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Eleanor of Aquitaine Select References

Select Sources

- The Art of Love - Andreas Cappelanus. 1169-73?

  1. - Weir, Alison., Eleanor of Aquitaine : a Life, Ballantine, London, 1999.

  2. -Turner, Ralf V., Eleanor of Aquitaine, Yale University Press, London, 2009.

  3. -Bonnie Wheeler, and John Parsons, Eleanor of Aquitaine : Lord and Lady, Palgrave Macmillan, 2002 (especially the first essay by Elizabeth A.R. Brown)

  4. -Kelly, Amy, Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Four Kings, Cambridge, The Harvard University Near, 1955

  5. -Owen, D.D.R, Eleanor of Aquitaine: Queen and Legend, Blackwell Publishers, 1993.

  6. -Lomenec’h, Gerard, Alienor d’Aquitaine et les Troubadours, Editions Sud Ouest, 1997.

  7. -Moore, John C., Love in Twelfth Century France, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1972.

  8. -Abelard, Peter, Priscilla Troop (Translator), Yes and No - The Complete English Translation of Peter Abelard's Sic et Non, MedievalMS, 2008.

  9. -Abelard, Peter & Heloise, translated by Betty Radice, The Letters of Abelard and Heloise, Penguin Classics, 1974.

Eleanor’s letters (partial) in Latin with some translations

Links of interest

    Women in power 1100-1150,
    Women in power 1150-1200, (reconstruction of Ombriere Palace)

Informal books of background interest

   Rinser, Luise, Abelard’s Love, translated by Jean Snook, University of Nebraska Press, 1998.

    Rutherfurd, Edward, Sarum, Arrow Books, 1998

    Tarr, Judith, Queen of Swords, Forge-Tom Doherty and Associates, 1997. (about Queen Melisende)

    Severin, Tim, Crusader: By Horse to Jerusalem, Hutchinson, London, 1989 (factual road trip taken in modern times compared to historical notes)

    Ghosh, Amitav, In an Antique Land: (review at Goodreads, the examination of Indo-Arab-Jewish trade in Eleanor’s time.)

New Reading for 2015

Yalom, Marilyn, How The French Invented Love, Harper Perennial, 2012.


Bordeaux, Paris, Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem, Rome, London, Poitier, Salisbury, Fontevraud


Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the wealthiest, most powerful woman in medieval Europe. She was the Queen of France at age 13, and Queen of England at age 30. That is history.

Her story is of a parentless self-possessed girl who comes to life as a controversial leader who challenges traditional definitions of faith, love, justice, and power. She grows into a woman establishing the Western traditions of courtly manners, chivalry, family empire, and a codified concept of love. She did so by a clever centering within a warriors’s code of honor, a loving, personal respect for women. At the same time she balanced this goal within the church supporting the growing culture of Mary. As the young Queen of France to Louis 7th, after a year of recruiting, culminating in an inspirational appeal at Vezelay, the Latin named Helienordis launched a thousand warrior trains headlong into the Second Crusade. The pilgrim way was an amazing journey. With all of her ability, even drawing sword and shield high in the mountains of Turkey, she enjoyed the only victorious French battle of the crusade. Eleanor was unable to overcome her fatally religious husband who made disastrous mistakes, losing tens of thousands on the way. Barely reaching the shores of the Holy Land, Eleanor appealed to Louis to rebuild his army in Antioch and continue the mission to recapture Edessa. This was the will of Raymond, her uncle, and queen Melisende of Jerusalem. Eleanor made a stand, threatening divorce to continue the Holy mission. Louis unwisely set fire to Antioch and forced her to Jerusalem. In an unadvised assault on Damascus King Louis suffered disastrous defeat, making the devout 2nd Crusade the worst Holy War ever fought. With a loss of faith in church and king survivors, searched for deeper human values, a personal code.

Taking a separate ship home from her husband, Eleanor survived a treacherous voyage over sea. She arranged that the king divorce her, and in a secret marriage with a foe he was fighting , (very much a scene from Romeo & Juliet), she joined her Aquitaine power to Norman-Angevin Henri, one of the last men to retain the French sense of conquest. He retook the English island and she became the Queen of England. After giving twelve births, Eleanor found Henri to be a murderous philandering husband. They separated and she raised the children which began her life project, the radical courts of mannered love in her Aquitaine homeland. Troubadours and knights helped raise her children. At the moment she launched Europe’s finest court of manners — Henri had Archbishop Becket murdered. His impunity caused a European uprising. The disenfranchised sons fought to retake the throne with the queen’s agreement. Henri seized Eleanor to imprison her for life, and gained full control of her lands, wealth, and unchallenged control of the children.

After sixteen years, King Henri was slain in battle by her loyal son Richard the Lionheart. Outliving her jailor Eleanor emerged as England’s Queen Regent directing the Third Crusade with Richard. She suffered out the century to see the cruelty and avarice of the Fourth Crusade conducted by knights who no longer lived by a code of chivalry. They pillaged Byzantium without completing their vowed pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

By her life’s end, Eleanor of Aquitaine assisted her children in obtaining the thrones of every nation in Europe: France, England, Spain, Italy, and Germany – a rather triumphant ending to a highly turbulent life.

* 1124 is the recent consensus of Eleanor scholars about her birth year, replacing the earlier postulation of 1122.


Who was Eleanor of Aquitaine?

(Aliénor d'Aquitaine 1124*-1204)