Alianora Regina Anglorum: Eleanor of Aquitaine and Her Anglo-Norman Predecessors as Queens of England
The outlines of Eleanor of Aquitaines career as queen of England and France are well known to the scholarly community The story of her life as it is so often presented to us is replete, in all the wrong proportions, with dramatic elements of wealth, beauty, power, motherhood, sexual misadventure, and marriages gone awry The extremes that describe Eleanor—her wealth, her relationships with her royal husbands and sons, her reputation as a poet and patroness, her longevity—make it easy to dismiss her as an exception to the silence, passivity and anonymity that we “know” were the lot of most medieval women (and, for that matter, most medieval men). But how well do we “know” Eleanor? Personally, perhaps as well as we ever can; there are shadows in any reasonable portrait of her that we can draw from the sources. We “know” her lineage—but what we really know are names and a few legends surrounding her troubadour ancestors. We know nothing of her early education or to what extent she was exposed to the courtly culture of southern France before she wed King Louis VII and went to live in Paris. The number of literary works that can actually be linked to her patronage is surprisingly limited. Her patrimony brought unprecedented wealth and territory to the Capetian and Angevin monarchies, but, again, there is much to be learned about her relationships to these rich southern domains throughout her long life. Finally, we know much about Eleanor’s marriages, her children, and family troubles—but nothing of her personal views on marriage, childbirth, childrearing, or her relationships with most of her grown children.1
KeywordsThirteenth Century Twelfth Century Royal Family Opus Omnia Narrative Source
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