Eleanor of Aquitaine
Eleanor of Aquitaine, the mother of King Richard and Count John, is the wealthiest and most dynamic woman of the time. She is lively, intelligent, educated and strong willed. She has popularised the ideas of chivalry and courtly love throughout western Europe. Poets still sing of her beauty.
Eleanor was the eldest child of William X, Duke of Aquitaine, and Aenor de Chatellerault, daughter of the Viscount of Chatellerault. Eleanor had an excellent education. She can read and write Latin, and is well versed in music and literature. She was schooled in arithmetic, astronomy and history as well as household management and domestic arts such as embroidery. She is skilled in conversation, dancing and boardgames such as chess and backgammon, and was a noted rider, hawker and hunter in her younger days. She can sing and play the harp. In 1130, at the age of 8, she became heir presumptive to her father's vast estates, including the Duchy of Aquitaine and the County of Poitou, when her mother and younger brother died. She inherited these estates in 1137, at the age of 15, when her father died on pilgrimage, becoming Duchess of Aquitaine and Countess of Poitou in her own right, and the most eligible heiress in Europe. Her first husband was Louis, Crown Prince of France, who she married on 25 July 1137 when whe was 15 and he 17. Louis' father, King Louis the Fat, died soon after their wedding and Louis and Eleanor became King and Queen-Consort of France. Their marriage was not happy. She was lively and educated, he pious and solemn. For many years they were childless - he blamed her. Their first daughter, Marie (now Countess of Champagne) was born in 1146. She accompanied her husband on Crusade to the Holy Land in 1147. While on crusade she and her ladies reputedly wore armour and carried arms in imitation of the Amazons. Nevertheless, the couple were growing apart. On their return from the Crusade in 1149 they applied to Pope Eugene III for an annulment on grounds of consanguinity, which he refused and ordered them to reconsummate their marriage in a bed he had specially prepared. Thus was conceived their second child, Alix (now Countess of Blois) who was born in 1150. They had no other children. Despite the Pope's attempts at forcing a reconciliation, Louis and Eleanor's marriage turned even sourer. They obtained an annulment on grounds of consanguinity on 21 March 1152. Eleanor's lands of Aquitaine and Poitou returned to her control, and she was once again an eligible heiress. On her return to Paris, two nobles - Theobald, Count of Blois, and Geoffrey, Count of Nantes - attempted to kidnap and marry her. Within weeks, Eleanor sent envoys to Henry Plantagenet, Duke of Normandy and heir to the County of Anjou, asking for his hand in marriage. He was younger than her - he 17, she 30. He was also the son of Empress Matilda, whose claims to the English throne spawned civil war with the usurper Stephen. Henry's attempts to press this claim ended in embarassing failure, with Stephen patronisingly paying Henry's troops and escorting him from England. Henry's fortunes changed when Stephen's eldest son Eustace died in 1152, and Stephen acknowledged him as his heir. He inherited the throne on Stephen's death in 1154. Eleanor rapidly bore him sons, who would grow to be known as the Devil's Brood. In 1173, following the rebellion of their sons Henry, Geoffrey and Richard, Henry imprisoned Eleanor for fomenting the rebellion. She remained a prisoner for 16 years until Henry's death 1189. One of her son Richard's first acts as king of England was to send William Marshal to release her. Eleanor accompanied King Richard on Crusade, but returned to England in 1191 with Walter de Coutances to settle the differences between her son John, Count of Mortain and Chief Justiciar William Longchamp.
Honorary & Occupational Titles
Queen of England, Duchess of Aquitaine
Date of Death
1 April 1204
Year of Birth
1122 AD 70 Years old