As Duchess of Aquitaine, Eleanor was the most eligible bride in Europe. Three months after she became duchess, she married King Louis VII of France, son of her guardian, King Louis VI. As Queen of France, she participated in the unsuccessful Second Crusade. Soon afterwards, Eleanor sought an annulment of her marriage, but her request was rejected by Pope Eugene III. However, after the birth of her second daughter Alix, Louis agreed to an annulment, as fifteen years of marriage had not produced a son. The marriage was annulled on 11 March 1152 on the grounds of consanguinity within the fourth degree. Their daughters were declared legitimate and custody was awarded to Louis, while Eleanor's lands were restored to her.
As soon as the annulment was granted, Eleanor became engaged to Henry, Duke of Normandy and Count of Anjou, who became King Henry II of England in 1154. Henry was her third cousin (cousin of the third degree), and eleven years younger. The couple married on 18 May 1152 (Whit Sunday), eight weeks after the annulment of Eleanor's first marriage, in a cathedral in Poitiers, France. Over the next thirteen years, she bore Henry eight children: five sons, three of whom would become kings; and three daughters. However, Henry and Eleanor eventually became estranged. Henry imprisoned her in 1173 for supporting her son Henry's revolt against her husband. She was not released until 6 July 1189, when Henry died and their son ascended the English throne as Richard I.
Now queen dowager, Eleanor acted as regent while Richard went on the Third Crusade; on his return Richard was captured and held prisoner. Eleanor lived well into the reign of her youngest son, John. She outlived all her children except for John and Eleanor.
Eleanor (or Aliénor) was the oldest of three children of William X, Duke of Aquitaine, whose glittering ducal court was renowned in early 12th-century Europe, and his wife, Aenor de Châtellerault, the daughter of Aimery I, Viscount of Châtellerault, and Dangerose de l' Isle Bouchard, who was William IX's longtime mistress as well as Eleanor's maternal grandmother. Her parents' marriage had been arranged by Dangerose with her paternal grandfather William IX.
Eleanor is said to have been named for her mother Aenor and called Aliénor from the Latin language alia Aenor, which means the other Aenor. It became Eléanor in the langues d'oïl of Northern France and Eleanor in English. There was, however, another prominent Eleanor before her: Eleanor of Normandy, an aunt of William the Conqueror, who lived a century earlier than Eleanor of Aquitaine. In Paris as the Queen of France she was called Helienordis, her honorific name as written in the Latin epistles.
By all accounts, Eleanor's father ensured that she had the best possible education. Eleanor came to learn arithmetic, the constellations, and history. She did learn domestic skills such as household management and the needle arts of embroidery, needlepoint, sewing, spinning, and weaving. Eleanor ended up developing skills in conversation, dancing, games such as backgammon, checkers, and chess, playing the harp, and singing. Although her native tongue was Poitevin, she was taught to read and speak Latin language, was well versed in music and literature, and schooled in riding, hawking, and hunting. Eleanor was extroverted, lively, intelligent, and strong-willed. In the spring of 1130, her four-year-old brother William Aigret and their mother died at the castle of Talmont, on Aquitaine's Atlantic coast. Eleanor became the heir presumptive to her father's domains. The Duchy of Aquitaine was the largest and richest province of France; Poitou (where Eleanor spent most of her childhood) and Aquitaine together were almost one-third the size of modern France. Eleanor had only one other legitimate sibling, a younger sister named Aelith, also called Petronilla. Her half brother Joscelin was acknowledged by William X as a son, but not as his heir. That she had another half brother, William, has been discredited. Later, during the first four years of Henry II's reign, her siblings joined Eleanor's royal household.
Eleanor, aged twelve to fifteen, then became the Duchess of Aquitaine, and thus the most eligible heiress in Europe. As these were the days when kidnapping an heiress was seen as a viable option for obtaining a title, William dictated a will on the very day he died that bequeathed his domains to Eleanor and appointed King Louis VI of France as her guardian. William requested the king to take care of both the lands and the duchess, and to also find her a suitable husband. However, until a husband was found, the king had the legal right to Eleanor's lands. The duke also insisted to his companions that his death be kept a secret until Louis was informed – the men were to journey from Saint James of Compostela across the Pyrenees as quickly as possible to call at Bordeaux to notify the archbishop, then to make all speed to Paris to inform the king.
The king of France, known as Louis the Fat, was also gravely ill at that time, suffering from a bout of dysentery from which he appeared unlikely to recover. Despite his impending mortality, Louis remained clear-minded. His heir, Prince Louis, had originally been destined for Cadet branch but became the heir apparent when his older brother, Philip, died from a riding accident in 1131. The death of William, one of the king's most powerful vassals, made available the most desirable duchy in France. While presenting a solemn and dignified face to the grieving Aquitainian messengers, Louis exulted when they departed. Rather than act as guardian to the duchess and duchy, he decided to marry the duchess to his 17-year-old heir and bring Aquitaine under the control of the French crown, thereby greatly increasing the power and prominence of France and its ruling family, the Capets. Within hours the king had arranged for Prince Louis to be married to Eleanor, with Abbot Suger in charge of the wedding arrangements. Prince Louis was sent to Bordeaux with an escort of 500 knights, along with Abbot Suger, Theobald II, Count of Champagne, and Count Ralph.
Louis' tenure as Count of Poitou and Duke of Aquitaine and Gascony lasted only a few days. Although he had been invested as such on 8 August 1137, a messenger gave him the news that Louis VI had died of dysentery on 1 August while Prince Louis and Eleanor were making a tour of the provinces. Thus he became King Louis VII of France. He and Eleanor were anointment and coronation King and Queen of the Franks on Christmas Day of the same year.
Possessing a high-spirited nature, Eleanor was not popular with the staid northerners; according to sources, Louis's mother Adélaide de Maurienne thought her flighty and a bad influence. She was not aided by memories of Constance of Arles, the Provence wife of Robert II, tales of whose immodest dress and language were still told with horror. Eleanor's conduct was repeatedly criticized by church elders, particularly Bernard of Clairvaux and Abbot Suger, as indecorous. The king was madly in love with his beautiful and worldly bride, however, and granted her every whim, even though her behavior baffled and vexed him. Much money went into making the austere Cité Palace in Paris more comfortable for Eleanor's sake.
Louis became involved in a war with Count Theobald by permitting Raoul I, Count of Vermandois and seneschal of France, to repudiate his wife Eléonore of Blois, Theobald's sister, and to marry Petronilla of Aquitaine, Eleanor's sister. Eleanor urged Louis to support her sister's marriage to Count Raoul. Theobald had also offended Louis by siding with the pope in the dispute over Bourges. The war lasted two years (1142–44) and ended with the occupation of Champagne by the royal army. Louis was personally involved in the assault and burning of the town of Vitry. More than a thousand people who sought refuge in the church there died in the flames. Horrified, and desiring an end to the war, Louis attempted to make peace with Theobald in exchange for his support in lifting the interdict on Raoul and Petronilla. This was duly lifted for long enough to allow Theobald's lands to be restored; it was then lowered once more when Raoul refused to repudiate Petronilla, prompting Louis to return to Champagne and ravage it once more.
In June 1144, the king and queen visited the newly built monastic church at Saint-Denis. While there, the queen met with Bernard of Clairvaux, demanding that he use his influence with the Pope to have the excommunication of Petronilla and Raoul lifted, in exchange for which King Louis would make concessions in Champagne and recognise Pierre de la Chatre as Archbishop of Bourges. Dismayed at her attitude, Bernard scolded Eleanor for her lack of penitence and interference in matters of state. In response, Eleanor broke down and meekly excused her behaviour, claiming to be bitter because of her lack of children. In response, Bernard became more kindly towards her: "My child, seek those things which make for peace. Cease to stir up the King against the Church, and urge upon him a better course of action. If you will promise to do this, I in return promise to entreat the merciful Lord to grant you offspring." In a matter of weeks, peace had returned to France: Theobald's provinces were returned and Pierre de la Chatre was installed as Archbishop of Bourges. In April 1145, Eleanor gave birth to a daughter, Marie.
Louis, however, still burned with guilt over the massacre at Vitry and wished to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to atone for his sins. In autumn 1145, Pope Eugene III requested that Louis lead a Crusades to the Middle East to rescue the Crusader states there from disaster. Accordingly, Louis declared on Christmas Day 1145 at Bourges his intention of going on crusade.
The Crusade itself achieved little. Louis was a weak and ineffectual military leader with no skill for maintaining troop discipline or morale, or of making informed and logical tactical decisions. In eastern Europe, the French army was at times hindered by Manuel I Comnenus, the Byzantine Emperor, who feared that the Crusade would jeopardize the tenuous safety of his empire. Notwithstanding, during their three-week stay at Constantinople, Louis was fêted and Eleanor was much admired. She was compared with Penthesilea, mythical queen of the Amazons, by the Greek historian Nicetas Choniates. He added that she gained the epithet chrysopous (golden-foot) from the cloth of gold that decorated and fringed her robe. Louis and Eleanor stayed in the Philopation palace just outside the city walls.
From the moment the Crusaders entered Asia Minor, things began to go badly. The king and queen were still optimistic – the Byzantine Emperor had told them that the German King Conrad had won a great victory against a Turkish army (when in fact the German army had been massacred). However, while camping near Nicea, the remnants of the German army, including a dazed and sick King Conrad, staggered past the French camp, bringing news of their disaster. The French, with what remained of the Germans, then began to march in increasingly disorganized fashion towards Antioch. They were in high spirits on Christmas Eve, when they chose to camp in a lush valley near Ephesus. Here they were ambushed by a Turkish detachment; the French proceeded to slaughter this detachment and appropriate their camp.
Louis then decided to cross the Phrygian mountains directly in the hope of reaching Eleanor's uncle Raymond in Antioch more quickly. As they ascended the mountains, however, the army and the king and queen were horrified to discover the unburied corpses of the previously slaughtered German army.
On the day set for the crossing of Mount Cadmos, Louis chose to take charge of the rear of the column, where the unarmed pilgrims and the baggage trains marched. The vanguard, with which Queen Eleanor marched, was commanded by her Aquitainian vassal Geoffrey de Rancon. Unencumbered by baggage, they reached the summit of Cadmos, where Rancon had been ordered to make camp for the night. Rancon however chose to continue on, deciding in concert with Amadeus III, Count of Savoy (Louis's uncle) that a nearby plateau would make a better campsite: such disobedience was reportedly common.
Accordingly, by mid-afternoon, the rear of the column – believing the day's march to be nearly at an end – was dawdling. This resulted in the army becoming separated, with some having already crossed the summit and others still approaching it. At this point the Turks, who had been following and feinting for many days, seized their opportunity and attacked those who had not yet crossed the summit. The French (both soldiers and pilgrims), taken by surprise, were trapped; those who tried to escape were caught and killed. Many men, horses, and much of the baggage were cast into the canyon below. The chronicler William of Tyre, writing between 1170 and 1184 and thus perhaps too late to be considered historically accurate, placed the blame for this disaster firmly on the amount of baggage (much of it reputedly belonging to Eleanor and her ladies) and the presence of non-combatants.
The king, having scorned royal apparel in favour of a simple pilgrim's tunic, escaped notice (unlike his bodyguards, whose skulls were brutally smashed and limbs severed). He reportedly "nimbly and bravely scaled a rock by making use of some tree roots which God had provided for his safety", and managed to survive the attack. Others were not so fortunate: "No aid came from Heaven, except that night fell."
Official blame for the disaster was placed on Geoffrey de Rancon, who had made the decision to continue, and it was suggested that he be hanged (a suggestion which the king ignored). Since he was Eleanor's vassal, many believed that it was she who had been ultimately responsible for the change in plan, and thus the massacre. This did nothing for her popularity in Christendom – she was also blamed for the size of the baggage train and the fact that her Aquitainian soldiers had marched at the front, thus not involved in the fight. Continuing on, the army became split, with the commoners marching toward Antioch and the royalty traveling by sea. When most of the land army arrived, the king and queen had a profound dispute. Some, such as John of Salisbury and William of Tyre, say Eleanor's reputation was sullied by rumours of an affair with her uncle Raymond. However, this may have been a ruse, as Raymond through Eleanor tried to sway Louis forcibly to use his army to attack the actual Muslim encampment at nearby Aleppo, gateway to retaking Edessa, by papal decree the objective of the Crusade. Although this was perhaps the better military plan, Louis was not keen to fight in northern Syria. One of Louis's avowed Crusade goals was to journey in pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and he stated his intention to continue. Reputedly Eleanor then requested to stay with Raymond and brought up the matter of consanguinity – the fact that she and her husband, King Louis, were too closely related. This was grounds for divorce in the medieval period. Rather than allowing her to stay, Louis took Eleanor from Antioch against her will and continued on to Jerusalem with his dwindling army.
This episode humiliated Eleanor, and she maintained a low profile for the rest of the crusade. Louis's subsequent assault on Damascus in 1148 with his remaining army, fortified by King Conrad and Baldwin III of Jerusalem, achieved little. Damascus was a major trading centre that abounded in wealth and was under normal circumstances a potential threat, but the rulers of Jerusalem had recently entered into a truce with the city, which they then forswore. It was a gamble that did not pay off, and whether through military error or betrayal, the Damascus campaign was a failure. The French royal family retreated to Jerusalem and then sailed to Rome and made their way back to Paris.
While in the eastern Mediterranean, Eleanor learned about maritime conventions developing there, which were the beginnings of what would become admiralty law. She introduced those conventions in her own lands on the island of Oleron in 1160 (with the "Rolls of Oléron") and later in England as well. She was also instrumental in developing trade agreements with Constantinople and ports of trade in the Holy Lands.
Home, however, was not easily reached. Louis and Eleanor, on separate ships due to their disagreements, were first attacked in May 1149 by Byzantine ships attempting to capture both on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor. Although they escaped this attempt unharmed, stormy weather drove Eleanor's ship far to the south (to the Barbary Coast) and caused her to lose track of her husband. Neither was heard of for over two months. In mid-July, Eleanor's ship finally reached Palermo in Sicily, where she discovered that she and her husband had both been given up for dead. She was given shelter and food by servants of King Roger II of Sicily, until the king eventually reached Calabria, and she set out to meet him there. Later, at King Roger's court in Potenza, she learned of the death of her uncle Raymond, who was beheaded by Muslim forces in the Holy Land. This appears to have forced a change of plans, for instead of returning to France from Marseilles, they went to see Pope Eugene III in Tusculum, where he had been driven five months before by a revolt of the Commune of Rome.
Eugene did not, as Eleanor had hoped, grant an annulment. Instead, he attempted to reconcile Eleanor and Louis, confirming the legality of their marriage. He proclaimed that no word could be spoken against it, and that it might not be dissolved under any pretext. Eventually, he arranged events so that Eleanor had no choice but to sleep with Louis in a bed specially prepared by the pope. Thus was conceived their second child – not a son, but another daughter, Alix of France.
The marriage was now doomed. Still without a son and in danger of being left with no male heir, facing substantial opposition to Eleanor from many of his barons and her own desire for divorce, Louis bowed to the inevitable. On 11 March 1152, they met at the royal castle of Beaugency to dissolve the marriage. Hugues de Toucy, Archbishop of Sens, presided, and Louis and Eleanor were both present, as were the Archbishops of Bordeaux and Rouen. Archbishop Samson of Reims acted for Eleanor.
On 21 March, the four archbishops, with the approval of Pope Eugene, granted an annulment on grounds of consanguinity within the fourth degree. (Eleanor was Louis' third cousin once removed, and shared common ancestry with Robert II of France.) Their two daughters were, however, declared legitimate. (Children born to a marriage that was later annulled were not at risk of being "bastardized," because "where parties married in good faith, without knowledge of an impediment, ... children of the marriage were legitimate." Berman ) Custody of them was awarded to King Louis. Archbishop Samson received assurances from Louis that Eleanor's lands would be restored to her.
Eleanor was related to Henry even more closely than she had been to Louis: they were cousins to the third degree through their common ancestor Ermengarde of Anjou (wife of Robert I, Duke of Burgundy and Geoffrey, Count of Gâtinais), and they were also descended from King Robert II of France. A marriage between Henry and Eleanor's daughter Marie had earlier been declared impossible due to their status as third cousins once removed. It was rumored by some that Eleanor had had an affair with Henry's own father, Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou, who had advised his son to avoid any involvement with her.
On 25 October 1154, Henry became King of England. Eleanor was crowned Queen of England by the Archbishop of Canterbury on 19 December 1154. She may not have been anointment on this occasion, however, because she had already been anointed in 1137. Over the next thirteen years, she bore Henry five sons and three daughters: William, Henry, Richard, Geoffrey, John, Matilda, Eleanor, and Joan. John Speed, in his 1611 work History of Great Britain, mentions the possibility that Eleanor had a son named Philip, who died young. His sources no longer exist, and he alone mentions this birth.
Eleanor's marriage to Henry was reputed to be tumultuous and argumentative, although sufficiently cooperative to produce at least eight pregnancies. Henry was by no means faithful to his wife and had a reputation for philandering. Henry fathered other, illegitimate children throughout the marriage. Eleanor appears to have taken an ambivalent attitude towards these affairs: for example, Geoffrey of York, an illegitimate son of Henry, was acknowledged by Henry as his child and raised at Westminster in the care of the queen.
During the period from Henry's accession to the birth of Eleanor's youngest son John, affairs in the kingdom were turbulent: Aquitaine, as was the norm, defied the authority of Henry as Eleanor's husband and answered only to their Duchess. Attempts were made to claim Toulouse, the rightful inheritance of Eleanor's grandmother Philippa of Toulouse, but they ended in failure. A bitter feud arose between the king and Thomas Becket, initially his Chancellor and closest adviser and later the Archbishop of Canterbury. Louis of France had remarried and been widowed; he married for the third time and finally fathered a long hoped-for son, Philip Augustus (also known as Dieudonne - God-given). "Young Henry," son of Henry and Eleanor, wed Marguerite of France, daughter of Louis from his second marriage. Little is known of Eleanor's involvement in these events. It is certain that by late 1166, Henry's notorious affair with Rosamund Clifford had become known, and Eleanor's marriage to Henry appears to have become terminally strained.
In 1167, Eleanor's third daughter, Matilda, married Henry the Lion of Saxony. Eleanor remained in England with her daughter for the year prior to Matilda's departure for Normandy in September. In December, Eleanor gathered her movable possessions in England and transported them on several ships to Argentan. Christmas was celebrated at the royal court there, and she appears to have agreed to a separation from Henry. She certainly left for her own city of Poitiers immediately after Christmas. Henry did not stop her; on the contrary, he and his army personally escorted her there before attacking a castle belonging to the rebellious Lusignan family. Henry then went about his own business outside Aquitaine, leaving Earl Patrick (his regional military commander) as her protective custodian. When Patrick was killed in a skirmish, Eleanor (who proceeded to ransom his captured nephew, the young William Marshal), was left in control of her lands.
In The Art of Courtly Love, Andreas Capellanus (Andrew the chaplain) refers to the court of Poitiers. He claims that Eleanor, her daughter Marie, Ermengarde, Viscountess of Narbonne, and Isabelle of Flanders would sit and listen to the quarrels of lovers and act as a jury to the questions of the court that revolved around acts of romantic love. He records some twenty-one cases, the most famous of them being a problem posed to the women about whether true love can exist in marriage. According to Capellanus, the women decided that it was not at all likely.
Some scholars believe that the "court of love" probably never existed, since the only evidence for it is Andreas Capellanus’ book. To strengthen their argument, they state that there is no other evidence that Marie ever stayed with her mother in Poitiers. Andreas wrote for the court of the king of France, where Eleanor was not held in esteem. Polly Schoyer Brooks (the author of a non-academic biography of Eleanor) suggests that the court did exist, but that it was not taken very seriously, and that acts of courtly love were just a "parlor game" made up by Eleanor and Marie in order to place some order over the young courtiers living there.
There is no claim that Eleanor invented courtly love, since it was a concept that had begun to grow before Eleanor’s court arose. All that can be said is that her court at Poitiers was most likely a catalyst for the increased popularity of courtly love literature in the Western European regions. Amy Kelly, in her article, "Eleanor of Aquitaine and her Courts of Love", gives a very plausible description of the origins of the rules of Eleanor's court: "in the Poitevin code, man is the property, the very thing of woman; whereas a precisely contrary state of things existed in the adjacent realms of the two kings from whom the reigning duchess of Aquitaine was estranged."
Sometime between the end of March and the beginning of May, Eleanor left Poitiers, but was arrested and sent to the king at Rouen. The king did not announce the arrest publicly; for the next year, the Queen's whereabouts were unknown. On 8 July 1174, Henry and Eleanor took ship for England from Barfleur. As soon as they disembarked at Southampton, Eleanor was taken either to Winchester Castle or Old Sarum and held there.
Henry lost the woman reputed to be his great love, Rosamund Clifford, in 1176. He had met her in 1166 and began his liaison in 1173, supposedly contemplating divorce from Eleanor. This notorious affair caused a monkish scribe to transcribe Rosamund's name in Latin to "Rosa Immundi", or "Rose of Unchastity". The king had many mistresses, but although he treated earlier liaisons discreetly, he flaunted Rosamund. He may have done so to provoke Eleanor into seeking an annulment but, if so, the queen disappointed him. Nevertheless, rumours persisted, perhaps assisted by Henry's camp, that Eleanor had poisoned Rosamund. It is also speculated that Eleanor placed Rosamund in a bathtub and had an old woman cut Rosamund's arms. Henry donated much money to Godstow Nunnery, where Rosamund was buried.
In 1183, the Young King Henry tried again to force his father to hand over some of his patrimony. In debt and refused control of Normandy, he tried to ambush his father at Limoges. He was joined by troops sent by his brother Geoffrey and Philip II of France. Henry II's troops besieged the town, forcing his son to flee. After wandering aimlessly through Aquitaine, Henry the Younger caught dysentery. On Saturday, 11 June 1183, the Young King realized he was dying and was overcome with remorse for his sins. When his father's ring was sent to him, he begged that his father would show mercy to his mother, and that all his companions would plead with Henry to set her free. Henry II sent Thomas of Earley, Archdeacon of Wells, to break the news to Eleanor at Sarum. Eleanor reputedly had had a dream in which she foresaw her son Henry's death. In 1193 she would tell Pope Celestine III that she was tortured by his memory.
King Philip II of France claimed that certain properties in Normandy belonged to his half-sister Marguerite, widow of the young Henry, but Henry insisted that they had once belonged to Eleanor and would revert to her upon her son's death. For this reason Henry summoned Eleanor to Normandy in the late summer of 1183. She stayed in Normandy for six months. This was the beginning of a period of greater freedom for the still-supervised Eleanor. Eleanor went back to England probably early in 1184. Over the next few years Eleanor often travelled with her husband and was sometimes associated with him in the government of the realm, but still had a custodian so that she was not free.
Eleanor survived Richard and lived well into the reign of her youngest son, King John. In 1199, under the terms of a truce between King Philip II and King John, it was agreed that Philip's twelve-year-old heir-apparent Louis would be married to one of John's nieces, daughters of his sister Eleanor of Castile. John instructed his mother to travel to Castile to select one of the princesses. Now 77, Eleanor set out from Poitiers. Just outside Poitiers she was ambushed and held captive by Hugh IX of Lusignan, whose lands had been sold to Henry II by his forebears. Eleanor secured her freedom by agreeing to his demands. She continued south, crossed the Pyrenees, and travelled through the Kingdoms of Navarre and Castile, arriving in Castile before the end of January 1200.
King Alfonso VIII and Eleanor's daughter, Queen Eleanor of Castile, had two remaining unmarried daughters, Urraca and Blanche. Eleanor selected the younger daughter, Blanche. She stayed for two months at the Castilian court, then late in March journeyed with granddaughter Blanche back across the Pyrenees. She celebrated Easter in Bordeaux, where the famous warrior Mercadier came to her court. It was decided that he would escort the Queen and Princess north. "On the second day in Easter week, he was slain in the city by a man-at-arms in the service of Brandin", a rival mercenary captain. This tragedy was too much for the elderly queen, who was fatigued and unable to continue to Normandy. She and Blanche rode in easy stages to the valley of the Loire, and she entrusted Blanche to the Archbishop of Bordeaux, who took over as her escort. The exhausted Eleanor went to Fontevraud, where she remained. In early summer, Eleanor was ill and John visited her at Fontevraud.
Eleanor was again unwell in early 1201. When war broke out between John and Philip, Eleanor declared her support for John and set out from Fontevraud to her capital Poitiers to prevent her grandson Arthur I, Duke of Brittany, posthumous son of Eleanor's son Geoffrey and John's rival for the English throne, from taking control. Arthur learned of her whereabouts and besieged her in the castle of Mirebeau. As soon as John heard of this, he marched south, overcame the besiegers, and captured the 15-year-old Arthur. Eleanor then returned to Fontevraud where she took the veil as a nun.
Eleanor died in 1204 and was entombed in Fontevraud Abbey next to her husband Henry and her son Richard. Her tomb effigy shows her reading a bible and is decorated with magnificent jewelry. By the time of her death she had outlived all of her children except for King John of England and Queen Eleanor of Castile.
However, no one left a more detailed description of Eleanor; the colour of her hair and eyes, for example, are unknown. The effigy on her tomb shows a tall and large-boned woman with brown skin, though this may not be an accurate representation. Her seal of c. 1152 shows a woman with a slender figure, but this is likely an impersonal image.
In 2004, Catherine Muschamp's one-woman play, Mother of the Pride, toured the UK with Eileen Page in the title role. In 2005, Chapelle Jaffe played the same part in Toronto.
The character "Queen Elinor" appears in William Shakespeare's King John, along with other members of the family. On television, she has been portrayed in this play by Una Venning in the BBC Sunday Night Theatre version (1952) and by Mary Morris in the BBC Shakespeare version (1984).
She figures prominently in Sharon Kay Penman's novels, When Christ And His Saints Slept, Time and Chance, and Devil's Brood, and also appears briefly in Here Be Dragons.
Penman has written a series of historical mysteries in which Eleanor, in old age, sends a trusted servant to unravel various puzzles. The titles are The Queen's Man, Cruel as the Grave, Dragon's Lair, and Prince of Darkness.
Eleanor features as a more minor character in Lionheart and A King's Ransom, both of which focus on the reign of her son, Richard, as king of England.
Eleanor is the principal character of Beloved Enemy and Gilded Cages, the last two volumes of a trilogy of romance novels by Ellen Jones.
E.L. Konigsburg's young adult novel A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver takes place in Heaven of the late 20th century, where Eleanor of Aquitaine, Empress Matilda, and William the Marshall are waiting for King Henry II to be admitted to eternity at last. The Abbot Suger stops to chat with Eleanor and stays to wait, too. To pass the time, the four recall Eleanor's time on Earth. The flashbacks on earth are set during the Middle Ages in France and England, with a brief trip to the Holy Land. The flashbacks trace the highlights of Eleanor's life from 1137 (when she is 15 years old and about to wed Louis Capet, soon to be King Louis VII of France) to her death in 1204. Her life encompasses the rule of England by her husband Henry II and by her sons Richard and John. Originally published in 1973, the novel was put back in print by Atheneum in 2001.
Eleanor is associated with Nicole des Jardins in Arthur C. Clarke and Gentry Lee's follow-up series to Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama.
Jean Plaidy has written about her in several novels. Courts of Love is written from a first person perspective in Plaidy's Queens of England series, and in The Plantagenet Saga, Eleanor of Aquitaine is featured in The Plantagenet Prelude, Revolt of the Eaglets, The Heart of the Lion, and Prince of Darkness.
Eleanor is featured in a book in The Royal Diaries series, Eleanor: Crown Jewel of Aquitaine (2002) by Kristiana Gregory. The books in the series are written as fictional diaries of royal women in their earlier years; Eleanor's is set in the year 1136.
Christy English's historical novel, The Queen's Pawn, published in April 2010, depicts Eleanor of Aquitaine from 1169–1173, during her marriage to King Henry II of England and her relationship with Princess Alais of France. In April 2011, English published a second novel, To Be Queen, which is another historical novel centered on Eleanor of Aquitaine's life. This novel covers the years 1132–1152, from before she became Duchess of Aquitaine until the end of her first marriage to Louis VII of France. Also published in April 2010 was Alison Weir's novel, The Captive Queen, which details Eleanor's life from when she first met Henry II of England to her death in 1204.
Cecelia Holland's 2010 novel, The Secret Eleanor: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine, set in the years 1151–1152, is centered on Eleanor's relationship with her sister Petronilla; it narrates the meeting of Eleanor and Henry Plantagenet, the beginning of their love affair, Eleanor's annulment of her marriage to Louis VII, and Petronilla's role helping her sister in these events, in a fictional secret history concordant with the known facts of their lives.
In 2013, Elizabeth Chadwick published the first of three announced books about Eleanor's life, titled The Summer Queen. The second, titled The Winter Crown was published in 2014. Eleanor was a major character in Chadwick's historical novels about William Marshal especially The Greatest Knight.
Eleanor is one of four women profiled in Helen Castor's 2011 book She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth (Faber & Faber), and of the BBC documentary She-Wolves: England's Early Queens, presented by Castor.
Eleanor features in Susan Appleyard's novel of Henry II 'The First Plantagenet'.
In 2012, Mark Richard Beaulieu published the first of six books in the Eleanor Code series, titled "Eleanor of Aquitaine: The Young Life."
In the 1964 film, "Becket" (1964), Eleanor is briefly played by Pamela Brown to Peter O'Toole's first performance as a young Henry II.
In the 1968 film, The Lion in Winter, Eleanor is played by Katharine Hepburn, while Henry is again portrayed by O'Toole. The film is about the difficult relationship between them and the struggle of their three sons Richard, Geoffrey, and John for their father's favour and the succession. A 2003 TV film, The Lion in Winter (2003 film), starred Glenn Close as Eleanor and Patrick Stewart as Henry.
She was portrayed by Mary Clare in the silent film, Becket (1923), by Prudence Hyman in Richard the Lionheart (1962), and twice by Jane Lapotaire; in the BBC TV drama series, The Devil's Crown (1978), and again in Mike Walker's BBC Radio 4 series, Plantagenet (2010). In the 2010 film, Robin Hood, starring Russell Crowe, Eleanor is played by Eileen Atkins. In the 2014 film, , Eleanor is played by Debbie Rochon.
|married Henry I, Count of Champagne; had issue, including Marie, Latin Empress|
|married Theobald V, Count of Blois; had issue|
|died in infancy|
|married Margaret of France; no surviving issue.|
|married Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony and Bavaria; had issue, including Otto IV, Holy Roman Emperor|
|married Berengaria of Navarre; no issue|
|married Constance, Duchess of Brittany; had issue|
|married Alfonso VIII of Castile; had issue, including Henry I, King of Castile, Berengaria, Queen regnant of Castile and Queen of León, Urraca, Queen of Portugal, Blanche, Queen of France, Eleanor, Queen of Aragon|
|married 1) William II of Sicily 2) Raymond VI of Toulouse; had issue|
|married 1) Isabella, Countess of Gloucester 2) Isabella, Countess of Angoulême; had issue, including Henry III, King of England, Richard, King of the Romans, Joan, Queen of Scotland, Isabella, Holy Roman Empress|