The Bloodletter's Daughter
A Novel of Old Bohemia
When the true story of insanity by an illegitimate child of a Hapsburg caused his father to lose his crown to his brother, Linda Lafferty retells the tale in a haunting page-tuner, The Bloodletter's Daughter.
The Hapsburg dynasty was legendary as rulers of The Holy Roman Empire, Germany, Sicily, Naples, Spain, Portugal, Hungary-Croatia, Bohemia which became the Czech Republic, and numerous principalities controlling much of Europe.
Whatever power the family possessed also created a situation for scandal. With a male heir being a concern for all rulers in early 1600s, an illegitimate son could be just as valued as one born into royalty. However, no one at that time had any idea about how to handle a mental illness.
King Rudolf II had only one child, Don Julius who was the illegitimate son of his mistress. With his brother, Maximillian threatening a take over, Rudolf felt that it was important for his son to possibly be his heir. However, the spoiled son probably suffered from schizophrenia and threatened the citizens of Vienna.
A priest suggested a possible solution to send the son to Prague and that with the assistance of the doctor, the son could be healed with the priest's guidance. By this time, Rudolf was beginning to feel desperate so he agreed with the condition that the son would not be released of his blood without his father's direct permission.
As the out-of-control man-boy prince entered the Bohemian city of Cesky Krumlov, the entire town was fearful. When a local barber who also was a bloodletter became involved, the prince began to leave world of insanity behind. This was a direct result of the bloodletter's daughter and her influence on the prince.
The story centers on Marketa and her challenges of the time period. Her mother runs a bath house where she is expected to work bathing men and to entice them while her heart is to follow her father's path as a bloodletter releasing the poisons from the body. Unfortunately in this time period, Marketa would never be able to pursue this male profession.
Lafferty bases her tale on the real events smoothly building upon the relationships between Marketa and those surrounding her and turns the facts into a gripping tale. With the smoothness of an experienced storyteller, The Bloodletter's Daughter, this is a tale that inhabits your every thought long after the last page.