Eleanor of Aquitaine
Much has been written about the historical life of Eleanor of Aquitane. Her life, Undoubtedly reads like legend, at least in part because it is. It is fairly safe to say that the world had never seen a woman like Eleanor of Aquitane, and it is doubtful that there has been a woman since who could rival her power, intelligence, beauty and sheer force of will.
Like many other women of her time Eleanor came from a long line of noble and royal blood. Her lineage can be traced back to the earliest kings of both England and France.(follow link to take a look at Eleanor’s very long family tree http://www.my-ged.com/db/page/scokin/12251) Her father William X was the son of France’s first troubadour, William IX and Eleanor’s early life was saturated with culture and learning. The court of her father and grandfather was thought to be the main culture center of the time. At age 15, with her father’s passing, Eleanor became the sole heiress and ruler of the largest duchy in France – Aquitane. Eleanor was then betrothed to Louis VII of France in order to unite their vast territories. In fifteen years however, Eleanor’s marriage and queenship were over. The pope on the pretext of close kinship ties annulled her unhappy marriage to Louis. At age 30 Eleanor had given up her throne and her daughters and returned to Aquitane to rule. Within a few years Eleanor was married to Henry Plantengent, the Duke of Normandy and ruler of the second most powerful duchy in France (second to her own Aquitane). In 1154 Henry was crowned King of England and Eleanor was now Queen of England, duchess of Aquitane and duchess of Normandy. Eleanor and Henry had eight children together, including Richard the Lionheart and John. In 1173, after her marriage to Henry was doomed to fail (due in part to his numerous affairs) Eleanor with the help of her sons John, Richard and Geoffrey led a revolt against her husband. Fearing her ambitions, Henry had Eleanor imprisoned until his death in 1189.
Eleanor’s life was obviously a very complex network of events and relationships. However, the nuances and specificities of this compelling woman’s extraordinary life can not fully be explored here. For a more in depth historical analysis of Eleanor’s life the following web sites and link sites have proved themselves to be invaluable. http://www.millersv.edu/~english/homepage/duncan/medfem/eleanor1.html, http://www.womeninworldhistory.com/heroine2.html, http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/british_royal_history/17621, http://www.fidnet.com/~weid/medievalpeople.htm#eleanor, http://www.xs4all.nl/~kvenjb/favour.htm, http://www.multimedia.calpoly.edu/libarts/dschwart/engl513/courtly/eleano2.htm
The truly compelling questions of Eleanor’s life revolve around how she found the pure strength of will to live the life that she did as a woman. She undoubtedly had an enormous amount of power, certainly more than any woman before her, and arguably more than any woman since....