herr? You think that since I mourn my husband that no sense remains to me, that I will gladly take any man of power to my bed in hopes of forgetting my sorrows. You count me desperate for the pleasures of the bed chamber and indiscriminate about my choice. You would play me a fool, take my honour today and then throw me aside after being able to boast you did so.
“But I am not a fool, Lothar, and your kiss still disgusts me. As a woman I do not desire you. As Imperatrix I desire you even less. Go back to your wife, mein Herr. Go back to Saxony. If the Kurfürstenkollegium chooses you over me then so be it. I will return to my father’s court if I must and obey him as his heir. I will not prostitute myself here—not for you, not for the imperial crown, not for any man!” swore Imperatrix Matilda.
“You do not know what you are missing,” boasted Lothar, “My bed is far better than your precious Heinrich’s!”
“Your bed is filled, mein Herr. I will not do to your wife what was once done to me. For I am truly royal. I am granddaughter to William, Duke of Normandy and King of England. I am granddaughter to Princess Margaret of Wessex to whom the Church prays as a saint. My father rules England and my mother’s brother rules Scotland. You are but a prince of the empire, one of many. But I am Imperatrix!”
Excerpted from "Empress Matilda of England (The Legendary Women of World History Book 7)" by Laurel A. Rockefeller. Copyright © 2017 by Laurel A. Rockefeller. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.