Gitte Nomansdaughter is a 16th century cutpurse. Her mother, who worked in a tavern, left her at an orphanage in Antwerp with a cameo around her neck. At the age of thirteen, she is sold to a travelling apothecary who swindles market-goers. Gitte steals for him and becomes proficient at her trade, until one day she is caught and sentenced to the gallows. City officer Johannes recognizes the arms on the cameo: they are the duke Almendraje’s, an advisor to the Spanish king. The city official is able to save her from the noose in the nick of time. In return for her life, Gitte is ordered to work for the Dutch Prince of Orange, go to Seville and spy on her Spanish father.
In the bustling city of Seville, Gitte convinces the Duke of Almendraje that she is the long-lost daughter that he fathered in Flanders. She is accepted into his home, even by the duke’s wife who always wished for a daughter. Gitte even has servants now and finds herself in a completely different world, living in the lap of luxury. The longer Gitte stays in Seville, the more she grows to love Spain and her Spanish family. She is very reluctant to spy on her father, especially after she falls head over heels in love with the young and handsome nobleman Don Domingo…
GALLOWS MAID takes place during the time that Spain ruled the seas and was preparing an armada to invade England.
GALLOWS MAID has been translated into French (as ‘Margot d’Anvers’), German (as ‘Galgenmädchen’) and South-African (as ‘Galgmeisie’). The Flemish newspaper De Standaard called it a ‘real page turner with innumerable and thrilling twists’. It has not been published in English yet.
Artist Phebe Vanmol made an English language youtube video about the novel.
Flanders Literature produced an English translation an extract of the first chapter. You can read it below.