Eleanor of Aquitaine 1147 A.D.

Highlander1 By Highlander1, 12th Jan 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
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Eleanor of Aquitaine mother of romance? Why she became the queen of both England and France.

Eleanor of Aquitaine :An Amazonian woman

When it came to influencing the countries of France and England, Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the most influential women of her time. Through the bonds of marriage and religion she formed an alliance with France and England that for a time, grafted both nations together.
Women of beliefs
I chose Eleanor of Aquitaine because she was a woman who acted upon her beliefs.
Dressed as an Amazon warrior of ancient Greek Legend, she galloped through the crowds on a white stead, encouraging both the men and women to join the Crusades.
Eleanor was not only brave and noble, but reflected the spirit of an Amazon's willingness to sacrifice their own life for others. She inspired the people of Vezelay by appearing on a white stead, imitating past male Kings such as William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings. Her birth, education, and religious upbringing prepared her to deal with the wealth and fame that went with becoming a queen.


The future Queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, was born from a family of wealthy and powerful Dukes of southern France. Her father was William, descendent of William IX of Aquitaine of southern France. When all of her family died, she was left heir to her father's vast fortune. She was highly educated by her loving father, who died suddenly from food poisoning while on a religious pilgrimage. Her father made arrangements prior to his untimely death to have Eleanor to marry King Louis the Fat's son at the age of just fifteen. Shortly thereafter, the wedding honeymoon was interrupted by the sudden death of King Louis the Fat. This quickly made Eleanor's husband King, and her Queen, of France. She went on the second crusade with her husband, bringing along with her three hundred women and one thousand fighting vessels. Although the women were dressed in armor and carried lances, they never fought. Her explanation to the church was based that she wished to help "tend the wounded". Alas, this marriage was not to last. She also did not bare any male children for her French King. The second crusade failed, along with Eleanor's marriage to King Louis VII. Although marriage was considered a sacrament by the Catholic Church, she was able to have it annulled and later unite two kingdoms by actions.

Manipulate Kings

Eleanor of Aquitaine was able to supersede and suspend the power of the church in order to divorce her first husband and retrieve her vast estates back into her control. Her daughter Marie was left to reside in France with King Louis VII. Divorce or annulments were difficult at that time. Add to this her ability to manipulate Kings such as King Louis VII, her uncle Raymond of Poitiers, her son, Richard the Lion Heart, his brother John, and the entire Church of Rome. Eleanor was a very skillful and intelligent Queen. She was not your stay at home type of woman, to the consternation of many observers, for she preferred to be involved directly with her husband's stately duties. One of her controversial actions was her influence on her daughter Marie concerning the policy of "Courtly Love". Thus, noble women under the tutelage of Marie de Champagne, daughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine and her first husband the king of France, developed love courts and the concept of Courtly Love. This concept freed women to pursue relationships with men outside of the structures of marriage, and also shift their focus from the single family unit (with its biological, economic, and geographic coherencies) to a social group that focused on the aesthetic, emotional and spiritual development of individuals distinct from their reproductive roles.

Queen of France & England

After the annulment to King Louis VII of France, Eleanor married Henry Plantagenet, the grandson of England's King Henry I. Five months after Eleanor's second marriage to Henry, she became Queen of England. It appeared Eleanor's father-in-laws had the awful habit of dropping dead after she married into their families. Eleanor's marriage to King Henry Plantagenet soon soured, leading her to journey to France for a time to rule her former Kingdom of France. Her court in France quickly became the center of society, until King Henry ordered her back to England.


Eleanor, along with her three sons, plotted to wrist the crown from her husbands head. This proved fruitless for the moment, resulting in Eleanor being a virtual prisoner of King Henry for sixteen years. Henry II died, and with Henry II eldest son already dead, left Richard the Lionheart as King. Richard proved to be the favorite son of Eleanor. Richard soon went away on a crusade, leaving his mother as regent. Eleanor, like her future predecessor, Queen Elizabeth, was able to run the countries of England and France with great success. Richard "... issued instructions to the princes of the realm, almost in the style of a general edict, that the queen's word should be law in all matters..." Eleanor proved to be a wise monarch. When her son Richard was taken hostage, Eleanor helped to raise his ransom money. She managed to control her son John's attempts to usurp the throne while Richard was away on the crusades. After King Richard's return to England from the Crusades, Eleanor managed to get both brothers to reconcile. Later, Richard died leaving John to be King of England. John took great heed of Eleanor's advice, as did his deceased brother Richard. When King John went to war against France in 1202, his mother Eleanor was trapped in a castle by the French king's army. John managed to free her, as she had done for her son, King Richard, when he had been taken hostage. Eleanor of Aquitaine died in 1204 at the abbey of Fontevrault, which she had long patronized. She is buried there, as are Henry II and Richard the Lionheart.

The Church Abbey

Aside from her father, one of her greatest influences on her life was the church abbey of Fontevrault. William X, as his father before him, was a patron of the troubadours and storytellers. Growing up in his court, Eleanor developed a lifelong love of music and literature. Eleanor received an excellent education from her proud father. Her travels through Aquitaine prepared her for her future role as Queen. It was well known that Eleanor and her father were very close, so when he died suddenly of food poisoning during a religious pilgrimage, it must have been quite a shock for her. Her greatest influence besides her Father Duke William was the church of France and it unique form of platonic learning, which was quite advanced compared to that of the Church of Rome.

Spiritual goods

If one looks beyond the rigid ideas of the twelfth-century Cistercians order, the entire movement of religious reform, of which Citeaux was but a part, it is clear that women, as well as men, were profoundly influenced by the wandering preachers, hermits, and reforming monks who spread new ideas of religion from mid-eleventh century onwards. A woman's desire for a life of asceticism and prayer is most clearly seen in the abbey of Fontevrault, but it was also apparent in the more unorthodox religious movements, and it had its effect on orders generally considered orders for men. Women could, and did, put pressure on the religious houses for men, often succeeding in gaining for themselves such concessions as "part and participation in the spiritual goods.

Women’s education

Eleanor's spiritual influence contributed to the rising changes that helped women in the areas of education and religion. Furthermore, it helped pave the way for other women that had little chance of survival after a divorce. Her so-called "Courts of Love" idea may have been an idea born centuries too soon, yet it did gain momentum as the centuries progressed. Allowing women to have interaction with men in the field of spirituality that was previously restricted to men, seemed revolutionary. Often, at the age of seven or eight, girls became ladies in waiting, frequently being sent to monasteries or nunneries to be trained toward literacy. This training allowed the girls to not only learn to read, but to function as the manager of the broad socioeconomic complexes that would come under her control when married or joining a religious order. Young women and widows who did not wish to join the traditional sanctioned institutions of marriage, home, or nunnery, had literally no options within society. Unlike their male counterparts, women writers of medieval times were left with little chance of wide-spread circulation of their works.

Matrimonial covenants

The life works of Eleanor of Aquitaine was a driving force behind joining France and England together in one dual bond of matrimonial covenants. She was not only wife to two Kings, but also mother of two kings as well. Her radical ideas of marriage and the concept of "Courtly Love" for women in medieval times spawned numerous ideas for advancing the rights of women. A woman who lost her husband was often left with no alternatives but to turn to baser means of support."...The study of court records, still at an early stage, has shown how halting were the changes made in dealing with moral issues, especially divorce. Often relatively few divorce cases were brought, or if they were initiated, no more were actually granted than the proportion of annulments formerly given by the Catholic Church, roughly one in four. Marriage was seen as an economic institution which should not be dissolved if at all possible, and every effort at reconciliation enforced on the parties. Even when divorces were granted, the property settlements often favored the husbands..." Eleanor it was said fulfilled a prophecy, "...The eagle of the broken bond shall rejoice in the third nestling. They called the queen the eagle because she stretched out her wings over two kingdoms -- France and England. The broken bond referred to Eleanor's two broken marriages, and Richard, her third son, was the third nestling, the one who would raise his mother's name to great glory..."

Link to Architecture of the Chartres

Works cited
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noble et al.










Crusades, Eleanor Of Aquitaine, Female Hero, France, Important Women In Medieval History, Life Of A Mother, Queen, Romance

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author avatar Highlander1
I enjoy writing essays and fiction concerning all aspects of the sciences, particularly how they affect the world. History is a circle after all!

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author avatar Jerry Walch
12th Jan 2011 (#)

Another interesting and information packed read. You seem to be at your best when writing these articles.

Well done.

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author avatar christopheranton
12th Jan 2011 (#)

Top rate.
Thank you .
Very well researched, and very well written

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author avatar Denise O
23rd Jan 2011 (#)

I agree, well researched and well written. Great read.
Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar Dopeyfrog
29th Feb 2012 (#)

very well done :)
top rate! very informative :)

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