Eleanor of Aquitaine Reconsidered: The Woman and Her Seasons
Eleanor of Aquitaine is a woman who, over the centuries, has seen many seasons. Born in 1124 in the south of France, in or near Poitiers, she lived for eighty years, dying at the end of March 1204 and being buried at the abbey of Fontevraud where she had lived for a decade.1 Since her death, for almost 800 years, she has proved perpetually fascinating and has been many things to many people. She has intrigued historians of literature, culture, art, politics, and institutions; novelists, cinemasts, and playwrights; and a horde of people who know little more about the Middle Ages than that she (and Joan of Arc) lived then. Despite (and in part because of) the wealth of books and articles dedicated to her, she herself remains elusive. Her contemporaries and near-contemporaries are less informative about her than they are about her husbands, Louis VII of France (1120–80; r. 1137–80) and Henry II of England (1133–89; r. 1154–89). Still, “the not inconsiderable bulk of record material” has cast light on many aspects of her numerous activities and interests, and will, in future, yield more information about her patronage of religious foundations and the people, both French and English, who served in her household.2
KeywordsBritish Museum Thirteenth Century Twelfth Century Genealogical History York Public Library
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