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â Read ↠´ Eleanor of Aquitaine by Alison Weir í I ve been curious about the historical figure of Eleanor of Aquitaine for a long time Finally, through Eleanor of Aquitaine A Life I was able to sate my eagerness to know what kind of life this woman, that was the Duchess of Aquitaine in her own right and Queen of both France and England, lived One thing for sure, it wasn t an easy life She had difficult husbands, but compensated somewhat through a constant struggle for power We could say that she was fairly successful, since she lived in an era were women had no power at all Despite her struggles she was imprisoned by her second husband for many years But in the end she won this battle, since she outlived him.
Just a taste of Weir s great novel, where the author discusses how restrictive and how excrutianting for women Eleanor s time wasIn this martial world dominated by men, women had little place The Church s teachings might underpin feudal morality, yet when it came to the practicalities of life, a ruthless pragmatism often came into play Kings and noblemen married for political advantage, and women rarely had any say in how they or their wealth were to be disposed in marriage Kings would sell off heiresses and rich widows to the highest bidder, for political or territorial advantage, and those who resisted were heavily fined.
Young girls of good birth were strictly reared, often in convents, and married off at fourteen or even earlier to suit their parents or overlord s purposes The betrothal of infants was not uncommon, despite the church s disapproval It was a father s duty to bestow his daughters in marriage if he was dead, his overlord or the King himself would act for him Personal choice was rarely and issue.
Upon marriage, a girl s property and rights became invested in her husband, to whom she owed absolute obedience Every husband had the right to enforce this duty in whichever way he thought fit as Eleanor was to find out to her cost Wife beating was common, although the Church did at this time attempt to restrict the length of the rod that a husband might useI really enjoyed Alison Weir s book Recommended.
A scholarly but lightly written book on late 12th Century European politics, as told through the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine Eleanor comes across as a remarkable woman, extremely strong willed and independent She originally married the King of France, and even joined him on a Crusade, then abandoned him for the King of England Later, through her sons Richard the Lionheart was her favorite she fostered rebellions against the English King in his French territories When the rebellions ended in failure, she spent several years imprisoned by her husband, until he died and Richard restored her as an honored and trusted elder stateswoman She died quietly in France at a ripe old age after leading a life of extraordinary power and influence.
The book does an excellent job of investigating contemporary sources to parse out the truth from the romantic legend and the anti Eleanor propaganda Many conventional stories are debunked Eleanor poisoned her husband s mistresses and others are endorsed Eleanor had an affair with the King of England s father based on the available records The one knock against the book, and this is hardly the author s fault, is that there are long periods of Eleanor s life when the contemporary sources felt no need to record her activities This was, after all, an era in which the value of a woman was calculated by how many sons she produced As a result, the book frequently reads like a biography of Eleanor s husbands and sons than a biography of Eleanor herself Nevertheless, a great read.
Alison Weir spends a lot of time in this book discusses common legends and misconceptions surrounding Eleanor, which was interesting for me because I hadn t heard any of them before I really wasn t that familiar with Eleanor of Aquitaine before reading this mostly I just knew that she went on crusade once, was Richard the Lionheart s mother, and was played by Katherine Hepburn in The Lion in Winter From these three bits of information, we can at least deduce that she was kind of a badass.
Having finished this account of her life, I have to admit that I now know a lot about everyone else in Eleanor s life than I do about Eleanor herself Weir does her best, but the fact is there just isn t that much concrete information about Eleanor, aside from a few letters which were recorded by her clerk, who may have actually composed the letters himself and some documents stating how much money she spent at a certain time or when she traveled to England For the majority of the book, Eleanor is sort of kept to the sidelines, occasionally coming into the picture when she gets involved with her husband s sons relatives politics Alison Weir is very careful not to take anything for granted and examines all the evidence before making a claim about what Eleanor did at any given time, which is a good thing for a historian to do, but it also means Eleanor is not actually very present in this biography Which is not to say that it isn t a good biography The Plantagenets were one batshit crazy family, and reading about their violent shenanigens is always a good time Just don t go into this book expecting Eleanor to be present on every page entire chapters can go by without mentioning her However, when she does make an appearance she is always being awesome, because she is Eleanor of Motherfucking Aquitaine Take this letter she wrote to the Pope, basically tearing him a new one for not helping to free her son Richard after he was captured while on crusade Is your power derived from God or from men Did not the God of Gods speak to you through His apostle Peter, that whatsoever you bind on Earth shall be bound also in Heaven, and whatsoever you loose on Earth shall be loosed also in Heaven Why then do you so long negligently, nay cruelly, delay to free my son, or is it rather that you do not dare Perhaps you will say that this power is given to you over souls, not bodies so be it, I will certainly be satisfied if you bind the souls of those who keep my son bound in prison.
It is your province to release my son, unless the fear of God has yielded to a human fear Restore my son to me, then, O man of God, if indeed you are a man of God and not a man of mere blood For know that if you are slow in releasing my son, from your hand will the Most High require his blood She wrote that to the Pope The Pope All I can say to that is, damn, lady I ve had a life long and abiding interest in Eleanor of Aquitaine ever since I read a biography of her when I was 10 years old I never realized, though, how little I actually knew about the Plantagenetsor how wrong what little I knew wasuntil I read Weir s book.
My only complaint about this book has less to do with Weir s impeccable scholarship and gift for narrative than it does with the scant record left behind by women, even notable women like Eleanor As an aside, it seems like a vast understatement to call her notable I feel I need a much stronger word, but it is late and I can t think of a good word now There are times in the book when I grew impatient reading about the antics of John and Richard and wanted to know WHERE S ELEANOR But as I said, that is a result of the scant evidence left behind in the historical record when it comes to the lives of women It is the cross for all women s historians to bear But Weir does a good job of touching base with the reader and saying basically the historical record does not show where Eleanor was at this time or what she was doing, but we can surmiseetc.
, etc.
In summary, this is a wonderful book to grab a cup of hot tea and curl up with during long winter nights.
I ve been curious about the historical figure of Eleanor of Aquitaine for a long time Finally, through Eleanor of Aquitaine A Life I was able to sate my eagerness to know what kind of life this woman, that was the Duchess of Aquitaine in her own right and Queen of both France and England, lived One thing for sure, it wasn t an easy life She had difficult husbands, but compensated somewhat through a constant struggle for power We could say that she was fairly successful, since she lived in an era were women had no power at all Despite her struggles she was imprisoned by her second husband for many years But in the end she won this battle, since she outlived him.
Just a taste of Weir s great novel, where the author discusses how restrictive and how excrutianting for women Eleanor s time wasIn this martial world dominated by men, women had little place The Church s teachings might underpin feudal morality, yet when it came to the practicalities of life, a ruthless pragmatism often came into play Kings and noblemen married for political advantage, and women rarely had any say in how they or their wealth were to be disposed in marriage Kings would sell off heiresses and rich widows to the highest bidder, for political or territorial advantage, and those who resisted were heavily fined.
Young girls of good birth were strictly reared, often in convents, and married off at fourteen or even earlier to suit their parents or overlord s purposes The betrothal of infants was not uncommon, despite the church s disapproval It was a father s duty to bestow his daughters in marriage if he was dead, his overlord or the King himself would act for him Personal choice was rarely and issue.
Upon marriage, a girl s property and rights became invested in her husband, to whom she owed absolute obedience Every husband had the right to enforce this duty in whichever way he thought fit as Eleanor was to find out to her cost Wife beating was common, although the Church did at this time attempt to restrict the length of the rod that a husband might useI really enjoyed Alison Weir s book Recommended.
A scholarly but lightly written book on late 12th Century European politics, as told through the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine Eleanor comes across as a remarkable woman, extremely strong willed and independent She originally married the King of France, and even joined him on a Crusade, then abandoned him for the King of England Later, through her sons Richard the Lionheart was her favorite she fostered rebellions against the English King in his French territories When the rebellions ended in failure, she spent several years imprisoned by her husband, until he died and Richard restored her as an honored and trusted elder stateswoman She died quietly in France at a ripe old age after leading a life of extraordinary power and influence.
The book does an excellent job of investigating contemporary sources to parse out the truth from the romantic legend and the anti Eleanor propaganda Many conventional stories are debunked Eleanor poisoned her husband s mistresses and others are endorsed Eleanor had an affair with the King of England s father based on the available records The one knock against the book, and this is hardly the author s fault, is that there are long periods of Eleanor s life when the contemporary sources felt no need to record her activities This was, after all, an era in which the value of a woman was calculated by how many sons she produced As a result, the book frequently reads like a biography of Eleanor s husbands and sons than a biography of Eleanor herself Nevertheless, a great read.
Alison Weir spends a lot of time in this book discusses common legends and misconceptions surrounding Eleanor, which was interesting for me because I hadn t heard any of them before I really wasn t that familiar with Eleanor of Aquitaine before reading this mostly I just knew that she went on crusade once, was Richard the Lionheart s mother, and was played by Katherine Hepburn in The Lion in Winter From these three bits of information, we can at least deduce that she was kind of a badass.
Having finished this account of her life, I have to admit that I now know a lot about everyone else in Eleanor s life than I do about Eleanor herself Weir does her best, but the fact is there just isn t that much concrete information about Eleanor, aside from a few letters which were recorded by her clerk, who may have actually composed the letters himself and some documents stating how much money she spent at a certain time or when she traveled to England For the majority of the book, Eleanor is sort of kept to the sidelines, occasionally coming into the picture when she gets involved with her husband s sons relatives politics Alison Weir is very careful not to take anything for granted and examines all the evidence before making a claim about what Eleanor did at any given time, which is a good thing for a historian to do, but it also means Eleanor is not actually very present in this biography Which is not to say that it isn t a good biography The Plantagenets were one batshit crazy family, and reading about their violent shenanigens is always a good time Just don t go into this book expecting Eleanor to be present on every page entire chapters can go by without mentioning her However, when she does make an appearance she is always being awesome, because she is Eleanor of Motherfucking Aquitaine Take this letter she wrote to the Pope, basically tearing him a new one for not helping to free her son Richard after he was captured while on crusade Is your power derived from God or from men Did not the God of Gods speak to you through His apostle Peter, that whatsoever you bind on Earth shall be bound also in Heaven, and whatsoever you loose on Earth shall be loosed also in Heaven Why then do you so long negligently, nay cruelly, delay to free my son, or is it rather that you do not dare Perhaps you will say that this power is given to you over souls, not bodies so be it, I will certainly be satisfied if you bind the souls of those who keep my son bound in prison.
It is your province to release my son, unless the fear of God has yielded to a human fear Restore my son to me, then, O man of God, if indeed you are a man of God and not a man of mere blood For know that if you are slow in releasing my son, from your hand will the Most High require his blood She wrote that to the Pope The Pope All I can say to that is, damn, lady I ve had a life long and abiding interest in Eleanor of Aquitaine ever since I read a biography of her when I was 10 years old I never realized, though, how little I actually knew about the Plantagenetsor how wrong what little I knew wasuntil I read Weir s book.
My only complaint about this book has less to do with Weir s impeccable scholarship and gift for narrative than it does with the scant record left behind by women, even notable women like Eleanor As an aside, it seems like a vast understatement to call her notable I feel I need a much stronger word, but it is late and I can t think of a good word now There are times in the book when I grew impatient reading about the antics of John and Richard and wanted to know WHERE S ELEANOR But as I said, that is a result of the scant evidence left behind in the historical record when it comes to the lives of women It is the cross for all women s historians to bear But Weir does a good job of touching base with the reader and saying basically the historical record does not show where Eleanor was at this time or what she was doing, but we can surmiseetc.
, etc.
In summary, this is a wonderful book to grab a cup of hot tea and curl up with during long winter nights.
Alison Weir s biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine is thorough and well researched, from birth to death There s a lot of dates and names, and Weir s style doesn t really make that kind of detail absorbing, but there s plenty to interest a patient reader My chief criticism is that Weir presents this as a complete portrait of Eleanor, commenting that previous accounts of her life rely too heavily on the actions of her husbands and sons, but Weir herself falls into that same pitfall Whole chapters go by in which Henry or Richard or John are the focus.
Still, worth the time I invested, I think Eleanor was a fascinating woman and a great queen, amd Weir definitely shows the reader that.
I read this book in hardcover when it first came out before giving it to a friend sorry Amy At the time I seem to remember Weir saying in the introduction that it was of a struggle to write this book than her Tudor histories due to the comparative lack and nature of sources she relied chiefly on contemporary chroniclers, the richer biographical data of letters, diaries, etc no longer existing Consequently I felt it was of a struggle to read.
Not this time I re read the introduction and perhaps my mind had been playing tricks on me, as there was no mention of the above difficulties She does fill in a lot of background about medieval daily life, both for peasants and royalty, in addition to providing a balanced portrait of her subject, one of the most famous women in medieval Europe She s not squeamish or judgmental about incestuous affairs, Eleanor s son Richard s possible homosexuality she doesn t think he was, as that is something chroniclers would have picked up on at the merest hint , or Henry II s involvement in Thomas Becket s murder.
Definitely enjoyed it and would recommend to anyone interested in medieval European history without needing a strong background in the subject already.
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 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 Once again Alison Weir has produced another wonderful and exciting biography In this book on Eleanor of Aquitaine she has told the story of this most interesting person in a manner that had me glued to the pages I must state that I have not previously read any books on this subject, quite a few on Richard I but nothing on his mother I usually enjoy military history but this was an excellent story, well researched and well presented with heaps of plots, fighting and treachery The story may well be known to quite a few people out there but to me this book offered the first timer a grand and interesting panorama of this most interesting person during a most interesting period The narrative was quick and exciting, moving along covering a vast period of time and people however I never got lost in the story On a number of occasions points in dispute were threshed out and a common sense approach was adopted in trying to find the truth of the matter Eleanor of Aquitaine had a number of detractors throughout history but I think the author tried to present her story in a non biased manner This is a good book and I think that most people will enjoy the story and even those who know the whole story should gain something from this account.
This is another in Alison Weir s series of historical biographical works As always, the book is well written with much historical detail coming from each page As with some of her other works such as Katherine Swynford , she takes a less than complete record of the person about whom she is writing and creates a plausible rendering of that person s life She notes where evidence is slim and makes cautious suggestions as to what might have happened during periods of time with little record of Eleanor.
Here, the target is Eleanor of Aquitaine, notorious after her death, with a greater appreciation of her accomplishments in recent times The fact that such a nuanced biography can be written is remarkable, when one accounts for the fact that she lived before records were as easy to come by as later on Born in 1122, she died in 1204, over 80 years old There are a number of story lines here One is simply the trajectory of her rich life Second is the story of her two marriages to King Louis VII of France and to King Henry II of England In addition, she was the ruler of Aquitaine, a large area in France Her falling out with her husbands is riveting including her having been under, essentially, house arrest by Henry II for over a decade The genealogical tables on pages 408 to 421 are absolutely necessary to keep the players straight, to understand their relationships with one another.
She was a strong woman in a time when that was scarcely the norm She was effectively ruler of Aquitaine for a time just so, when her husband was gone, she had a role in the governance of England A third story is the chaotic relations of her sons Two became king of England Richard I and John Both had some serious flaws one, Henry, the Young King was heir to the throne before an untimely death Making this all the sensational was the warfare literally between sons and father Henry II and between the sons themselves Being a mom to these unruly children must have been a challenge The book also provides insight into the politics, economics, and culture of the time, giving us a broader context in which to consider Eleanor s life and that of her husbands and children For her time, she was something else again She traveled widely, played a role in politics, roiled the interfamily tensions In her 80s, she retired from public life to a convent, where she lived the rest of her days The book concludes by noting Page 346 Remarkable in a period when females were relegated to a servile role, she was, as Richard of Devizes so astutely claimed, an incomparable woman.
I do think it is a good book, and good history But it is not a biography of Eleanor There have been numerous comments that the problems with the book revolve around there just not being enough direct material available to do a biography, and they re entirely justified Large sections of the book go by with notes of Eleanor does not appear in any of the chronicles of this period.
Worse, from a biography point of view, there are few real conclusions or statements of what Eleanor was like I think the book would have benefited from being a bit opinionated, and the book stays too distant from the subject.
All that said, even when Eleanor is not present, she haunts the pages of the book, even when she is not mentioned, she is still one of the foci of events The book should not be considered so much as a biography as a life and times It is a very well researched look at the events in England and France over an 80 year period, and I can see it being very useful to use to answer questions about who was where when The writing is good throughout, and I do recommend it, as long as you understand that it isn t quite the biography that it purports to be.



I read this book in hardcover when it first came out before giving it to a friend sorry Amy At the time I seem to remember Weir saying in the introduction that it was of a struggle to write this book than her Tudor histories due to the comparative lack and nature of sources she relied chiefly on contemporary chroniclers, the richer biographical data of letters, diaries, etc no longer existing Consequently I felt it was of a struggle to read.
Not this time I re read the introduction and perhaps my mind had been playing tricks on me, as there was no mention of the above difficulties She does fill in a lot of background about medieval daily life, both for peasants and royalty, in addition to providing a balanced portrait of her subject, one of the most famous women in medieval Europe She s not squeamish or judgmental about incestuous affairs, Eleanor s son Richard s possible homosexuality she doesn t think he was, as that is something chroniclers would have picked up on at the merest hint , or Henry II s involvement in Thomas Becket s murder.
Definitely enjoyed it and would recommend to anyone interested in medieval European history without needing a strong background in the subject already.
Alison Weir s biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine is thorough and well researched, from birth to death There s a lot of dates and names, and Weir s style doesn t really make that kind of detail absorbing, but there s plenty to interest a patient reader My chief criticism is that Weir presents this as a complete portrait of Eleanor, commenting that previous accounts of her life rely too heavily on the actions of her husbands and sons, but Weir herself falls into that same pitfall Whole chapters go by in which Henry or Richard or John are the focus.
Still, worth the time I invested, I think Eleanor was a fascinating woman and a great queen, amd Weir definitely shows the reader that.
Once again Alison Weir has produced another wonderful and exciting biography In this book on Eleanor of Aquitaine she has told the story of this most interesting person in a manner that had me glued to the pages I must state that I have not previously read any books on this subject, quite a few on Richard I but nothing on his mother I usually enjoy military history but this was an excellent story, well researched and well presented with heaps of plots, fighting and treachery The story may well be known to quite a few people out there but to me this book offered the first timer a grand and interesting panorama of this most interesting person during a most interesting period The narrative was quick and exciting, moving along covering a vast period of time and people however I never got lost in the story On a number of occasions points in dispute were threshed out and a common sense approach was adopted in trying to find the truth of the matter Eleanor of Aquitaine had a number of detractors throughout history but I think the author tried to present her story in a non biased manner This is a good book and I think that most people will enjoy the story and even those who know the whole story should gain something from this account.
This is another in Alison Weir s series of historical biographical works As always, the book is well written with much historical detail coming from each page As with some of her other works such as Katherine Swynford , she takes a less than complete record of the person about whom she is writing and creates a plausible rendering of that person s life She notes where evidence is slim and makes cautious suggestions as to what might have happened during periods of time with little record of Eleanor.
Here, the target is Eleanor of Aquitaine, notorious after her death, with a greater appreciation of her accomplishments in recent times The fact that such a nuanced biography can be written is remarkable, when one accounts for the fact that she lived before records were as easy to come by as later on Born in 1122, she died in 1204, over 80 years old There are a number of story lines here One is simply the trajectory of her rich life Second is the story of her two marriages to King Louis VII of France and to King Henry II of England In addition, she was the ruler of Aquitaine, a large area in France Her falling out with her husbands is riveting including her having been under, essentially, house arrest by Henry II for over a decade The genealogical tables on pages 408 to 421 are absolutely necessary to keep the players straight, to understand their relationships with one another.
She was a strong woman in a time when that was scarcely the norm She was effectively ruler of Aquitaine for a time just so, when her husband was gone, she had a role in the governance of England A third story is the chaotic relations of her sons Two became king of England Richard I and John Both had some serious flaws one, Henry, the Young King was heir to the throne before an untimely death Making this all the sensational was the warfare literally between sons and father Henry II and between the sons themselves Being a mom to these unruly children must have been a challenge The book also provides insight into the politics, economics, and culture of the time, giving us a broader context in which to consider Eleanor s life and that of her husbands and children For her time, she was something else again She traveled widely, played a role in politics, roiled the interfamily tensions In her 80s, she retired from public life to a convent, where she lived the rest of her days The book concludes by noting Page 346 Remarkable in a period when females were relegated to a servile role, she was, as Richard of Devizes so astutely claimed, an incomparable woman.
I do think it is a good book, and good history But it is not a biography of Eleanor There have been numerous comments that the problems with the book revolve around there just not being enough direct material available to do a biography, and they re entirely justified Large sections of the book go by with notes of Eleanor does not appear in any of the chronicles of this period.
Worse, from a biography point of view, there are few real conclusions or statements of what Eleanor was like I think the book would have benefited from being a bit opinionated, and the book stays too distant from the subject.
All that said, even when Eleanor is not present, she haunts the pages of the book, even when she is not mentioned, she is still one of the foci of events The book should not be considered so much as a biography as a life and times It is a very well researched look at the events in England and France over an 80 year period, and I can see it being very useful to use to answer questions about who was where when The writing is good throughout, and I do recommend it, as long as you understand that it isn t quite the biography that it purports to be.

Librarian Note There is than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.Alison Weir is a British writer of history books for the general public, mostly in the form of biographies about British kings and queens, and of historical fiction Before becoming an author, Weir worked as a teacher of children with special needs She received her formal training in history at teacher training