Eleanor of Aquitaine's extraordinary life seems more likely to be found in the pages of fiction. Proud daughter of a distinguished French dynasty, she married the king of France, Louis VII, then the king of England, Henry II, and gave birth to two sons who rose to take the English throne--Richard the Lionheart and John.Read more...
Eleanor of Aquitaine's extraordinary life seems more likely to be found in the pages of fiction. Proud daughter of a distinguished French dynasty, she married the king of France, Louis VII, then the king of England, Henry II, and gave birth to two sons who rose to take the English throne--Richard the Lionheart and John. Renowned for her beauty, hungry for power, headstrong, and unconventional, Eleanor traveled on crusades, acted as regent for Henry II and later for Richard, incited rebellion, endured a fifteen-year imprisonment, and as an elderly widow still wielded political power with energy and enthusiasm.
This gripping biography is the definitive account of the most important queen of the Middle Ages. Ralph Turner, a leading historian of the twelfth century, strips away the myths that have accumulated around Eleanor--the "black legend" of her sexual appetite, for example--and challenges the accounts that relegate her to the shadows of the kings she married and bore. Turner focuses on a wealth of primary sources, including a collection of Eleanor's own documents not previously accessible to scholars, and portrays a woman who sought control of her own destiny in the face of forceful resistance. A queen of unparalleled appeal, Eleanor of Aquitaine retains her power to fascinate even 800 years after her death.
- ISBN-13: 9780300119114
- ISBN-10: 0300119119
- Publisher: Yale Univ Pr
- Publish Date: June 2009
- Page Count: 395
- Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.85 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 40.
- Review Date: 2009-03-30
- Reviewer: Staff
The self-confident and power-seeking Eleanor of Aquitaine (1124–1204) was heir to France's largest duchy. Eleanor became queen of France through her marriage at 13 to the future Louis VII. But Louis's indecisiveness during the Second Crusade and Eleanor's forthright support of her uncle the prince of Antioch's strategy over Louis's provoked the dissolution of her 15-year marriage. She quickly remarried a younger man, the future Henry II, 12th-century Europe's most powerful monarch. She bore him nine children while acting as regent during Henry's long absences in his reign's crucial early years. But Henry's interventions in her own realm of Aquitaine drove Eleanor to urge her three eldest sons to rebel against their father. After Henry's death, she emerged from 15 years of house arrest to play a significant political role in the reigns of her sons Richard I and John. Despite repetitious prose and a somewhat off-putting academic format, Turner's (King John) work is highly readable and informative, fleshing out the adventurous life and times of a spirited, beautiful and ambitious political animal who paid a heavy price for defying medieval expectations of women. Illus., maps. (May)