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Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life

af Alison Weir

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
2,832364,926 (3.87)86
In this beautifully written biography, Alison Weir paints a vibrant portrait of a truly exceptional woman and provides new insights into her intimate world. Renowned in her time for being the most beautiful woman in Europe, the wife of two kings and mother of three, Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the great heroines of the Middle Ages. At a time when women were regarded as little more than chattel, Eleanor managed to defy convention as she exercised power in the political sphere and crucial influence over her husbands and sons. Eleanor of Aquitaine lived a long life of many contrasts, of splendor and desolation, power and peril, and in this stunning narrative, Weir captures the woman??and the queen??in all her glory. With astonishing historic detail, mesmerizing pageantry, and irresistible accounts of royal scandal and intrigue, she recreates not only a remarkable personality but a magnificent pas… (mere)
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Eleanor of Aquitaine was blessed with a long and eventful life where she traveled all over Europe and some of the Middle East. Unfortunately, us readers aren't quite so lucky, as there is very little information surviving about Eleanor's deeds and accomplishments. As a result, Weir must make do with manor records and whether or not her subject is mentioned in the accounts from various chroniclers in order to track her whereabouts. This leaves a very incomplete picture, which is quite frustrating for a reader.

For me, the most interesting part was when Eleanor's son Richard I becomes king and must rely on his mother to drum up support for him in England. Weir spends time talking about how she rounded up the barons of England and made them pledge their loyalty to her son. When he's captured by the Duke of Austria, Weir discusses how she gathered the ransom money and what laws she had to pass to accomplish this. Weir herself says that this period of Eleanor's life is likely what brought her everlasting fame, as she was a beloved queen of England, intelligent and compassionate for her subjects. If only we could've seen more of this Eleanor when she was in her domains of Aquitaine, Gascony, and Poitou, which Weir glosses over. Eleanor is nothing more than "their beloved duchess" and she keeps them quiet because she "understands their ways", but very little is said beyond that.

Since Eleanor's life would only take about a hundred pages to relate, Weir fills the book by regaling the political landscape of the time. There is a lot of information about Eleanor's husbands, Louis VII and Henry II, as well as her sons. It's certainly one way to talk about Eleanor's life, and for those not familiar with the politics at this time, it's very interesting. Personally, I found it dull because all I wanted was to read about Eleanor, and I was sorely disappointed to find her largely missing.

Weir makes it her mission to dismantle all of the myths around Eleanor, but she seems to be a bit selective in this regard. While she states that the 'Court of Love' was nonexistent, she defends it as probable that Eleanor slept with her uncle Raymond as well as Henry's father, Geoffrey of Anjou. She also pushes back against the idea that Richard I was homosexual, even though most modern historians have accepted this because none of the historians at the time commented on it. As a result, this biography, while informative from a high level, general perspective, is still pretty lacking in fundamental ways.

That said, I wouldn't rate this book lower than three stars. It's very well-written and approachable. You don't need to have a PhD to understand this book. Additionally, it's not Weir's fault that information regarding Eleanor is so sparse. The only thing we know Eleanor owned was an elaborate vase. Beyond that, not much has survived. Weir did what she could with the information available to her. It's frustrating, but I do appreciate even this glimpse into Eleanor's exciting life. ( )
  readerbug2 | Nov 16, 2023 |
Well written book that's easy to read despite the complexity of people and politics. It's not my period and this provided a great primer full of fascinating bits and bobs. ( )
  expatscot | Sep 26, 2023 |
From reading [THE CAPTIVE QUEEN], I remembered how happy Eleanor originally was
with her Henry of Anjou and how she only wanted to live back home in Aquitaine.

With this book, I was again shocked that she would allow the barbarity of her son Richard to be approved
and continued by her in her own country.

This non fiction version of Eleanor's life included Maps! Photos!
while the author delivered detailed and incisive information about,
despite her intelligence, strength, perseverance, and resolution,
this not very admirable woman. ( )
  m.belljackson | Apr 11, 2023 |
Eleonora Akvitánská patřila k předním a zároveň nejspornějším ženským osobnostem středověku. Byla krásná, inteligentní a svéhlavá a za života se o ní šířily nejrůznější, a zdaleka nikoli nepodložené pikantní zvěsti. Vyrostla na nevázaném okcitánském dvoře, na němž působili slavní trubadúři, a dokonce se tvrdilo, že předsedala soudům lásky.
Nejprve se provdala za francouzského krále Ludvíka VII. a poté za anglického Jindřicha II., jemuž porodila syny Richarda Lví srdce a Jana Bezzemka. Dožila se dvaaosmdesáti let, ale protivenství a tragédie z mladších let překonala teprve v pokročilém věku a stala se prakticky suverénní vládkyní Anglie. ( )
  Hanita73 | Aug 30, 2021 |
A very detailed, historically deep biography of this remarkable woman's life. Told with a great deal of background on Eleanor's lineage, such as the House of Anjou and the Houses of Blois and Champagne (and with family trees to help make sense of it all) as well as great detail on both Louis VII and Henry II. Those details pull in the importance of Eleanor's land holdings and power in a way that make her remarkable life even more captivating.

Ms. Weir also goes into great detail about the battles her sons waged, especially Richard I, "the Lionheart," on her/their territories in Blois, Aquitaine, and other kingdoms of modern-day France. And she also points out that Richard I was the King of England with only 10 months spent in his kingdom. Just 10 months!

But on to Eleanor. She managed to survive 10 years as a prisoner of her husband (having spent last year in lockdown I can appreciate her sanity a whole lot more), and was taken prisoner because she had the brains and guile to counsel her sons to fight for their own kingdoms. And the Second Crusade? She had the audacity to come along and bring other Cruisaders' wives and their courts along with her. Sadly, at the end of the Crusade, many were left to starve or die of Plague because they did not have the wealth to buy transit on the ships back to Aquitaine/Blois/Anjou.

My main gripe with this book is the off-hand dismissal of two facets of Eleanor's life and influence: the Courts of Love and the historical background of Robin Hood. The first is described at length as nothing more than a fabrication by a chaplain at the court of Marie de Champagne, leaving all the other centuries' worth of historical and biographical references of Eleanor presiding over this rich artistic lineage as nothing more than made up stories. For the Robin Hood legend, dismissing the evidence of the historical Robin Hood as "sparse and confusing" and belonging to the 16th Century is troubling in the context of her otherwise strong insistence of historical research and accuracy. ( )
  threadnsong | Jul 10, 2021 |
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In this beautifully written biography, Alison Weir paints a vibrant portrait of a truly exceptional woman and provides new insights into her intimate world. Renowned in her time for being the most beautiful woman in Europe, the wife of two kings and mother of three, Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the great heroines of the Middle Ages. At a time when women were regarded as little more than chattel, Eleanor managed to defy convention as she exercised power in the political sphere and crucial influence over her husbands and sons. Eleanor of Aquitaine lived a long life of many contrasts, of splendor and desolation, power and peril, and in this stunning narrative, Weir captures the woman??and the queen??in all her glory. With astonishing historic detail, mesmerizing pageantry, and irresistible accounts of royal scandal and intrigue, she recreates not only a remarkable personality but a magnificent pas

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