"The Marriage of Meggotta" is a novelization of the true story of Meggotta de Burgh and Richard de Clare, who were married as children in 1232 in order to protect their interests from the political upheaval caused by King Henry III's accusations against Meggotta's father Hubert de Burgh, Earl of Kent. Meggotta was the daughter of Hubert and his wife Margaret, sister of King Alexander II of Scotland. Richard was the heir to the Earldoms of Hertford and Gloucester, which would make him a powerful man when he came of age. In the meanwhile, he was given to Hubert to be raised as Meggotta's foster brother and future husband. The ambitions of a fickle and immature King, manipulated by his treasurer Peter des Rivaulx, plunge England into war and exact a terrible cost on the young couple.
Edith Parteger could not know what Meggotta and Richard said or felt for one another, though it seems they did intend to honor their marriage vows well into their teens. She uses the situation of these two young people, buffeted by forces beyond their control, to present the human side of the complex political events that led to war between King Henry and Richard, Earl Marshal and Earl of Pembroke (young Richard's uncle), a situation instigated by the King's dubious accusations of treason and ill treatment of the Earl of Kent. Also playing out in the background is the romance between the King's sister Eleanor and Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, another love match that is threatened by political realities.
As Eleanor explains, "marriages are about lands and alliances and status". To stand in the way of family ambitions is to court disaster, at least among the nobility. But people do fall in love, as is natural, and that is inconvenient, most of all for the lovers. Edith Parteger's great success in "The Marriage of Meggotta" is her ability to portray the emotional lives of both young and old characters. Hubert's emotional defeat as an old man is affecting, as is Richard's passion and frustration as a young man. It's curious that for all we admire brave and beautiful Meggotta and her formidable mother Margaret, it is the men whom Parteger understands best and whom she gives the greatest depth. The men had the power, and, perhaps, as the author was a woman, they fascinated her most. "The Marriage of Meggotta" is a touching and perceptive look back at 13th century England.