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Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine, is a determined woman who plots and schemes an astonishing path between two equally powerful men in twelfth century Europe, a woman who can manoeuvre and manipulate to safeguard her own lands as effectively as any power-grasping lord. Eleanor is single-minded in her struggle to keep her inheritance intact, leading her to reject one husband and take another who will fulfill her desires. Eleanor intends to reign as Queen and is prepared to bring scandal down upon herself in pursuit of her ultimate prize.

Ideal for: An exciting and riveting historical read that will appeal to fans of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir. This paperback book has pages and measures: Subject to exceptions, we are happy to exchange or refund your purchase within 28 days of delivery.

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B46 1AL. Jump to main navigation Jump to search Jump to mini basket Jump to main content Jump to footer. Please continue shopping if you are happy with this, or you can change your cookie preferences here cookie close. Such disobedience was reportedly common. This resulted in the army becoming separated, with some having already crossed the summit and others still approaching it.

At this point 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 French, both soldiers and pilgrims, taken by surprise, were trapped. Those who tried to escape were caught and killed. Many men, horses, and much of the baggage were cast into the canyon below. The chronicler William of Tyre , writing between and and thus perhaps too long after the event to be considered historically accurate, placed the blame for this disaster firmly on the amount of baggage being carried, much of it reputedly belonging to Eleanor and her ladies, and the presence of non-combatants.

The king, having scorned royal apparel in favour of a simple pilgrim's tunic, escaped notice, unlike his bodyguards, whose skulls were brutally smashed and limbs severed.

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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. Official blame for the disaster was placed on 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 Geoffrey 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 suspicion of responsibility did nothing for her popularity in Christendom. She was also blamed for the size of the baggage train and the fact that her Aquitainian soldiers had marched at the front and thus were not involved in the fight. Continuing on, the army became split, with the commoners marching toward Antioch and the royalty traveling by sea.

When most of the land army arrived, the king and queen had a dispute. Some, such as John of Salisbury and William of Tyre, say Eleanor's reputation was sullied by rumours of an affair with her uncle Raymond. However, this rumor may have been a ruse, as Raymond, through Eleanor, had been trying to induce Louis to use his army to attack the actual Muslim encampment at nearby Aleppo , gateway to retaking Edessa , which had all along, by papal decree, been the main objective of the Crusade. Although this was perhaps the better military plan, Louis was not keen to fight in northern Syria.

One of Louis's avowed Crusade goals was to journey in pilgrimage to Jerusalem , and he stated his intention to continue. Consanguinity was grounds for annulment in the medieval period. But rather than allowing her to stay, Louis took Eleanor from Antioch against her will and continued on to Jerusalem with his dwindling army. Louis's refusal and his forcing her to accompany him humiliated Eleanor, and she maintained a low profile for the rest of the crusade.

Damascus was a major wealthy trading centre and was under normal circumstances a potential threat, but the rulers of Jerusalem had recently entered into a truce with the city, which they then forswore. It was a gamble that did not pay off, and whether through military error or betrayal, the Damascus campaign was a failure. Louis's long march to Jerusalem and back north, which Eleanor was forced to join, debilitated his army and disheartened her knights; the divided Crusade armies could not overcome the Muslim forces, and the royal couple had to return home.

The French royal family retreated to Jerusalem and then sailed to Rome and made their way 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 was also instrumental in developing trade agreements with Constantinople and ports of trade in the Holy Lands.

Even before the Crusade, Eleanor and Louis were becoming estranged, and their differences were only exacerbated while they were abroad. Eleanor's purported relationship with her uncle Raymond, [17] the ruler of Antioch, was a major source of discord. Eleanor supported her uncle's desire to re-capture the nearby County of Edessa , the objective of the Crusade.

In addition, having been close to him in their youth, she now showed what was considered to be "excessive affection" toward her uncle. Raymond had plans to abduct Eleanor, to which she consented. Home, however, was not easily reached. Louis and Eleanor, on separate ships due to their disagreements, were first attacked in May by Byzantine ships attempting to capture both on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor. Although they escaped this attempt unharmed, stormy weather drove Eleanor's ship far to the south to the Barbary Coast and caused her to lose track of her husband.

Neither was heard of for over two months. 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. 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.

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Later, at King Roger's court in Potenza , she learned of the death of her uncle Raymond, who had been beheaded by Muslim forces in the Holy Land. This news appears to have forced a change of plans, for instead of returning to France from Marseilles , they went to see Pope Eugene III in Tusculum , where he had been driven five months before by a revolt of the Commune of Rome. Eugene did not, as Eleanor had hoped, grant an annulment. Instead, he attempted to reconcile Eleanor and Louis, confirming the legality of their marriage.

He proclaimed 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 [ clarification needed ] but to sleep with Louis in a bed specially prepared [ how? 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 annulment, Louis bowed to the inevitable. On 11 March , they met at the royal castle of Beaugency to dissolve the marriage. Hugues de Toucy, archbishop of Sens , presided, and Louis and Eleanor were both present, as were the archbishop of Bordeaux and Rouen. Archbishop Samson of Reims acted for Eleanor.


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On 21 March, the four archbishops, with the approval of Pope Eugene, granted an annulment on grounds of consanguinity within the fourth degree; Eleanor was Louis' third cousin once removed, and shared common ancestry with Robert II of France. Their two daughters were, however, declared legitimate. Children born to a marriage that was later annulled were not at risk of being "bastardized," because "[w]here parties married in good faith, without knowledge of an impediment, Archbishop Samson received assurances from Louis that Eleanor's lands would be restored to her.

As soon as she arrived in Poitiers, Eleanor sent envoys to Henry, duke of Normandy and future king of England, asking him to come at once to marry her. On 18 May Whit Sunday , eight weeks after her annulment, Eleanor married Henry "without the pomp and ceremony that befitted their rank. A marriage between Henry and Eleanor's daughter Marie had earlier been declared impossible due to their status as third cousins once removed. It was rumored by some that Eleanor had had an affair with Henry's own father, Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou , who had advised his son to avoid any involvement with her.

On 25 October , Henry became king of England. Eleanor was crowned queen of England by the archbishop of Canterbury on 19 December John Speed , in his 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.

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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.

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Henry fathered other, illegitimate children throughout the marriage. Eleanor appears to have taken an ambivalent attitude towards these affairs. Geoffrey of York , for example, was an illegitimate son of Henry, but acknowledged by Henry as his child and raised at Westminster in the care of the queen. During the period from Henry's accession to the birth of Eleanor's youngest son John, affairs in the kingdom were turbulent: Aquitaine, as was the norm, defied the authority of Henry as Eleanor's husband and answered only to their duchess.

Attempts were made to claim Toulouse , the rightful inheritance of Eleanor's grandmother Philippa of Toulouse , but they ended in failure. A bitter feud arose between the king and Thomas Becket , initially his chancellor and closest adviser and later the archbishop of Canterbury. Louis of France had remarried and been widowed; he married for the third time and finally fathered a long-hoped-for son, Philip Augustus, also known as Dieudonne—God-given.

Little is known of Eleanor's involvement in these events. It is certain that by late , Henry's notorious affair with Rosamund Clifford had become known, and Eleanor's marriage to Henry appears to have become terminally strained. Eleanor remained in England with her daughter for the year prior to Matilda's departure for Normandy in September. In December, Eleanor gathered her movable possessions in England and transported them on several ships to Argentan.

Christmas was celebrated at the royal court there, and she appears to have agreed to a separation from Henry. She certainly 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 lands. Of all her influence on culture, Eleanor's time in Poitiers between and was perhaps the most critical, yet very little is known about it.

Henry II was elsewhere, attending to his own affairs after escorting Eleanor there. It may have been largely to teach manners, something the French courts would be known for in later generations. Yet the existence and reasons for this court are debated. He claims that Eleanor, her daughter Marie, Ermengarde, Viscountess of Narbonne , and Isabelle of Flanders 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 posed to the women about whether true love can exist in marriage. According to Capellanus, the women decided that it was not at all likely. Some scholars believe that the "court of love" probably never existed since the only evidence for it is Andreas Capellanus' book. To strengthen their argument, they state that there is no other evidence that Marie ever stayed with her mother in Poitiers. Polly Schoyer Brooks, the author of a non-academic biography of Eleanor, suggests that the court did exist, but that it was not taken very seriously, and that acts of courtly love were just a "parlor game" made up by Eleanor and Marie in order to place some order over the young courtiers living there.

There is no claim that Eleanor invented courtly love, for it was a concept that had begun to grow before Eleanor's court arose. All that can be said is that her court at Poitiers was most likely a catalyst for the increased popularity of courtly love literature in the Western European regions.

In March , aggrieved at his lack of power and egged on by Henry's enemies, his son by the same name, the younger Henry, launched the Revolt of — 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.

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Sometime between the end of March and the beginning of May, Eleanor left Poitiers, but was arrested and sent to the king at Rouen. Name Required. E-mail Required. Powered by WordPress. Designed by. Just popping by to say how nice it was to meet you last night!