Captive Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine

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9780345511874: Captive Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine

Having proven herself a gifted and engaging novelist with her portrayals of Queen Elizabeth I in The Lady Elizabeth and Lady Jane Grey in Innocent Traitor, New York Times bestselling author Alison Weir now harks back to the twelfth century with a sensuous and tempestuous tale that brings vividly to life England’s most passionate—and destructive—royal couple: Eleanor of Aquitaine and King Henry II.

   
Nearing her thirtieth birthday, Eleanor has spent the past dozen frustrating years as consort to the pious King Louis VII of France. For all its political advantages, the marriage has brought Eleanor only increasing unhappiness—and daughters instead of the hoped-for male heir. But when the young and dynamic Henry of Anjou arrives at the French court, Eleanor sees a way out of her discontent. For even as their eyes meet for the first time, the seductive Eleanor and the virile Henry know that theirs is a passion that could ignite the world.
   
Returning to her duchy of Aquitaine after the annulment of her marriage to Louis, Eleanor immediately sends for Henry, the future King of England, to come and marry her. The union of this royal couple will create a vast empire that stretches from the Scottish border to the Pyrenees, and marks the beginning of the celebrated Plantagenet dynasty.

But Henry and Eleanor’s marriage, charged with physical heat, begins a fiery downward spiral marred by power struggles, betrayals, bitter rivalries, and a devil’s brood of young Plantagenets—including Richard the Lionheart and the future King John. Early on, Eleanor must endure Henry’s formidable mother, the Empress Matilda, as well as his infidelities, while in later years, Henry’s friendship with Thomas Becket will lead to a deadly rivalry. Eventually, as the couple’s rebellious sons grow impatient for power, the scene is set for a vicious and tragic conflict that will engulf both Eleanor and Henry.
   
Vivid in detail, epic in scope, Captive Queen is an astounding and brilliantly wrought historical novel that encompasses the building of an empire and the monumental story of a royal marriage.
 

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Interesting Facts About Eleanor of Aquitaine, from Alison Weir

  • Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204) is arguably the most important and admired female figure in medieval European history.
  • Captive Queen tells the epic and dramatic tale of this strong and remarkable woman who held her own in a male-dominated world.
  • Eleanor was queen first to Louis VII of France and then to Henry II of England.
  • Her lands comprised half of what is now France, making her the greatest heiress in Europe. The transfer of that landed inheritance, first to France and then to England, set the pattern of European diplomacy and warfare for the next four centuries.
  • Her marriage to Henry II of England, which is the focus of Captive Queen, was one of the most passionate and tempestuous in history. Both Eleanor and Henry were larger-than-life, charismatic characters.
  • Eleanor was a true daughter of the south of France, raised in a society in which women were valued more highly than elsewhere, and morals were lax. She grew up imbued with the culture and poetry of the troubadours, and her beauty was famous.
  • Eleanor’s reputation was notorious, in her own lifetime and increasingly thereafter. She was a sensual woman with little regard for the moral precepts of her day, and she had adulterous affairs with several men, including her uncle and her future father-in-law.
  • Many of the romantic or sinister legends that have attached themselves to Eleanor’s name center upon her rival, Henry’s mistress, Rosamund de Clifford. In this novel, Alison Weir has made creative use of those legends.
  • Eleanor bore eleven children—among them Richard the Lion Heart, renowned as the greatest crusader in Christendom, and the notorious King John, who was forced to sign the Magna Carta.
  • The book’s title derives from the fact that Eleanor was a captive in her marriage, loving and hating Henry at the same time. Later on, having dealt him a bitter betrayal, she would become his captive in very truth.
  • Ultimately, Captive Queen is a searing psychological odyssey, an intense exploration of the character and motives of an extraordinary woman.

About the Author:

Alison Weir is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Innocent Traitor and The Lady Elizabeth and several historical biographies, including Mistress of the Monarchy, Queen Isabella, Henry VIII, Eleanor of Aquitaine, The Life of Elizabeth I, and The Six Wives of Henry VIII. She lives in Surrey, England with her husband and two children.

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