1960 - Canadian Edition

ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE - (Fr., ALIENOR, a-Ie-a-nor') queen of France, and later queen of England: b. about 1122; d. Fontevrault, France, April 1, 1204.

She was the eldest daughter and heiress of William X, duke of Aquitaine, and upon his death in the spring of 1137 (age 15) she became duchess of Aquitaine. In early July of that year she married Prince Louis of France (a marriage arranged by her father), who in August succeeded to the throne as Louis VII. She accompanied him on his crusade in 1147, and their second daughter, Alice, was born in the two-year period after their return from the Holy Land in 1149. In March 1152, however, no male heir having been born, their marriage was dissolved on the grounds of consanguinity.

In the late spring of 1152, Eleanor married Henry, count of Anjou and duke of Normandy, who in 1154 became Henry II of England. This marriage, making Henry master of Eleanor's vast possessions in France, initiated the 4OO-year struggle between France and England. Eleanor bore Henry five sons and three daughters, but his persistent infidelities finally estranged her, and when her sons Henry and Richard and the king's illegitimate son Geoffrey revolted in 1173, she did all she could to aid them. She was arrested while trying to join them in France and was placed in honorable imprisonment for 16 years, some chroniclers say at Salisbury, others at Winchester; but she appeared with the king on state 'occasions. The popular legend which made her responsible for the death of Henry's mistress, Rosamond Clifford, the "Fair Rosamond," was the romantic invention of a later period.

After the king's death and the coronation of Richard I, Eleanor had great prestige and influence in affairs of state, especially during Richard's absence on crusade. In 1191 she conducted Berengaria of Navarre to Sicily to be married to Richard; she frustrated John's plot against Richard and later reconciled the two brothers ; and Richard entrusted to her the collection and dispatch of the ransom demanded for his release from captivity. In 1199, after Richard's death, she helped secure the succession for John by putting down an uprising of the Anjou barons in favor of her grandson Arthur. Her court at Poitiers, especially during the period just prior to her detention in England, was renowned for its cultivation of chivalry and patronage of the troubadours. After her death at the abbey of Fontevrault, her body was entombed there beside the tombs of Richard and her husband.
Consult' Kelly, Amy Ruth, Eleanor of A~uitaine and the Four Kings (Cambridge, Mass., 1950} ; Walker, Curtis Howe, Eleanor of Aquitaine (Chapel Hill 1950).

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