Каталог :: История

Доклад: History of english Royal Family (Eleanor of Aquitaine)

Eleanor of Aquitaine
The Troubadour's Daughter
Eleanor of Aquitaine was born around 1122. Her grandfather, William IX, was
the wealthy and powerful duke of Aquitaine. He was also a musician and poet,
acknowledged as history's first troubadour.
William IX didn't just sing about love. By the time he was twenty he had
married and divorced his first wife, Ermengarde. His second wife was Philippa
(or Maud) of Toulouse, the widowed queen of Aragon. They had two sons,
William and Raymond, and five daughters. When the Troubadour tired of
Philippa, she moved to the same nunnery where Ermengard lived. After
Philippa's death, Ermengarde tried to force William to take her back, but the
duke had other ideas. He had abducted a married woman called Dangereuse
("dangerous" in French), and she was now his mistress.
In time the Troubadour decided that his elder son, William, should marry
Dangereuse's daughter Aenor. (Dangereuse's husband was Aenor's father.) The
younger William didn't want to marry Aenor, but he had no choice. The
marriage took place in 1121, and a year or so later Eleanor of Aquitaine was
born. She was followed by a daughter, Aelith (or Petronella) and a son,
William Aigret.
When Eleanor was about five years old, William the Troubadour died and her
father became Duke William X. A few years later, Eleanor's mother and brother
died. Now Eleanor was heir to the vast realm of Aquitaine.
Like his father, William X was a patron of the troubadours and storytellers,
and growing up in his court Eleanor developed a lifelong love of music and
literature. Proud of his lively, intelligent daughter, William gave her an
excellent education. She travelled through Aquitaine with him, preparing for
her future role of duchess. Father and daughter were close, and it must have
been a harsh blow for Eleanor when William, while making a religious
pilgrimage, died suddenly of food poisoning.
Eleanor was just fifteen, and her life was about to change forever. On his
deathbed William had asked his men to commend Eleanor to the care of Louis
the Fat, king of France. Louis was no fool. He knew just what to do with his
young, very beautiful, extremely wealthy ward - marry her off to his own son
and heir. And so on August 1, 1137, Eleanor of Aquitaine married the future
King Louis VII.
Queen of France
Both Eleanor and her husband were in their teens, but they had little else in
common. Eleanor was high-spirited and strong-willed; Louis was a quiet,
religious young man, regarded by some as a saint. No one ever mistook Eleanor
of Aquitaine for a saint.
A few days after the wedding, Eleanor's father-in-law died and her husband
became King Louis VII. Eleanor, who was not one to stay at home making
tapestries, threw herself enthusiastically into the role of queen. To the
dismay of many observers, the new king respected his wife's intelligence and
consulted her frequently on matters of state. Queen Eleanor frequently
visited Aquitaine, where she was well-regarded by her father's former
Eleanor's sister, Petronella, was also keeping busy. With Eleanor's
encouragement, a nobleman divorced his wife to marry Petronella, which didn't
make the family of Wife Number One very happy. War broke out, and Louis led
his troops against a town called Vitry, setting it on fire. The townspeople
sought refuge in a church, which burned down. More than one thousand people
perished. Louis was wracked by guilt.
During the first years of her marriage Eleanor had just one child, who was
stillborn. An influential miracle-working abbot, Bernard of Clairvaux, told
her that she was childless because God disapproved of her wicked ways. Either
Eleanor temporarily mended her ways or God relented, because in 1145 she gave
birth to her first child, a daughter named Marie. But Eleanor wasn't ready to
settle down and be a typical medieval mommy.
The Second Crusade
In 1144 the city of Edessa (located in modern-day Turkey), which had been in
Christian hands for almost fifty years, was captured by Muslims. Most of its
citizens were massacred or sold into slavery. Inspired by this event and the
preaching of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Louis VII and German emperor Conrad
III organized their own separate military expeditions to the Middle East. The
French and Germans had little interest in cooperating with each other; still,
their dual effort is known as The Second Crusade.
Eleanor had no intention of sitting quietly at home while her husband went
off on his adventure. The king's advisors may have been opposed to taking
Eleanor and her company of 300 women along on the Crusade, but Eleanor was
also offering the services of a thousand men from Aquitaine, and the king
accepted. When they reached Antioch they were greeted by Eleanor's uncle,
Raymond of Poitiers, who had become ruler of the city by marrying its young
princess. Raymond entertained the crusaders in grand style, paying special
attention to his flirtatious niece.
Although Raymond had a reputation for being a faithful husband, Eleanor's
reputation was less spotless, and gossip about their relationship soon began
to fly. The rumors followed Eleanor for the rest of her life. Many years
later an English chronicler wrote sneeringly, "How Eleanor, queen of France,
behaved when she was across the sea in Palestine... all these things are well
enough known."
Whether or not Eleanor had an affair with her uncle, she was certainly
influenced by him. When Raymond pleaded for Louis's help in defending
Antioch, Eleanor took his side. When Louis refused to assist Raymond, Eleanor
declared that she wanted a divorce. Louis, who adored his wife, was angry and
hurt. He left Antioch and forced Eleanor to go with him. She never saw
Raymond again. In 1149 he was killed in a battle against the Muslims. His
severed head was sent to the caliph in Baghdad.
The Second Crusade was a failure, partly because of the quarreling among its
leaders. Eventually Louis abandoned the cause and returned to France. Eleanor
went with him -- on a separate ship. On their way home they stopped in Rome,
where the pope persuaded them to go to bed together. The result of this papal
intercession was a second daughter, Alix, born in 1150.
But the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Louis VII never truly recovered
from Eleanor's scandalous behavior in Antioch, and in 1152 Louis granted
Eleanor the divorce she desired. Eleanor was not destined to remain single
for long.
Queen of England
In 1152, less than two months after her divorce from King Louis VII of
France, Eleanor married Henry Plantagenet, the grandson of England's King
Henry I. He was eighteen, eleven years younger than Eleanor. Their marriage
scandalized observers. Eleanor, it was rumored, had previously had an affair
with Henry's father.
In the words of a contemporary writer, Gerald of Wales, "Count Geoffrey of
Anjou when he was seneschal of France took advantage of Queen Eleanor; for
which reason he often warned his son Henry, telling him above all not to
touch her, they say, both because she was his lord's wife, and because he had
known her himself." But, ignoring his father's advice, Henry "presumed to
sleep adulterously with the said queen of France, taking her from his own
lord and marrying her himself. How could anything fortunate, I ask, emerge
from these copulations?"
The first thing to emerge -- just five months after Eleanor and Henry's hasty
marriage -- was a son, William. The child died a few years later. By then
Henry had claimed the English throne. Eleanor, formerly queen of France, was
now the queen of England.
Eleanor and Henry had seven surviving children: Henry, Matilda, Richard,
Geoffrey, Eleanor, Joan, and John. As the children grew up, Eleanor and her
husband grew apart. At first Henry conducted secret love affairs. Then he
began a public relationship with a knight's daughter, Rosamond Clifford, "the
Fair Rosamond." Legend has it that the jealous Queen Eleanor confronted
Rosamond with a dagger in one hand and a cup of poison in the other and
forced her to choose which way she would die. (Rosamond did die in 1177, but
probably of natural causes.)
King Henry later became involved with his son Richard's fiancee, a French
princess who also happened to be the daughter of Eleanor's first husband,
Louis VII. Not surprisingly, Richard never married the girl.
In 1168 Eleanor returned to France to rule her restless subjects. Her court
quickly became a center of culture. She was reunited with her eldest daughter
from her first marriage, Marie, who shared her interests. But Eleanor wasn't
content to spend the rest of her life patronizing troubadours and presiding
over courts of love. She wanted more power than Henry was willing to give
her, and she began plotting against him. Henry summoned her back to England,
where she continued to scheme.
Eleanor the Eagle
In 1173, Eleanor's three eldest sons - Henry, Richard, and Geoffrey -
rebelled against their father, Henry II, with Eleanor's support. They were
forced to flee to France. Eleanor tried to follow, disguised as a man, but
she was captured by Henry's forces.
King Henry kept Eleanor more or less imprisoned for sixteen long years. His
sons continued to war against him; in the end even his favorite son, John,
turned against him. Finally, in 1189, Henry II died. Eleanor and Henry's
eldest son, Henry, was already dead, so Eleanor's favorite, Richard the
Lionheart, became king. Richard soon went away on a crusade, leaving his
mother as regent. "He issued instructions to the princes of the realm, almost
in the style of a general edict, that the queen's word should be law in all
matters," wrote a contemporary chronicler, Ralph of Diceto.
She proved to be a shrewd ruler. When Richard was taken hostage, Eleanor
helped to raise his ransom money. She also stood up to Richard's brother
John, who plotted to seize the throne. She even managed to get Richard and
John to reconcile after Richard's return to England.
Eventually Richard died and John became king. Like Richard, King John
respected his mother and heeded her advice. She, in return, supported him
against his enemies. Eleanor was now quite elderly by the standards of her
time, but she continued to lead an active life, travelling through Europe and
arranging marriages for her grandchildren. In 1202 the ailing Eleanor was
trapped in a castle by the army of the French king, with whom John was at
war, but John freed her.
Eleanor of Aquitaine died in 1204 at the abbey of Fontevrault, which she had
long patronized. She is buried there, as are Henry II and Richard the
According to Ralph of Diceto, Eleanor's life "revealed the truth of a
prophecy which had puzzled all by its obscurity: 'The eagle of the broken
bond shall rejoice in the third nestling.' They called the queen the eagle
because she stretched out her wings, as it were, over two kingdoms - France
and England. She had been separated from her French relatives through
divorce, while the English had separated her from her marriage bed by
confining her to prison . . . Richard, her third son - and thus the third
nestling - was the one who would raise his mother's name to great glory."
The way of
Eleanor of Aquitaine