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Eleanor Of Aquitaine Essay

2736 words - 11 pages

Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204) ruled some of the wealthiest European areas such as Aquitaine and England. Her spirit and way of ruling caused “ripples in 12th century society.” She enjoyed a privileged girlhood and was born into a wealthy family, but in difficult times. During this time, women held a subordinate role in society, as they were considered to be the weaker gender. Very few women received an education; instead they learned domestic skills at home. Eleanor and her mother were two notable exceptions. Eleanor learned how to read in Bertran de Born [the language of Aquitaine] and also received instruction in Latin. She enjoyed the arts and especially loved music. In addition to ...view middle of the document...

She constantly manipulated him using her charm and character. The Christian Church saw Eleanor as a threat to its stability because of her unique and powerful role in society. After 15 years, she had two daughters, but there was still no male heir to the throne. Passing the crown down from father to son had led to the success of the Capetian dynasty causing it to become a large issue. In 1152, Eleanor and Louis got divorced because they were declared third cousins once removed. Many think the real reason was the lack of a male heir.
Eleanor of Aquitaine used her power and beauty to attract powerful and important men. On May 18, 1152, two months after she divorced Louis, Eleanor married Duke Henry of Normandy. Two years later, on December 19, 1154, Henry and Eleanor were crowned King and Queen of England. Together they had five daughters and three sons. As Queen of England, Eleanor administered justice in Henry’s absence and was in charge of land disputes and laws and taxes. Ohio State University expert Robert Naranjo describes her style of ruling as “clear-headed and firm, indeed dictoral.” Henry was very influential in the development of institutions so her administrative talents were not needed. During their reign, order was re-established to the declining government, which then restored public confidence in the monarchy. The wealth and prestige of the crown was increased while also controlling the power of others. During crisis, Eleanor and Henry were calm and decisive leading to the success of England. In 1165, Henry and Rosamund de Clifford had an affair, which made Eleanor furious and led to their separation in 1168. After this, Eleanor returned to Aquitaine for political reasons. December 25, 1168 marked the beginning of a productive period in which Eleanor governed Aquitaine. She had more power and was able to involve herself in everyday affairs. At first, Eleanor supported and cooperated with Henry. Later, Eleanor began secretly plotting to ensure that loyalty was to her. This began the revolt against Henry.
Eleanor used her influence over her sons Richard and Geoffrey to get them to join with Louis le Jeune [her ex-husband] in a revolt against their father [Henry]. In 1173, Eleanor supported Louis against Henry in order to ensure that her sons would inherit Aquitaine. If Henry were defeated, she would also have more power. She influenced her sons and “skillfully manipulated a varied set of regional grievances against Henry in a concentrated movement.” Richard and Geoffrey followed Eleanor’s advice and sided with her [their mother] over their father. Eventually, Henry found out and may have employed spies to watch Eleanor and their sons. In a letter from Peter Blois to Eleanor, commissioned by Henry, Henry requests that Eleanor stops the revolt and attempts to chastise her, saying that she is subject to his power. Blois writes that a person who separates a married couple “becomes a transgressor of divine commandment.” ...

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