'ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE: BY THE WRATH OF GOD, QUEEN OF ENGLAND'

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9780712673174: 'ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE: BY THE WRATH OF GOD, QUEEN OF ENGLAND'

Eleanor of Aquitaine was a remarkable woman. She was an important factor in the reign of four kings, lived to the ripe old age of 82, bore 10 children and outlived all but two of them. Her sons were kings of England and her daughters queens of Castile and Sicily, while her later descendants included a Holy Roman emperor and kings of France and Spain, as well as a couple of saints. In an age of men, she was indeed a powerful woman.

Born in 1122 into the sophisticated and cultured court of Poitiers, Eleanor of Aquitaine came of age in a world of luxury, bloody combat, and unbridled ambition. At only fifteen, she inherited one of the great fortunes of Europe - the prize duchy of Aquitaine - yet was forced to submit to a union with the handsome but sexually withholding Louis VII, the teenage king of France. The marriage endured for fifteen fraught years, until Eleanor finally succeeded in having it annulled - only to enter an even stormier match with Henry of Anjou, who would soon ascend to the English throne as Henry II.

With astonishing historic detail, mesmerizing pageantry, and irresistible accounts of royal scandal and intrigue, Weir re-creates not only a remarkable personality, but a magnificent past era. As Weir traces the fascinating intersection of public and private lives in Europe's twelfth-century courts, Eleanor comes to life as a complex, boldly original woman who transcended the mores of society. Later, after sixteen years of imprisonment for plotting to overthrow Henry, the humbled Queen emerged, at age sixty-seven, to rule England.

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Review:

Combining the pace and descriptive quality of a novel with the authority of a textbook, Alison Weir's study of the revered and reviled Eleanor of Aquitaine should be valuable to anyone with an interest in medieval European history. Wife of Louis VII of France and subsequently of Henry II of England, and mother of Richard "the Lion-Hearted," Eleanor played a prominent part in the politics of the 12th century. The author of a number of other books on the medieval period ( Life of Elizabeth I, The Children of Henry VIII), Weir brings all the color and ever-present dangers of Eleanor's world to life, filling the text with absorbing background detail and revelatory contemporary anecdotes. She is concerned throughout to make critical analysis of the primary sources, the later myths about Eleanor, and other modern biographies. This results in a fresh and thoughtful perspective on the energetic life of a determined and ambitious woman living with the sexism, excesses, and violence of a society in which the word of a single man could condemn thousands to death. Eleanor of Aquitaine is a vivacious but scholarly book with extensive notes and references, giving an objective and rich account of the staunch Eleanor, her feuding family and her complex and unstable world. --Karen Tiley, Amazon.co.uk

From the Inside Flap:

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. In this beautifully written biography, Alison Weir paints a vibrant portrait of this truly exceptional woman, and provides new insights into her intimate world. 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 past era.

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ALISON WEIR
Published by PIMLICO (2000)
ISBN 10: 0712673172 ISBN 13: 9780712673174
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