Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Medieval Queen: Eleanor of Aquitaine

It is not often that we get the chance to talk about powerful women in the Middle ages. However Eleanor of Aquitaine had more power and influence than most nobles during the 12th century. She would be married to two kings and have as sons three more kings. On top of this she ruled with her second husband from the Scottish borders down to the Pyrenees.

Her inheritance was the Angevin Empire. Back in the 12th century there was no France as we know it today. The King of France basically ruled the area around Paris and the rest of France was in practice largely outside his control. The Lords who ran the dominions spread throughout France might have looked upon the King as their overlord but this was a relationship which could be challenged. The Angevin empire ran from Normandy southwards to Gascony and the border with Spain - interestingly it excluded Brittany to the west.

The broad outline of Eleanor's life is as follows ...

1122 to 1204

Louise VII of France & Henry II of England

10 children - 5 boys and 5 girls
2 daughters to Louis, 5 boys and 3 girls to Henry.

Other interesting points
Second crusade, revolt against Henry II
In popular fiction - "The Lion in Winter" plus many appearances in stories of Ivanhoe and Robin Hood.

For further details on Eleanor's life the Wikipedia entry is quite good. We hope to write more posts soon on this amazing medieval woman.

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