See also

Family of Henry II + and Eleanor of AQUITAINE


Family of Henry II + and Eleanor of AQUITAINE

Husband: Henry II + (1133-1189)
Wife: Eleanor of AQUITAINE (1121-1204)
Children: William IX (1153- )
Henry (1155-1183)
Richard I (1157-1199)
Geoffrey II (1158-1186)
Eleanor + (1162-1214)
Matilda (c. 1164- )
Joan (c. 1166- )
John + (1166-1216)
Marriage 18 May 1152 Bordeaux, Gironde, France

Husband: Henry II +


Henry II +

Name: Henry II +
Sex: Male
Father: Geoffrey V + PLANTAGENET (1113-1151)
Mother: Matilda + (1102-1169)
Birth 5 Mar 1133 LeMans, Sarthe, France
Occupation King of England
Title frm 1151 to 1153 (age 17-20) Count of Mortain
Title frm 1151 to 1189 (age 17-56) Duke of Normandy
Title frm 1151 to 1189 (age 17-56) Count of Anjou
Title frm 1151 to 1189 (age 17-56) Count of Maine
Title frm 1152 to 1189 (age 18-56) Duke of Aquitane
Title frm 1152 to 1153 (age 18-20) Count of Poitiers
Title frm 1154 to 1189 (age 20-56) King of England
Death 6 Jul 1189 (age 56) Chinon, Indre-de-Loire/France

Wife: Eleanor of AQUITAINE


Eleanor of AQUITAINE

Name: Eleanor of AQUITAINE
Sex: Female
Father: William X + (1099-1137)
Mother: Aenor + of CHATELLERAULT (1103-1130)
Birth 1121 Chateau de Belin, Bordeaux. Aquitaine
Occupation Duchess of Aquitaine
Title frm 9 Apr 1137 to 1 Apr 1204 (age 15-83) Duchess of Aquitaine
Title frm 9 Apr 1137 to 1 Apr 1204 (age 15-83) Countess of Poitiers
Title frm 1 Aug 1137 to 21 Mar 1152 (age 15-31) Queen Consort of the Franks
Title frm 25 Oct 1154 to 6 Jul 1189 (age 32-68) Queen Consort of England
Death 31 Mar 1204 (age 82-83) Poitiers, Poitou, France
Burial Abbaye de Fontebrault, Fontrevrault, France

Child 1: William IX

Name: William IX
Sex: Male
Birth 17 Aug 1153
Occupation Count of Poitiers
Death "4/1156"
Cause: seizure
Burial Reading Abbey, Reading, Berkshire, England

Child 2: Henry


Spouse: Marguerite of FRANCE

Name: Henry
Sex: Male
Spouse: Marguerite of FRANCE (1157-1197)
Birth 28 Feb 1155
Occupation King of England
Title King of England
Death 5 Jun 1183 (age 28)
Cause: dysentery

Child 3: Richard I

Name: Richard I
Sex: Male
Nickname: Richard the Lionhearted
Birth 8 Sep 1157
Occupation King of England
Death 6 Apr 1199 (age 41)

Child 4: Geoffrey II

Name: Geoffrey II
Sex: Male
Birth 23 Sep 1158
Death 19 Aug 1186 (age 27)
Burial Notre-Dame-l'Eau, France

Child 5: Eleanor +


Spouse: Alfonso VIII + SANCHEZ

Name: Eleanor +
Sex: Female
Spouse: Alfonso VIII + SANCHEZ (1155-1214)
Birth 13 Oct 1162 Domfront, Orne, Normandy, France
Occupation Princess of England
Title Princess of England
Death 25 Oct 1214 (age 52) Las Huelgas, Burgos, Spain
Burial Monastery de las Huelgas, Borgos, Spain

Child 6: Matilda

Name: Matilda
Sex: Female
Birth 1164 (est)

Child 7: Joan

Name: Joan
Sex: Female
Birth 1166 (est)

Child 8: John +

Name: John +
Sex: Male
Spouse 1: Isabella + of ANGOULEME (1188-1246)
Spouse 2: Clemence + of BOTILLER (1175- )
Birth 24 Dec 1166 Kings Manor House, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England
Occupation King of England
Title King of England
Death 19 Oct 1216 (age 49) Newark, Nottinghamshire, England
Burial Worcester Cathedral, Worcestershire, England

Note on Husband: Henry II +

Henry II (5 March 1133 – 6 July 1189) ruled as King of England (1154–1189), Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Count of Nantes, Lord of Ireland and, at various times, controlled parts of Wales, Scotland and western France. Henry, the great-grandson of William the Conqueror, was the first of the House of Plantagenet to rule England. Henry was the first to use the title "King of England" (as opposed to "King of the English").


He is also known as Henry Curtmantle or Curtmantel (French: Henri Court-manteau) and Henry Fitz-Empress.


Early life and descentHenry II was born in Le Mans, France, on 5 March 1133.[1] His father, Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou, son of Fulk of Jerusalem, was also Count of Maine. His mother, Empress Matilda, was a claimant to the English throne as the daughter of Henry I (reigned 1100–1135), son of William The Conqueror, Duke of Normandy. His own claim to the throne was strengthened by his descent from both the English Saxon kings and the kings of Scotland through his maternal grandmother Matilda of Scotland, whose father was Malcolm III of Scotland and whose mother was Margaret of Wessex (St. Margaret of Scotland), granddaughter of Edmund Ironside.


He spent his childhood in his father's land of Anjou. At the age of nine, Robert of Gloucester took him to England, where he received education from Master Matthew at Bristol, with the assistance of Adelard of Bath and possibly Geoffrey of Monmouth. In 1144, he was returned to Normandy where his education was continued by William of Conches.[2]


On 18 May 1152, at Poitiers,[3] at the age of 19, Henry married Eleanor of Aquitaine. The wedding was "without the pomp or ceremony that befitted their rank,"[4] partly because Eleanor's prior marriage to Louis VII of France had been annulled only two months previously. Their relationship, always stormy, eventually disintegrated: after Eleanor encouraged her children to rebel against their father in 1173, Henry had her placed under house arrest, where she remained for fifteen years.[5]


Henry and Eleanor had eight children, William, Henry, Richard, Geoffrey, John, Matilda, Eleanor, and Joan. William died in infancy. In the custom of the Capetian Kings of France, whose heirs apparent were crowned during their own lifetime in order to avoid succession disputes, Henry was crowned as joint king when he came of age. However, because he was never king in his own right, he is known to history as "Henry the Young King", rather than Henry III. As the king's sons matured, it was expected that Henry would inherit the throne from his father, Richard his mother's possessions, Geoffrey would have Brittany through marriage, and John would be Lord of Ireland. However, fate would ultimately decide much differently.


It has been suggested by John Speed's 1611 book, History of Great Britain, that another son, Philip, was born to the couple. Speed's sources no longer exist, but Philip would presumably have died in early infancy.[6]


Several sources record Henry's appearance. They all agree that he was very strong, energetic and surpassed his peers athletically.


...he was strongly built, with a large, leonine head, freckle fiery face and red hair cut short. His eyes were grey and we are told that his voice was harsh and cracked, possibly because of the amount of open-air exercise he took. He would walk or ride until his attendants and courtiers were worn out and his feet and legs were covered with blisters and sores... He would perform all athletic feats.


...the lord king has been red-haired so far, except that the coming of old age and grey hair has altered that colour somewhat. His height is medium, so that neither does he appear great among the small, nor yet does he seem small among the great... curved legs, a horseman's shins, broad chest, and a boxer's arms all announce him as a man strong, agile and bold... he never sits, unless riding a horse or eating... In a single day, if necessary, he can run through four or five day-marches and, thus foiling the plots of his enemies, frequently mocks their plots with surprise sudden arrivals... Always are in his hands bow, sword, spear and arrow, unless he be in council or in books.


A man of reddish, freckled complexion, with a large, round head, grey eyes that glowed fiercely and grew bloodshot in anger, a fiery countenance and a harsh, cracked voice. His neck was poked

forward slightly from his shoulders, his chest was broad and square, his arms strong and powerful. His body was stocky, with a pronounced tendency toward fatness, due to nature rather than self-indulgence – which he tempered with exercise.


Like his grandfather, Henry I of England, Henry II had an outstanding knowledge of the law. A talented linguist and excellent Latin speaker, he would sit on councils in person whenever possible. He dressed casually except when tradition dictated otherwise and ate a sparing diet.[7]


According to contemporary chronicler of court gossip Walter Map, Henry was modest and mixed with all classes easily. "He does not take upon himself to think high thoughts, his tongue never swells with elated language; he does not magnify himself as more than man".[8] His generosity was well-known and he employed a Templar to distribute one tenth of all the food brought to the royal court amongst his poorest subjects.


Henry also had a good sense of humour and was never upset at being the butt of the joke. Once while he sat sulking and occupying himself with needlework, a courtier suggested that such behaviour was to be expected from a descendant of the bastard son of a tanner's daughter (referring to his great-grandfather William the Conqueror being the son of Herleva, daughter of Fulbert a tanner from the Norman town of Falaise). The king rocked with laughter and even explained the

joke to those who did not immediately grasp it.[9]


"His memory was exceptional: he never failed to recognise a man he had once seen, nor to remember anything which might be of use. More deeply learned than any king of his time in the western world".[7]


In contrast, the king's temper has been written about. His actions against Thomas Becket are evidence of his blinding temper, along with his conflict with William I of Scotland.[10]


.Henry's father, Geoffrey Plantagenet, held rich lands as a vassal from Louis VII of France. Maine and Anjou were therefore Henry's by birthright, amongst other lands in Western France.[4] By maternal claim, Normandy was also to be his. From a contemporary perspective, however, the most notable inheritance Henry received from his mother was a claim to the English throne. Granddaughter of William the Conqueror, Empress Matilda was to be queen regnant of England, but her throne was usurped by her cousin, Stephen of England. Henry's efforts to restore the royal line to his own family would create a dynasty spanning three centuries and thirteen kings.


Henry's marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine placed him firmly in the ascendancy.[4] His plentiful lands were added to his new wife's possessions, giving him control of Aquitaine and Gascony. The riches of the markets and vineyards in these regions, combined with Henry's already plentiful holdings, made Henry the most powerful vassal in France.


Stephen and Henry discuss across the River Thames how to settle the succession of the English throne.Realising Henry's royal ambition was far from easily fulfilled; his mother had been pushing her claim for the crown for several years to no avail, finally retiring in 1147. It was 1147 when Henry had accompanied Matilda on an invasion of England. It soon failed due to lack of preparation,[4] but it made him determined that England was his mother's right, and so his own. He returned to England again between 1149 and 1150. On 22 May 1149 he was knighted by King David I of Scotland, his great uncle, at Carlisle.[11]


Early in January 1153, just months after his wedding, he crossed the Channel one more time. His fleet was 36 ships strong, transporting a force of 3,000 footmen and 140 horses.[12] Sources dispute whether he landed at Dorset or Hampshire, but it is known he entered a small village church. It was 6 January and the locals were observing the Festival of the Three Kings. The correlation between the festivities and Henry's arrival was not lost on them. "Ecce advenit dominator Dominus, et regnum in manu ejus", they exclaimed as the introit for their feast, "Behold the Lord the ruler cometh, and the Kingdom in his hand."[11]


Henry moved quickly and within the year he had secured his right to succession via the Treaty of Wallingford with Stephen of England. He was now, for all intents and purposes, in control of England. When Stephen died in October 1154, it was only a matter of time until Henry's treaty would bear fruit, and the quest that began with his mother would be ended. On 19 December 1154 he was crowned in Westminster Abbey, "By The Grace Of God, Henry II, King Of England".[11] He was thus the first to be crowned "King of England", as opposed to "King of the English."[13] Henry, a vassal of Louis VII, was now more powerful than the French king himself. Henry used the title Rex Angliae, Dux Normaniae et Aquitaniae et Comes Andigaviae (King of England, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, Count of Anjou).[14]


Shortly after his coronation, Henry sent an embassy to the newly elected Pope Adrian IV. Led by Bishop Arnold of Lisieux, the group of clerics requested authorisation for Henry to invade Ireland. Some historians suggest that this resulted in the papal bull Laudabiliter. Whether this donation is genuine or not, Edmund Curtis says, is one of "the great questions of history."[15] It is possible Henry acted under the influence of a "Canterbury plot," in which English ecclesiastics strove to dominate the Irish church.[16] However, Henry may have simply intended to secure Ireland as a lordship for his younger brother William.


William died soon after the plan was hatched and Ireland was ignored. It was not until 1166 that it came to the surface again. In that year, Dermot McMurrough, King of Leinster, was driven from his lands by Rory O'Conor, the High King of Ireland. Diarmait followed Henry to Aquitaine, seeking an audience. Henry promised to help him reassert control and made footmen, knights and nobles available for the cause. Their leader was a Welsh Norman, Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, nicknamed "Strongbow". In exchange for his loyalty, Diarmait offered Earl Richard his daughter Aoife (Eva) in marriage and made him heir to his kingdom.


The Normans quickly restored Diarmait to his kingdom, but it soon became apparent that Henry had not helped purely out of kindness, and was now worried that Strongbow and his Cambro-Norman supporters would become independent of him. In 1171 Henry arrived from France with an army and declared himself "Lord of Ireland". All of the Normans, along with many Irish princes, took oaths of homage to Henry by November, and he left after six months. He never returned, but in 1177 he named his youngest son, Prince John, as Lord of Ireland.


This process started 800 years of English overlordship on the island. At the Synod of Cashel in 1172 Church reforms were introduced. The 1175 Treaty of Windsor was agreed with King Rory O'Conor, but soon broke down.


In 1174, a rebellion spearheaded by his own sons was not Henry's biggest problem. An invasion force from Scotland, led by their king, William the Lion, was advancing from the North. To make matters worse, a Flemish armada was sailing for England, just days from landing. It seemed likely that the king's rapid growth was to be checked.[1]


Henry saw his predicament as a sign from God, that his treatment of Becket would be rewarded with defeat. He immediately did penance at Canterbury[1] for the Archbishop's fate and events took a turn for the better.


The hostile armada dispersed in the English Channel and headed back for the continent. Henry had avoided a Flemish invasion, but Scottish invaders were still raiding in the North. Henry sent his troops to meet the Scots at Alnwick, where the English scored a devastating victory. William was captured in the chaos, removing the figurehead for rebellion, and within months all the problem fortresses had been torn down. Southern Scotland was now completely dominated by Henry, another fief in his Angevin Empire, that now stretched from the Solway Firth almost to the Mediterranean and from the Somme to the Pyrenees. By the end of this crisis, and his sons' revolt, the king was "left stronger than ever before".[17]


During Stephen's reign, the barons in England had undermined Royal authority. Rebel castles were one problem, nobles avoiding military service was another. The new king immediately moved against the illegal fortresses that had sprung up during Stephen's reign, having them torn down.


To counter the problem of avoiding military service, scutage became common. This tax, which Henry's barons paid in lieu of military service, allowed the king to hire mercenaries. These hired troops were used to great effect by both Henry and his son Richard, and by 1159 the tax was central to the king's army and his authority over vassals.


Henry II's reign saw the establishment of Royal Magistrate courts.[18] This allowed court officials under authority of the Crown to adjudicate local disputes, reducing the workload on Royal courts proper and delivering justice with greater efficiency.


Henry also worked to make the legal system fairer. Trial by ordeal and trial by combat were still common in the 12th century. By the Assize of Clarendon in 1166, supplemented a decade later by the Assize of Northampton, a precursor to trial by jury was implemented. However, this group of "twelve lawful men," as the Assize commonly refers to it, provided a service more similar to a grand jury, alerting court officials to matters suitable for prosecution. Despite these reforms, trial by ordeal continued until the Fourth Council of the Lateran forbade the participation of the clergy in 1215 and trial by combat was still legal in England until 1819, albeit only rarely resorted to after the twelfth century. Nevertheless, Henry's support of juries was a great contribution to the country's social history and allowed for a smoother transition from ordeal to jury than was managed in other European nations where trial by inquisition and even torture became commonplace.


During Stephen's reign, the barons in England had undermined Royal authority. Rebel castles were one problem, nobles avoiding military service was another. The new king immediately moved against the illegal fortresses that had sprung up during Stephen's reign, having them torn down.


To counter the problem of avoiding military service, scutage became common. This tax, which Henry's barons paid in lieu of military service, allowed the king to hire mercenaries. These hired troops were used to great effect by both Henry and his son Richard, and by 1159 the tax was central to the king's army and his authority over vassals.


Henry II's reign saw the establishment of Royal Magistrate courts.[18] This allowed court officials under authority of the Crown to adjudicate local disputes, reducing the workload on Royal courts proper and delivering justice with greater efficiency.


Henry also worked to make the legal system fairer. Trial by ordeal and trial by combat were still common in the 12th century. By the Assize of Clarendon in 1166, supplemented a decade later by the Assize of Northampton, a precursor to trial by jury was implemented. However, this group of "twelve lawful men," as the Assize commonly refers to it, provided a service more similar to a grand jury, alerting court officials to matters suitable for prosecution. Despite these reforms, trial by ordeal continued until the Fourth Council of the Lateran forbade the participation of the clergy in 1215 and trial by combat was still legal in England until 1819, albeit only rarely resorted to after the twelfth century. Nevertheless, Henry's support of juries was a great contribution to the country's social history and allowed for a smoother transition from ordeal to jury than was managed in other European nations where trial by inquisition and even torture became commonplace.


Murder of Thomas Becket"What miserable drones and traitors have I nurtured and promoted in my household who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric!" were the words which sparked the darkest event in Henry's religious wranglings. This speech has translated into legend in the form of "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?"—a provocative statement which would perhaps have been just as riling to the knights and barons of his household at whom it was aimed as his actual words. Bitter at his old friend Becket, constantly thwarting his clerical constitutions, the king shouted in anger but possibly not with intent. However, four of Henry's knights, Reginald Fitzurse, Hugh de Morville (the Lord of Westmorland), William de Tracy, and Richard le Breton overheard their king's cries and decided to act on his words.


On 29 December 1170, they entered Canterbury Cathedral, finding Becket near the stairs to the crypt. They beat down the Archbishop, killing him with several blows. Becket's brains were scattered upon the ground with the words; "Let us go, this fellow will not be getting up again". Whatever the rights and wrongs, it certainly tainted Henry's later reign. For the remaining 20 years of his rule, he would personally regret the death of a man who "in happier times...had been a friend".[19]


Just three years later, Becket was canonised and revered as a martyr against secular interference in God's church; Pope Alexander III had declared Becket a saint. Plantagenet historian John Harvey believes "The martyrdom of Thomas Becket was a martyrdom which he had repeatedly gone out of his way to cannot but feel sympathy towards Henry".[19] Wherever the true intent and blame lie, it was yet another sacrifice to the ongoing war between church and state.


It is the common fate of sons to be misunderstood by their fathers, and of fathers to be unloved of their sons, but it has been the particular bane of the English throne.[20] ”


Henry's attempts to divide his lands amongst his numerous ambitious children, combined with his reluctance to cede his own power and entrust them with any real responsibility, fractured his family. In 1173, Young Henry and Richard revolted against their father, hoping to secure the power and lands they had been promised. While both Young Henry and Richard were relatively strong in France, they still lacked the manpower and experience to trouble their father unduly. The king crushed this first rebellion and exacted punishment. Richard, for example, lost half of the revenue allowed to him as Count of Poitou.[21]


In 1182, the Plantagenet children's aggression turned inward. Young Henry, Richard and Geoffrey all began fighting each other for their father's possessions on the continent. The situation was exacerbated by French rebels and the king of France, Philip Augustus. This was the most serious threat to come from within the family yet, and the king faced the dynastic tragedy of civil war. However, on 11 June 1183, Henry the Young King died. The uprising, which had been built around the prince, promptly collapsed and the remaining brothers returned to their individual lands. Henry quickly occupied the rebel region of Angoulême to keep the peace.[21]


The final battle between Henry's sons came in 1184. Geoffrey of Brittany and John of Ireland, the youngest brothers, had been promised Aquitaine, which belonged to now eldest brother Richard.[21] Geoffrey and John invaded but Richard, who was an accomplished military commander with over 10 years of experience by this time, expelled his brothers. The brothers would never again face each other in combat; Geoffrey died two years later, leaving only Richard and John.


The final thorn in Henry's side would be an alliance between his eldest surviving son, Richard, and his greatest rival, Philip Augustus. John had become Henry's favourite son and Richard had begun to fear he was being written out of the king's inheritance.[21] In summer 1189, Richard and Philip invaded Henry's heartland of power, Anjou. The unlikely allies took northwest Touraine, attacked Le Mans and overran Maine and Tours. Defeated, Henry II met his opponents and agreed to all their demands, including paying homage to Philip for all his French possessions.


Weak, ill, and deserted by all but an illegitimate son, Geoffrey, Archbishop of York, Henry died at Chinon on 6 July 1189. His legitimate children, chroniclers record him saying, were "the real bastards".[22] The victorious Prince Richard later paid his respects to Henry's corpse as it travelled to Fontevraud Abbey, upon which, according to Roger of Wendover, 'blood flowed from the nostrils of the deceased, as if...indignant at the presence of the one who was believed to have caused his death'. The Prince, Henry's eldest surviving son and conqueror, was crowned "by the grace of God, King Richard I of England" at Westminster on 1 September 1189.


Henry had a number of mistresses, including Rosamund Clifford. One of the daughters of Eleanor's ex-husband Louis VII, Alys, originally sent to Henry's court to marry Richard, was also said to be Henry's mistress.


Henry also had illegitimate children. While they were not valid claimants, their royal blood made them potential problems for Henry's legitimate successors.[21] William Longespée was one such child. He was the son of Henry's mistress Ida de Tosny. He remained largely loyal and contented with the lands and wealth afforded to him as a royal bastard. Geoffrey, Bishop of Lincoln, Archbishop of York, on the other hand, was seen as a possible thorn in the side of Richard I of England.[21] Geoffrey had been the only son to attend Henry II on his deathbed, after even the king's favourite son, John Lackland, deserted him.[17] Richard forced him into the clergy at York, thus ending his secular ambitions.[21] Another son, Morgan was elected to the Bishopric of Durham, although he was never consecrated due to opposition from Pope Innocent III.[23]

Note on Wife: Eleanor of AQUITAINE

Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122 or 1124 – 1 April 1204) was one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in Western Europe during the High Middle Ages. As well as being Duchess of Aquitaine in her own right, she was queen consort of France (1137–1152) and of England (1154–1189). Eleanor of Aquitaine is the only woman to have been queen of both France and England. She was the patroness of such literary figures as Wace, Benoît de Sainte-More, and Chrétien de Troyes.


Eleanor succeeded her father as suo jure Duchess of Aquitaine and Countess of Poitiers at the age of fifteen, and thus became the most eligible bride in Europe. Three months after her accession she married Louis VII, son and junior co-ruler of her guardian, King Louis VI of France. As Queen of France, she participated in the unsuccessful Second Crusade. Soon after the Crusade was over, Louis VII and Eleanor agreed to dissolve their marriage, because of Eleanor's own desire for divorce and also because the only children they had were two daughters – Marie and Alix. The royal marriage was annulled on 11 March 1152, on the grounds of consanguinity within the fourth degree. Their daughters were declared legitimate and custody of them awarded to Louis, while Eleanor's lands were restored to her.


As soon as she arrived in Poitiers, Eleanor became engaged to Henry II, Duke of the Normans, her cousin within the third degree, who was nine years younger. On 18 May 1152, eight weeks after the annulment of her first marriage, Eleanor married the Duke of the Normans. On 25 October 1154 her husband ascended the throne of the Kingdom of England, making Eleanor Queen of the English. Over the next thirteen years, she bore Henry eight children: five sons, three of whom would become king, and three daughters. However, Henry and Eleanor eventually became estranged. She was imprisoned between 1173 and 1189 for supporting her son Henry's revolt against her husband, King Henry II.


Eleanor was widowed on 6 July 1189. Her husband was succeeded by their son, Richard the Lionheart, who immediately moved to release his mother. Now queen dowager, Eleanor acted as a regent for her son while he went off on the Third Crusade. Eleanor survived her son Richard and lived well into the reign of her youngest son King John. By the time of her death she had outlived all of her children except for King John and Eleanor, Queen of Castile.


The exact date and place of Eleanor's birth are not known. A late 13th century genealogy of her family listed her as 13 years old in the spring of 1137.[2] Some chronicles mentionned a fidelity oath of some lords of Aquitaine on the occasion of Eleanor's fourteenth birthday in 1136. Her parents almost certainly married in 1121. Her birth place may have been Poitiers, Bordeaux, or Nieul-sur-l'Autise, where her mother died as she was 6 or 8.[3]


Eleanor or Aliénor was the oldest of three children of William X, Duke of Aquitaine, whose glittering ducal court was on the leading edge of early–12th-century culture, and his wife, Aenor de Châtellerault, the daughter of Aimeric I, Viscount of Châtellerault, and Dangereuse, who was William IX's longtime mistress as well as Eleanor's maternal grandmother. Her parents' marriage had been arranged by Dangereuse with her paternal grandfather, the Troubadour.


Eleanor was named for her mother Aenor and called Aliénor, from the Latin alia Aenor, which means the other Aenor. It became Eléanor in the langues d'oïl (Northern French) and Eleanor in English.[4] There is, however, an earlier Eleanor on record: Eleanor of Normandy, William the Conqueror's aunt, who lived a century earlier than Eleanor of Aquitaine.


By all accounts, Eleanor's father ensured that she had the best possible education.[5] Although her native tongue was Poitevin, she was taught to read and speak Latin, was well versed in music and literature, and schooled in riding, hawking, and hunting.[6] Eleanor was extroverted, lively, intelligent, and strong willed. In the spring of 1130, when Eleanor was six, her four-year-old brother William Aigret and their mother died at the castle of Talmont, on Aquitaine's Atlantic coast. Eleanor became the heir presumptive to her father's domains. The Duchy of Aquitaine was the largest and richest province of France; Poitou (where Eleanor spent most of her childhood) and Aquitaine together were almost one-third the size of modern France. Eleanor had only one other legitimate sibling, a younger sister named Aelith but always called Petronilla. Her half brothers, William and Joscelin, were acknowledged by William X as his sons, but not as his heirs. Later, during the first four years of Henry II's reign, all three siblings joined Eleanor's royal household.


[edit] InheritanceIn 1138, Duke William X set out from Poitiers to Bordeaux, taking his daughters with him. Upon reaching Bordeaux, he left Eleanor and Petronilla in the charge of the Archbishop of Bordeaux, one of the Duke's few loyal vassals who could be entrusted with the safety of the duke's daughters. The duke then set out for the Shrine of Saint James of Compostela, in the company of other pilgrims; however, he died on Good Friday 9 April 1137.[7][8]


Eleanor, aged about fifteen, became the Duchess of Aquitaine, and thus the most eligible heiress in Europe. As these were the days when kidnapping an heiress was seen as a viable option for obtaining a title, William had dictated a will on the very day he died, bequeathing his domains to Eleanor and appointing King Louis VI of France as her guardian.[9] William requested the King to take care of both the lands and the duchess, and to also find her a suitable husband.[5] However, until a husband was found, the King had the legal right to Eleanor's lands. The Duke also insisted to his companions that his death be kept a secret until Louis was informed – the men were to journey from Saint James across the Pyrenees as quickly as possible, to call at Bordeaux to notify the Archbishop, and then to make all speed to Paris, to inform the King.


The King of France himself was also gravely ill at that time, suffering "a flux of the bowels" (dysentery) from which he seemed unlikely to recover. Despite his immense obesity and impending mortality, however, Louis the Fat remained clear-minded. To his concerns regarding his new heir, Louis, who had been destined for the monastic life of a younger son (the former heir, Philip, having died from a riding accident),[10] was added joy over the death of one of his most powerful vassals – and the availability of the best duchy in France. Presenting a solemn and dignified manner to the grieving Aquitainian messengers, upon their departure he became overjoyed, stammering in delight.


Rather than act as guardian to the Duchess and duchy, he decided, he would marry the duchess to his heir and bring Aquitaine under the French Crown, thereby greatly increasing the power and prominence of France and the Capets. Within hours, then, Louis had arranged for his 17 year-old son, Prince Louis, to be married to Eleanor, with Abbot Suger in charge of the wedding arrangements. Prince Louis was sent to Bordeaux with an escort of 500 knights, as well as Abbot Suger, Theobald II, Count of Champagne and Count Ralph.


[edit] First marriage

(left scene) 14th-century representation of the wedding of Louis and Eleanor; (right scene) Depiction of Louis leaving on CrusadeOn 25 July 1137 the couple was married in the Cathedral of Saint-André in Bordeaux by the Archbishop of Bordeaux.[5] Immediately after the wedding, the couple were enthroned as Duke and Duchess of Aquitaine.[5][5] However, there was a catch: the land would remain independent of France until Eleanor's oldest son becomes both King of the Franks and Duke of Aquitaine. Thus, her holdings would not be merged with France until the next generation. She gave Louis a wedding present that is still in existence, a rock crystal vase, currently on display at the Louvre.[5][10][11]


Eleanor's tenure as junior Queen of the Franks lasted only few days. On 1 August, Eleanor's father-in-law died and her husband became sole monarch. Eleanor was anointed and crowned Queen of the Franks on Christmas Day of the same year.[5][8]


Possessing a high-spirited nature, Eleanor was not popular with the staid northerners (according to sources, Louis´ mother, Adélaide de Maurienne, thought her flighty and a bad influence) – she was not aided by memories of Queen Constance, the Provençal wife of Robert II, tales of whose immodest dress and language were still told with horror.[12]


Her conduct was repeatedly criticized by Church elders (particularly Bernard of Clairvaux and Abbot Suger) as indecorous. The King, however, was madly in love with his beautiful and worldly bride and granted her every whim, even though her behavior baffled and vexed him to no end. Much money went into beautifying the austere Cité Palace in Paris for Eleanor's sake.[10]


[edit] Conflict

Eleanor's grandfather, William IX of Aquitaine, gave her this rock crystal vase, which she in turn gave to Louis as a wedding gift. He later donated it to the Abbey of Saint-Denis. This is the only known surviving artifact of Eleanor's.Although Louis was a pious man, he soon came into a violent conflict with Pope Innocent II. In 1141, the archbishopric of Bourges became vacant, and the King put forward as a candidate one of his chancellors, Cadurc, whilst vetoing the one suitable candidate, Pierre de la Chatre, who was promptly elected by the canons of Bourges and consecrated by the Pope. Louis accordingly bolted the gates of Bourges against the new Bishop; the Pope, recalling William X's similar attempts to exile Innocent's supporters from Poitou and replace them with priests loyal to himself, blamed Eleanor, saying that Louis was only a child and should be taught manners. Outraged, Louis swore upon relics that so long as he lived Pierre should never enter Bourges. This brought the interdict upon the King's lands. Pierre de la Chatre was given refuge by Theobald II, Count of Champagne.


Louis became involved in a war with Count Theobald of Champagne by permitting Raoul I, Count of Vermandois and seneschal of France, to repudiate his wife Eléonore of Blois, Theobald's sister, and to marry Petronilla of Aquitaine, Eleanor's sister. Eleanor urged Louis to support her sister's illegitimate marriage to Raoul of Vermandois. Champagne had also offended Louis by siding with the Pope in the dispute over Bourges. The war lasted two years (1142–44) and ended with the occupation of Champagne by the royal army. Louis was personally involved in the assault and burning of the town of Vitry. More than a thousand people (1300, some say) who had sought refuge in the church died in the flames.


Horrified, and desiring an end to the war, Louis attempted to make peace with Theobald in exchange for supporting the lift of the interdict on Raoul and Petronilla. This was duly lifted for long enough to allow Theobald's lands to be restored; it was then lowered once more when Raoul refused to repudiate Petronilla, prompting Louis to return to the Champagne and ravage it once more.


In June, 1144, the King and Queen visited the newly built cathedral at Saint-Denis. Whilst there, the Queen met with Bernard of Clairvaux, demanding that he have the excommunication of Petronilla and Raoul lifted through his influence on the Pope, in exchange for which King Louis would make concessions in Champagne, and recognise Pierre de la Chatre as archbishop of Bourges. Dismayed at her attitude, Bernard scolded her for her lack of penitence and her interference in matters of state. In response, Eleanor broke down, and meekly excused her behaviour, claiming to be bitter because of her lack of children. In response to this, Bernard became more kindly towards her: "My child, seek those things which make for peace. Cease to stir up the King against the Church, and urge upon him a better course of action. If you will promise to do this, I in return promise to entreat the merciful Lord to grant you offspring."


In a matter of weeks, peace had returned to France: Theobald's provinces had been returned, and Pierre de la Chatre was installed as Archbishop of Bourges. In April 1145, Eleanor gave birth to a daughter, Marie.


Louis, however still burned with guilt over the massacre at Vitry-le-Brûlé, and desired to make a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land in order to atone for his sins. Fortuitously for him, in the Autumn of 1145, Pope Eugenius requested Louis to lead a Crusade to the Middle East, to rescue the Frankish Kingdoms there from disaster. Accordingly, Louis declared on Christmas Day 1145 at Bourges his intention of going on a crusade.


[edit] CrusadeEleanor of Aquitaine took up the Second Crusade formally during a sermon preached by Bernard of Clairvaux. However she had been corresponding with her uncle Raymond, King and holder of family properties in Antioch where he was seeking further protection from the French crown. She recruited for the campaign, finally assembling some of her royal ladies-in-waiting as well as 300 non-noble vassals. She insisted on taking part in the Crusades as the feudal leader of the soldiers from her duchy. The story that she and her ladies dressed as Amazons is disputed by serious historians, sometime confused with the account of King Conrad's train of ladies during this campaign (in E. Gibbons Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire). Her testimonial launch of the Second Crusade from Vézelay, the rumored location of Mary Magdalene´s burial, dramatically emphasized the role of women in the campaign.


The Crusade itself achieved little. Louis was a weak and ineffectual military leader with no skill for maintaining troop discipline or morale, or of making informed and logical tactical decisions. In eastern Europe, the French army was at times hindered by Manuel I Comnenus, the Byzantine Emperor, who feared that it would jeopardize the tenuous safety of his empire; however, during their 3-week stay at Constantinople, Louis was fêted and Eleanor was much admired. She is compared with Penthesilea, mythical queen of the Amazons, by the Greek historian Nicetas Choniates; he adds that she gained the epithet chrysopous (golden-foot) from the cloth of gold that decorated and fringed her robe. Louis and Eleanor stayed in the Philopation palace, just outside the city walls.



Second Crusade council: Conrad III of Germany, Eleanor's husband Louis VII of France, and Baldwin III of JerusalemFrom the moment the Crusaders entered Asia Minor, the Crusade went badly. The King and Queen were still optimistic – the Byzantine Emperor had told them that the German Emperor Conrad had won a great victory against a Turkish army (where in fact the German army had been massacred), and the great troop was still eating well. However, whilst camping near Nicea, the remnants of the German army, including a dazed and sick Emperor Conrad, straggled past the French camp, bringing news of their disaster. The French, with what remained of the Germans, then began to march in increasingly disorganized fashion, towards Antioch. Their spirits were buoyed on Christmas Eve – when they chose to camp in the lush Dercervian valley near Ephesus, they were ambushed by a Turkish detachment; the French proceeded to slaughter this detachment and appropriate their camp.


Louis then decided to directly cross the Phrygian mountains, in the hope of speeding his approach to take refuge with Eleanor's uncle Raymond in Antioch. As they ascended the mountains, however, the army and the King and Queen were left horrified by the unburied corpses of the previously slaughtered German army.


On the day set for the crossing of Mount Cadmos, Louis chose to take charge of the rear of the column, where the unarmed pilgrims and the baggage trains marched. The vanguard, with which Queen Eleanor marched, was commanded by her Aquitainian vassal, Geoffrey de Rancon; this, being unencumbered by baggage, managed to reach the summit of Cadmos, where de Rancon had been ordered to make camp for the night. De Rancon however chose to march further, deciding in concert with the Count of Maurienne (Louis´ uncle) that a nearby plateau would make a better camp: such disobedience was reportedly common in the army, due to the lack of command from the King.


Accordingly, by midafternoon, the rear of the column – believing the day's march to be nearly at an end – was dawdling; this resulted in the army becoming divided, with some having already crossed the summit and others still approaching it. It was at this point that the Turks, who had been following and feinting for many days, seized their opportunity and attacked those who had not yet crossed the summit. The Turks, having seized the summit of the mountain, and the French (both soldiers and pilgrims) having been taken by surprise, there was little hope of escape: those who tried were caught and killed, and many men, horses and baggage were cast into the canyon below the ridge. William of Tyre placed the blame for this disaster firmly on the baggage – which was considered to have belonged largely to the women.


The King was saved by his lack of authority – having scorned a King's apparel in favour of a simple soldier's tunic, he escaped notice (unlike his bodyguards, whose skulls were brutally smashed and limbs severed). He reportedly "nimbly and bravely scaled a rock by making use of some tree roots which God had provided for his safety", and managed to survive the attack. Others were not so fortunate: "No aid came from Heaven, except that night fell."[13]


The official scapegoat for the disaster was Geoffrey de Rancon, who had made the decision to continue, and it was suggested that he be hanged (a suggestion which the King ignored). Since he was Eleanor's vassal, many believed that it was she who had been ultimately responsible for the change in plan, and thus the massacre. This did nothing for her popularity in Christendom – as did the blame affixed to her baggage, and the fact that her Aquitainian soldiers had marched at the front, and thus were not involved in the fight. From here the army was split by a land march with the royalty taking the sea path to Antioch. When most of the land army arrived, the King and Queen had a profound dispute. Some say Eleanor's reputation was sullied by her supposed affair with her uncle Raymond of Poitiers, Prince of Antioch. However, this may have been a mask, as Raymond through Eleanor tried to forcibly sway Louis to use his army to attack the actual Muslim encampment at nearby Aleppo, gateway to recovering Edessa, the objective of the Crusade by papal decree. Although this was perhaps the better military plan, Louis was not keen to enlarge Eleanor's family lands. One of Louis' avowed Crusade goals was to journey in pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Rather than fight and strike the decisive blow that could have ended the Second Crusade, Louis imprisoned Eleanor for her opposition, and in crossing the desert to Jerusalem, watched his army dwindle.


Eleanor was humiliated by imprisonment a second time, for rightly opposing Louis's foolish assault on Damascus with his remaining army, fortified by King Conrad and King Baldwin. It appears that the idea was to plunder this neutral city that still traded with the Crusaders rather than focus any military force on reducing the Muslim forces that had hold of Aleppo, the gate to the recently Muslim reacquired state of Edessa – the actual mission of the 2nd Crusade by Papal decree. With Damascus a disastrous military failure, the royal family retreated to Jerusalem and then sailed to Rome and back to Paris.


While in the eastern Mediterranean, Eleanor learned about maritime conventions developing there, which were the beginnings of what would become admiralty law. She introduced those conventions in her own lands, on the island of Oleron in 1160 ("Rolls of Oléron") and later in England as well. She was also instrumental in developing trade agreements with Constantinople and ports of trade in the Holy Lands.


[edit] Annulment

A posthumous image of Eleanor dating from 1835Even before the Crusade, Eleanor and Louis were becoming estranged. The city of Antioch had been annexed by Bohemond of Hauteville in the First Crusade, and it was now ruled by Eleanor's flamboyant uncle, Raymond of Antioch, who had gained the principality by marrying its reigning Princess, Constance of Antioch. Clearly, Eleanor supported his desire to re-capture the nearby County of Edessa, the cause of the Crusade; in addition, having been close to him in their youth, she now showed excessive affection towards her uncle – whilst many historians today dismiss this as familial affection (noting their early friendship, and his similarity to her father and grandfather), most at the time firmly believed the two to be involved in an incestuous and adulterous affair. Louis was directed by the Church to visit Jerusalem instead. When Eleanor declared her intention to stand with Raymond and the Aquitaine forces, Louis had her brought out by force. His long march to Jerusalem and back north debilitated his army, but her imprisonment disheartened her knights, and the divided Crusade armies could not overcome the Muslim forces. For reasons of plunder and the Germans' insistence on conquest, the Crusade leaders targeted Damascus, an ally until the attack. Failing in this attempt, they retired to Jerusalem, and then home. Before sailing for home, Eleanor got the terrible and ironic news that Raymond, with whom she had the winning battle plan for the Crusade, had been beheaded by the overpowering forces of the Muslim armies from Edessa.


Home, however, was not easily reached. The royal couple, on separate ships due to their disagreements, were first attacked in May by Byzantine ships attempting to capture both (in order to take them to Byzantium, according to the orders of the Emperor). Although they escaped this predicament unharmed, stormy weather served to drive Eleanor's ship far to the south (to the Barbary Coast), and to similarly lose her husband. Neither was heard of for over two months: at which point, in mid-July, Eleanor's ship finally reached Palermo in Sicily, where she discovered that she and her husband had both been given up for dead. The King still lost, she was given shelter and food by servants of King Roger II of Sicily, until the King eventually reached Calabria, and she set out to meet him there. Later, at King Roger's court in Potenza, she learnt of the death of her uncle Raymond; this appears to have forced a change of plans, for instead of returning to France from Marseilles, they instead sought the Pope in Tusculum, where he had been driven five months before by a Roman revolt.


Pope Eugenius III did not, as Eleanor had hoped, grant an annulment; instead, he attempted to reconcile Eleanor and Louis, confirming the legality of their marriage, and proclaiming that no word could be spoken against it, and that it might not be dissolved under any pretext. Eventually, he arranged events so that Eleanor had no choice but to sleep with Louis in a bed specially prepared by the Pope. Thus was conceived their second child – not a son, but another daughter, Alix of France.


The marriage was now doomed. Still without a son and in danger of being left with no male heir, facing substantial opposition to Eleanor from many of his barons and her own desire for divorce, the reason being that she was having an affair with Henry, Duke of Normandy, Louis had no choice but to bow to the inevitable. On 11 March 1152, they met at the royal castle of Beaugency to dissolve the marriage. Hugues de Toucy, Archbishop of Sens and Primate of France, presided, and Louis and Eleanor were both present, as were the Archbishops of Bordeaux and Rouen. Archbishop Samson of Reims acted for Eleanor.


On 21 March, the four archbishops, with the approval of Pope Eugenius, granted an annulment due to consanguinity within the fourth degree (Eleanor and Louis were third cousins, once removed, and shared common ancestry with Robert II of France). Their two daughters were, however, declared legitimate and custody of them awarded to King Louis. Archbishop Sampson received assurances from Louis that Eleanor's lands would be restored to her.


[edit] Second marriage

Henry II of England

The marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine to Henry of Anjou and Henry's subsequent succession to the throne of England created an empire.Two lords – Theobald V, Count of Blois, son of the Count of Champagne, and Geoffrey, Count of Nantes (brother of Henry II, Duke of the Normans) – tried to kidnap Eleanor to marry her and claim her lands on Eleanor's way to Poitiers. As soon as she arrived in Poitiers, Eleanor sent envoys to Henry, Count of Anjou and Duke of Normandy, asking him to come at once and marry her.


On 18 May 1152 (Whit Sunday), six weeks after her annulment, Eleanor married Henry 'without the pomp and ceremony that befitted their rank'.[14] At that moment, Eleanor became Duchess of the Normans and Countess of the Angevins, while Henry became Duke of Aquitaine and Count of Poitiers.


She was about 12 years older than he, and related to him more closely than she had been to Louis. Eleanor and Henry were cousins to the fourth degree through their common ancestor Ermengarde of Anjou (wife to Robert I, Duke of Burgundy and Geoffrey, Count of Gâtinais); they were also both descendants of Robert II of France. A marriage between Henry and Eleanor's daughter, Marie, had indeed been declared impossible for this very reason. One of Eleanor's rumoured lovers had been Henry's own father, Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou, who had advised his son to avoid any involvement with her.


On 25 October 1154, Eleanor's second husband became King of the English. Eleanor was crowned Queen of the English by the Archbishop of Canterbury on 19 December 1154.[8] It may be, however, that she was not anointed on this occasion, because she had already been anointed in 1137.[15]


Over the next thirteen years, she bore Henry five sons and three daughters: William, Henry, Richard, Geoffrey, John, Matilda, Eleanor, and Joan. John Speed, in his 1611 work History of Great Britain, mentions the possibility that Eleanor had a son named Philip, who died young. His sources no longer exist and he alone mentions this birth.[16]


Eleanor's marriage to Henry was reputed to be tumultuous and argumentative, although sufficiently cooperative to produce at least eight pregnancies. Henry was by no means faithful to his wife and had a reputation for philandering. Their son, William, and Henry's illegitimate son, Geoffrey, were born just months apart. Henry fathered other illegitimate children throughout the marriage. Eleanor appears to have taken an ambivalent attitude towards these affairs: for example, Geoffrey of York, an illegitimate son of Henry and a prostitute named Ykenai, was acknowledged by Henry as his child and raised at Westminster in the care of the Queen.


The period between Henry's accession and the birth of Eleanor's youngest son was turbulent: Aquitaine, as was the norm, defied the authority of Henry as Eleanor's husband; attempts to claim Toulouse, the rightful inheritance of Eleanor's grandmother and father, were made, ending in failure; the news of Louis of France's widowhood and remarriage was followed by the marriage of Henry's son (young Henry) to Louis' daughter Marguerite; and, most climactically, the feud between the King and Thomas Becket, his Chancellor, and later his Archbishop of Canterbury. Little is known of Eleanor's involvement in these events. By late 1166, and the birth of her final child, however, Henry's notorious affair with Rosamund Clifford had become known, and her marriage to Henry appears to have become terminally strained.


1167 saw the marriage of Eleanor's third daughter, Matilda, to Henry the Lion of Saxony; Eleanor remained in England with her daughter for the year prior to Matilda's departure to Normandy in September. Afterwards, Eleanor proceeded to gather together her movable possessions in England and transport them on several ships in December to Argentan. At the royal court, celebrated there that Christmas, she appears to have agreed to a separation from Henry. Certainly, she left for her own city of Poitiers immediately after Christmas. Henry did not stop her; on the contrary, he and his army personally escorted her there, before attacking a castle belonging to the rebellious Lusignan family. Henry then went about his own business outside Aquitaine, leaving Earl Patrick (his regional military commander) as her protective custodian. When Patrick was killed in a skirmish, Eleanor (who proceeded to ransom his captured nephew, the young William Marshal), was left in control of her inheritance.


[edit] The Court of Love in Poitiers

Palace of Poitiers, seat of the Counts of Poitou and Dukes of Aquitaine in the 10th through 12th centuries, where Eleanor's highly literate and artistic court inspired tales of Courts of LoveOf all her influence on culture, Eleanor's time in Poitiers was perhaps the most critical and yet very little is known as to what happened. King Henry II was elsewhere, attending to his own affairs after escorting Eleanor to Poitiers.[17]


It was in Poitiers that many scholars attribute Eleanor’s court as the ‘Court of Love’, where Eleanor and her daughter Marie meshed and encouraged the ideas of troubadours, chivalry, and courtly love into a single court. The existence and reasons for this court are debated.


In The Art of Courtly Love, Andreas Capellanus (Andrew the chaplain) refers to the court of Poitiers. He claimed that several women, including Eleanor and her daughter Marie de Champagne, would sit and listen to the quarrels of lovers and act as a jury to the questions of the court that revolved around acts of romantic love. He records some twenty-one cases, the most famous of them being a problem designated to the woman about whether or not true love can exist in marriage. According to Capellanus, the women decided that it was not at all likely.[18]


Some scholars note that, because the only evidence of the courts of love took place is in Andreas Capellanus’s book The Art of Courtly Love, such an influential court never existed—and to further strengthen their argument they say that there is no evidence that Marie ever stayed with her mother in Poitiers, beyond her name being mentioned in Andreas’s work.[17] Andreas wrote for the court of the king of France, where Eleanor was not well-regarded.


Others such as, Polly Schoyer Brooks, in a non-academic, popular history book, suggest that the court did exist, but that it was not taken very seriously and that the acts of Courtly Love were just a “parlor game” made up by Eleanor and Marie in order to place some order over all of the young courtiers that were situated there.[19]


That is not to say that Eleanor invented courtly love, for it was a concept that had begun to grow before Eleanor’s court arose. Still, because we do not have much information about what went on while Eleanor was in Poitiers, all that can be taken from it is that this court was most likely a catalyst for the increased popularity of courtly love literature in the Western European regions. .[20]


Amy Kelly, in her article “Eleanor of Aquitaine and her Courts of Love”, gave a very probable description of what the rules of this court were based on; she said that “in the Poitevin code, man is the property, the very thing of woman; whereas a precisely contrary state of things existed in the adjacent realms of the two kings from whom the reigning duchess of Aquitaine was estranged.”.[21]


[edit] Revolt and captureIn March 1173, aggrieved at his lack of power and egged on by his father's enemies, the younger Henry launched the Revolt of 1173–1174. He fled to Paris. From there 'the younger Henry, devising evil against his father from every side by the advice of the French King, went secretly into Aquitaine where his two youthful brothers, Richard and Geoffrey, were living with their mother, and with her connivance, so it is said, he incited them to join him'.[22] One source claimed that the Queen sent her younger sons to France 'to join with him against their father the King'.[23] Once her sons had left for Paris, Eleanor may have encouraged the lords of the south to rise up and support them.[24]


Sometime between the end of March and the beginning of May, Eleanor left Poitiers but was arrested and sent to the King at Rouen. The King did not announce the arrest publicly; for the next year, the Queen's whereabouts were unknown. On 8 July 1174, Henry and Eleanor took ship for England from Barfleur. As soon as they disembarked at Southampton, Eleanor was taken either to Winchester Castle or Sarum Castle and held there.


[edit] Years of imprisonment 1173–1189

The obverse of Eleanor's seal. She is identified as Eleanor, by the Grace of God, Queen of the English, Duchess of the Normans. The legend on the reverse calls her Eleanor, Duchess of the Aquitanians and Countess of the Angevins.[8]Eleanor was imprisoned for the next sixteen years, much of the time in various locations in England. During her imprisonment, Eleanor had become more and more distant with her sons, especially Richard (who had always been her favorite). She did not have the opportunity to see her sons very often during her imprisonment, though she was released for special occasions such as Christmas. About four miles from Shrewsbury and close by Haughmond Abbey is "Queen Eleanor's Bower", the remains of a triangular castle which is believed to have been one of her prisons.


Henry lost the woman reputed to be his great love, Rosamund Clifford, in 1176. He had met her in 1166 and began the liaison in 1173, supposedly contemplating divorce from Eleanor. This notorious affair caused a monkish scribe to transcribe Rosamond's name in Latin to "Rosa Immundi", or "Rose of Unchastity". The king had many mistresses, but although he treated earlier liaisons discreetly, he flaunted Rosamond. He may have done so to provoke Eleanor into seeking an annulment but, if so, the queen disappointed him. Nevertheless, rumours persisted, perhaps assisted by Henry's camp, that Eleanor had poisoned Rosamund. Henry donated much money to Godstow Nunnery, where Rosamund was buried.


In 1183, the Young King Henry tried again to force his father to hand over some of his patrimony. In debt and refused control of Normandy, he tried to ambush his father at Limoges. He was joined by troops sent by his brother Geoffrey and Philip II of France. Henry II's troops besieged the town, forcing his son to flee. After wandering aimlessly through Aquitaine, Henry the Younger caught dysentery. On Saturday, 11 June 1183, the Young King realized he was dying and was overcome with remorse for his sins. When his father's ring was sent to him, he begged that his father would show mercy to his mother, and that all his companions would plead with Henry to set her free. Henry II sent Thomas of Earley, Archdeacon of Wells, to break the news to Eleanor at Sarum.[25] Eleanor reputedly had had a dream in which she foresaw her son Henry's death. In 1193 she would tell Pope Celestine III that she was tortured by his memory.


King Philip of France claimed that certain properties in Normandy belonged to wife, Margaret of France, but Henry insisted that they had once belonged to Eleanor and would revert to her upon her son's death. For this reason Henry summoned Eleanor to Normandy in the late summer of 1183. She stayed in Normandy for six months. This was the beginning of a period of greater freedom for the still-supervised Eleanor. Eleanor went back to England probably early in 1184.[24] Over the next few years Eleanor often traveled with her husband and was sometimes associated with him in the government of the realm, but still had a custodian so that she was not free.


[edit] WidowhoodUpon Henry's death on 6 July 1189, Richard was his undisputed heir. One of his first acts as king was to send William the Marshal to England with orders to release Eleanor from prison, but her custodians had already released her.[26]


Eleanor rode to Westminster and received the oaths of fealty from many lords and prelates on behalf of the King. She ruled England in Richard's name, signing herself as 'Eleanor, by the grace of God, Queen of England'. On 13 August 1189, Richard sailed from Barfleur to Portsmouth, and was received with enthusiasm. She ruled England as regent while Richard went off on the Third Crusade. Later, when Richard was captured, she personally negotiated his ransom by going to Germany.


Eleanor survived Richard and lived well into the reign of her youngest son King John. In 1199, under the terms of a truce between King Philip II of France and King John, it was agreed that Philip's twelve-year-old heir Louis would be married to one of John's nieces of Castile. John deputed Eleanor to travel to Castile to select one of the princesses. Now 77, Eleanor set out from Poitiers. Just outside Poitiers she was ambushed and held captive by Hugh IX of Lusignan, which had long ago been sold by his forebears to Henry II. Eleanor secured her freedom by agreeing to his demands and journeyed south, crossed the Pyrenees, and travelled through the Kingdoms of Navarre and Castile, arriving before the end of January, 1200.


King Alfonso VIII and her daughter, Queen Eleanor (also called Leonora of England) of Castile had two remaining unmarried daughters, Urraca and Blanche. Eleanor selected the younger daughter, Blanche. She stayed for two months at the Castilian court. Late in March, Eleanor and her granddaughter Blanche journeyed back across the Pyrenees. When she was at Bordeaux where she celebrated Easter, the famous warrior Mercadier came to her and it was decided that he would escort the Queen and Princess north. "On the second day in Easter week, he was slain in the city by a man-at-arms in the service of Brandin",[23] a rival mercenary captain. This tragedy was too much for the elderly Queen, who was fatigued and unable to continue to Normandy. She and Blanche rode in easy stages to the valley of the Loire, and she entrusted Blanche to the Archbishop of Bordeaux, who took over as her escort. The exhausted Eleanor went to Fontevraud, where she remained. In early summer, Eleanor was ill and John visited her at Fontevraud.



Tomb effigies of Eleanor and Henry II at Fontevraud AbbeyEleanor was again unwell in early 1201. When war broke out between John and Philip, Eleanor declared her support for John, and set out from Fontevraud for her capital Poitiers to prevent her grandson Arthur, John's enemy, from taking control. Arthur learned of her whereabouts and besieged her in the castle of Mirabeau. As soon as John heard of this he marched south, overcame the besiegers and captured Arthur. Eleanor then returned to Fontevraud where she took the veil as a nun.


Eleanor died in 1204 and was entombed in Fontevraud Abbey next to her husband Henry and her son Richard. Her tomb effigy shows her reading a Bible and is decorated with magnificent jewelry. By the time of her death she had outlived all of her children except for King John and Queen Eleanor.


[edit] AppearanceContemporary sources praise Eleanor's beauty.[5] Even in an era when ladies of the nobility were excessively praised, their praise of her was undoubtedly sincere. When she was young, she was described as perpulchra – more than beautiful. When she was around 30, Bernard de Ventadour, a noted troubadour, called her "gracious, lovely, the embodiment of charm," extolling her "lovely eyes and noble countenance" and declaring that she was "one meet to crown the state of any king."[27][28][29] William of Newburgh emphasized the charms of her person, and even in her old age, Richard of Devizes described her as beautiful, while Matthew Paris, writing in the 13th century, recalled her "admirable beauty."


However, no one left a more detailed description of Eleanor; the color of her hair and eyes, for example are unknown. The effigy on her tomb shows a tall and large-boned woman, though this may not be an accurate representation. Her seal of c. 1152 shows a woman with a slender figure, but this is likely an impersonal image.[5]


[edit] In historical fictionEleanor and Henry are the main characters in James Goldman's play The Lion in Winter, which was made into a film starring Peter O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn in 1968 (for which Hepburn won the Academy Award for Best Actress and the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role and was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama), and remade for television in 2003 with Patrick Stewart and Glenn Close (for which Close won the Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress In A Mini-series or Motion Picture Made for Television and was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress - Miniseries or a Movie).


The depiction of Eleanor in the play Becket, which was filmed in 1964 with Pamela Brown as Eleanor, contains historical inaccuracies, as acknowledged by the author, Jean Anouilh.


In 2004, Catherine Muschamp's one-woman play, Mother of the Pride, toured the UK with Eileen Page in the title role. In 2005, Chapelle Jaffe played the same part in Toronto.


The character "Queen Elinor" appears in William Shakespeare's King John, along with other members of the family. On television, she has been portrayed in this play by Una Venning in the BBC Sunday Night Theatre version (1952) and by Mary Morris in the BBC Shakespeare version (1984).


She figures prominently in Sharon Kay Penman's novels, When Christ And His Saints Slept, Time and Chance, and Devil's Brood. She appears briefly in Here Be Dragons. Penman has also written a series of historical mysteries where she, in old age, sends a trusted servant to unravel various puzzles. The titles are The Queen's Man, Cruel as the Grave, Dragon's Lair, and Prince of Darkness.


E.L. Konigsburg's young adult novel, A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver, takes place in Heaven of the late 20th century, where Eleanor of Aquitaine, Empress Matilda, and William the Marshall are waiting for King Henry II to be admitted to heaven at last. The Abbot Suger stops to chat with Eleanor and stays to wait, too. To pass the time, the four recall Eleanor's time on Earth. The flashbacks on earth are set during the Middle Ages in France and England, with a brief trip to the Holy Land. The flashbacks trace the highlights of Eleanor's life from 1137 (when she is fifteen years old and about to wed Louis Capet, soon to be King Louis VII of France) to her death in 1204. Her life encompasses the rule of England by her husband Henry II and by her sons Richard and John. A humorous, highly original, and intelligent introduction for young readers to a fascinating chapter in history. Originally published in 1973, it's been put back in print by Atheneum, in 2001.


Christy English's historical novel, The Queen's Pawn, published in April 2010, depicts Eleanor of Aquitaine from 1169–1173, during her marriage to King Henry II of England and her relationship with Princess Alais of France. Also published in April 2010 was the novel The Captive Queen by Alison Weir, detailing Eleanor's life from when she first met Henry II of England to her death in 1204.


Eleanor has also featured in a number of screen versions of Ivanhoe and the Robin Hood story. She has been played by Martita Hunt in The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1952), Jill Esmond in the British TV adventure series The Adventures of Robin Hood (1955–1960), Phyllis Neilson-Terry in the British TV adventure series Ivanhoe (1958), Yvonne Mitchell in the BBC TV drama series The Legend of Robin Hood (1975), Siân Phillips in the TV series Ivanhoe (1997), and Tusse Silberg in the TV series The New Adventures of Robin Hood (1997). She was portrayed by Lynda Bellingham in the BBC series Robin Hood. Most recently, she was portrayed by Eileen Atkins in Robin Hood (2010).


She has also been portrayed by Mary Clare in the silent film Becket (1923), based on a play by Alfred Lord Tennyson, Prudence Hyman in the British children's TV series Richard the Lionheart (1962), and Jane Lapotaire in the BBC TV drama series The Devil's Crown (1978), which dramatised the reigns of Henry II, Richard I and John.


Eleanor is played by Jane Lapotaire in Mike Walker's BBC Radio 4 series Plantagenet (2010).


Eleanor and Rosamund Clifford, as well as Henry II and Rosamund's father appear in Gaetano Donizetti's opera Rosmonda d'Inghilterra with a libretto by Felice Romani, which was premiered in Florence, at the Teatro Pergola, in 27 February 1834. A recording made by Opera Rara (1994), features Nelly Miricioiu as Eleanor and Renée Fleming as Rosamund.


Eleanor is also associated with Nicole des Jardins in Arthur C. Clark's series Rendezvous with Rama. She is often cited as a role model for Nicole along with Joan of Arc