Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Eleanor Of Aquitaine

Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the most powerful women in the Middle Ages. She was married to Louis VII King of France, and after that marriage was annulled, she married Henry II King of England. Eleanor was very involved in politics from an early age because she inherited Aquitaine, which was important politically. She is also well known for being the mother of Richard the Lionheart and Prince John. She lived to be eighty-two years old.

In Eleanor of Aquitaine Weir does an excellent job separating fact from fiction. There are stories and songs about Eleanor that grew over the years, and many of them were untrue. I liked that these stories about her were addressed, but not used as a factual representation of Eleanor's life. There was an excellent discussion on why these stories would have developed, and why they could not be true.

This was a well researched biography. Despite the lack of sources such as letters and diaries, Weir manages to piece together Eleanor's life from Court records and other contemporary sources. There is a lot of discussion of Henry II to help determine what Eleanor would have been doing, particularly when there is a lack of record about her. While I wish there had been less of Henry II in the book, I think this was unavoidable, and it was handled well.

I really liked this biography. Weir does excellent research, and presents her findings in an engaging way. If you are interested in Eleanor or this time period, I recommend reading this book.

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