Tuesday, October 20, 2015

She Wolf and Queen Crusader - Eleanor of Aquitaine

Being a woman in the 12th century was fraught with turbulence. Arranged marriages for political reasons, the duty of bearing sons, ever constant warfare, intrigues of courtly life, and dangers of childbirth. These were the everyday fears women faced, especially Eleanor of Aquitaine. 

One of the most powerful women of her time, she was the daughter of the Duke of Aquitaine and Count of Poitou. Not only was she a woman of great beauty, but she inherited immense wealth, making her one of the most sought-after women of her time. 

When she was fifteen, she married Louis VII of France, a young price of her own age. When his father died, they were crowned King and Queen. They reined for fifteen years with Eleanor being the smarter one with a stronger, more vocal personality. During that time, Eleanor proved semi-fruitful. She provided her husband with two daughters, but no sons. 

Eleanor was not afraid of war. In fact, she convinced her husband to initiate a crusade into the Holy Land and rode proudly at the front of their army. Her failure to provide her husband was one reason their marriage failed. It was annulled and Eleanor's vast dowry lands in Aquitaine and Poitiers were lawfully returned to her. She was thirty years old, still beautiful, still wealthy, and highly desirable. She soon came to the attention of Henry Plantaganet, the grandson of England's King Henry I. He was twelve years younger than Eleanor when they married. Her lands brought power and greater wealth to England, even more than that of her ex-husband.  

Despite their stormy marriage, Eleanor provide herself a very good breeder, providing her husband with several sons, two of which would be destined to become English kings. All the while, she ruled her own lands and was a strong participant in English politics. Because of her love for the written word, she helped give light to Courtly Love. 

As the years passed, her marriage deteriorated. She became a great adversary to her husband and even encouraged and supported her sons in a revolt against him. All their best efforts failed and her husband captured and arrested her. He kept her in custody in strict, less comfortable conditions in a monastery at Fontevrault, Anjou. She spent what remained of her life there and died at the age of 82 in the year 1204. 

Eleanor's Tomb

In an exciting new trilogy, Author Elizabeth Chadwick brings to life Eleanor of Aquitaine. The first book, The Summer Queen, covers her life through the 2nd crusade to the annullment of her marriage to Louis VII, king of France. You can read my review at The Great Historical Fiction BlogThe Winter Crown is the second in this tremendously vivid and engaging trilogy.

As Queen of England, Eleanor has a new cast of enemies―including the king. Eleanor has more than fulfilled her duty as Queen of England-she has given her husband, Henry II, heirs to the throne and has proven herself as a mother and ruler. But Eleanor needs more than to be a bearer of children and a deputy; she needs command of the throne. As her children grow older, and her relationship with Henry suffers from scandal and infidelity, Eleanor realizes the power she seeks won't be given willingly. She must take it for herself. But even a queen must face the consequences of treason... In this long-anticipated second novel in the Eleanor of Aquitaine trilogy, bestselling author Elizabeth Chadwick evokes a royal marriage where love and hatred are intertwined, and the battle over power is fought not with swords, but deception.

Elizabeth Chadwick continues this spellbinding tale of one of the most renowned queens of medieval times - Eleanor of Aquitaine. Her story has endured over the centuries, and has been immortalized in movies and books, but never before has there been a more indepth recreation of her life than this trilogy by this most beloved author. The Winter Crown picks up where The Summer Queen leaves us - Eleanor is newly married to the king of England. Full of conflict, Chadwick brings to life their tumultuous marriage clearly shows the strength and tenacity of this famous queen. 

Although it is not necessary to read the trilogy in order, I highly recommend you do so to get the full history of this fascinating queen. Readers are eagerly awaiting the third book, The Autumn Throne, which is currently in the writing stage - it will definitely be worth the wait! 
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Demetrius said...

Alison Weir?

Roberta Surber said...

It is factually incorrect to say that E of A spent the rest of her life as a prisoner. Her son Richard released her when he became king, and she spent the last years of her life as one would expect of a woman of her energy and character. She even went on crusade again with Richard!

Daniella Recavarren said...

Roberta is correct. Let me add that after loosing her beloved son Richard Queen Alienor lost two daughters (Matilda and Joanna)and at 80 years old she travelled in the middle of winter to the court of her daughter Leonor of Castille. There she chose her grand-daughter Blanche as bride for the Dauphin of France. She had been herself Queen of France and new the qualities necessary to be one. Blanche to this day is regarded as one of the greatest queens of France.
Alienor went back to Fontevraud Abbey and her last years were spent trying to counsel her son John, to no avail. Mercifully, she did not see the destruction of the kingdom she had built with Henry.