History in France, part 1. Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of England.

As this week celebrates women, I thought I’d do a quick item about Eleanor of Aquitaine, one of my favourite characters, and Duchess of Aquitaine, the part of France where I live. She was undoubtedly the most powerful, wealthy, eligible and charismatic woman of her time.

Eleanor (often spelt Alienor in French) was born probably in Poitiers, but it may have been Bordeaux or nearby, in 1122.  Her father was the Duke of Aquitaine and, because her mother and brother both died  (at nearby Talmont – well worth a visit if you are in this area*), she inherited the title of Duchess.

She was well-educated and very talented in many areas; she was extremely lively and energetic, beautiful, and enjoyed robust health throughout her life.  She was an avid supporter of many of the Arts as well as of the famous Second Crusade.

Louis VII of France

She married King Louis VII of France in 1137 when she was 15 – plenty old enough for that era.  She bore him two daughters, but soon after the second birth she demanded an annulment of her marriage on the grounds of consanguinity.  This was eventually granted and, only eight weeks later, she married Prince Henry of England, almost 10 years her junior, who soon became Henry II of England.  The fact she was even more closely related to Henry seemed to be by-the-by!  As the mother of the two Princesses of France, the wife of the King of England and Duchess of a massive part of France, she was hugely powerful and influential.

eleanor_of_aquitaine EleanorofAquitaine

She bore Henry 8 children and theirs was at first a happy union. They eventually fell out and Henry imprisoned her in 1173 for allegedly helping their son, Prince Henry, in a revolt against the throne.  She remained in prison for almost 16 years till Henry II’s death in 1189, when her son Richard I (later nicknamed The Lionheart) came to the throne and instantly had her released.

Eleanor died at the age of 82, immensely old for that time, having outlived all but two of her children.  She is buried at Fontevrault in the Loire area.

* the Chateau de Taillebourg, also in this area, was beseiged by Richard I and is well worth a visit

Click here for Marie Curie

Click here for “How to read Art”

Click here for Tonnay Boutonne

Click here for history part 6

Catherine Broughton is a novelist, an aritst and a poet.  Her books are available from Amazon and Kindle, or can be ordered from most leading book stores and libraries.  Her web site http://turquoisemoon.co.uk is a delightful collection of her sketches and entertaining stories and blogs from all over the world.

For more about Eleanor:-

http://www.eleanorofaquitaine.net/Eleanor.html

http://womenshistory.about.com/od/medbritishqueens/p/eleanor_aq.htm

Posted on 09/03/2013 by Catherine
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  • To see Eleanor’s life apprised in one page always seems miraculous. That you live in her part of the world is intriguing. Have you toured Fontevrauld and seen her gisant?

    In writing and illustrating her biographical fiction, I began with her girlhood and find myself finishing book three when she has worked through the Second Crusade to leave on her own ship. On her 25th spring she takes the voyage west. My one pager on the famous woman is at eleanorofaquitaine.net.

    • Thanks for this, Mark. Yes, I have seen her gisant in Fontevrault. I got lots of responses to the article. It seems she is a popular lady! Can I puit a link to your book at the bottom of the article ?

    • Thanks for this, Mark. Actually, I did reply ages ago but for some reason it didn’t show up. Yes I have seen Eleanor’s gisant – interesting, isn’t it ? I have looked at your link – excellent.

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