Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life

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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 t

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 more 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!Bestseller Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life By Alison Weir is a Ebook 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 sonsRenowned 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.. Librarian Note There is than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.Alison Weir born 1951 is a British writer of history books for the general public, mostly in the form of biographies about British kings and queens She currently lives in Surrey, England, with her two children.Before becoming an author, Weir worked as a teacher of children with special needs She received her formal training in history at teacher training college.. Bestseller Books Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life Despite the title and the author's stated ambition to write a balanced account of Eleanor - neither on the side lines nor a romantic heroine - this book is best read as a friendly, accessible history of the early Plantagenets. Something to read if you've enjoyed The Lion in Winter and fancy knowing a bit more about that quarrelsome, competitive family. Sadly Eleanor remains definitely on the sidelines. Weir doesn't discuss the source material, so as a reader you can't know if this was her choice or just inevitable given the material she had to work with. Weir could have spent time discussing in general terms what the life of a great Duchess and Queen would have been like, but she prefers to concentrate on the political (or family (view spoiler)[ the two are interchangeable in this case (hide spoiler)]) drama. This is great if you want to know more about Henry II and Richard I, but it does mean that she gives space to discussing events that don't touch on Eleanor, her activities or her relationship with her own lands of Aquitaine. Within sight of the end of the book there is a throw away reference to the impact of the town charters that Eleanor issued had on increasing prosperity in Aquitaine. It is the kind of detail that suggests that there was information that Weir could have expanded on that might have brought us closer to Eleanor. The title person taking the back seat in a book that is, apparently, meant to be about her isn't a great sign. Though I suppose it does indicate how our fascination for the idea of a person like Eleanor,can easily run far, far ahead of our ability to have a sensible discussion about them. We can't know such people as individuals, though we can think about them in terms of the web-like structures of power and authority and custom and tradition in which they sat. However as an account of the early Plantagenets, that striving bunch all struggling against one another for power, it is a decent read.Weir is an amateur historian, I spotted a couple of mistakes (using Turks as a synonym for Muslim makes no sense at all when discussing medieval Sicily and the Truce of God was not a crusader privilege it was like the similarly named Peace of God an agreement that nobles and knights swore to not to fight on certain days and not to harm certain non-combatants in the course of warfare) which makes me wondering how many there were that I didn't pick up on. Weir makes a lot of use of chronicles, it is good that she's taking the time to use primary sources and not just rely on other people's subsequent work, but she does not seem to have been reading them critically. Chronicles are a bit like newspapers today, they have their political biases and they tend to tell certain types of story while ignoring others, its not advisable to take them at face value (view spoiler)[and the same is also true of medieval chronicles (hide spoiler)].This particularly struck me as a potential problem in her treatment of stories of adultery involving Eleanor. While on the one hand I'm sure everyone can think of examples of modern politicians who have managed to have affairs and keep it fairly secret for years, on the other hand in the middle ages without reliable contraceptives that would have been a very big risk for noble women to run. You start to wonder how much the stories of adulterous relationships in chronicles are just gossip and particularly the gossip of people sworn to celibacy imagining that people in the secular world are indiscriminately having sex all the time.However Weir's book is a nice tale of conniving, back-stabbing, intriguing, power-hungry folk, filled with appropriate medieval bad language even if Eleanor herself remains elusive in this biography about her.
Eleanor of Aquitaine Biography, Children Facts HISTORY Jul , Eleanor of Aquitaine Becomes Queen of France Louis and Eleanor were married in July , but had little time to get to know one another before Louis father the king fell ill and died. Eleanor of Aquitaine Biography, Facts, Significance Eleanor was the daughter and heiress of William X, duke of Aquitaine and count of Poitiers, who possessed one of the largest domains in France larger, in fact, than those held by the French king.Upon William s death in she inherited the duchy of Aquitaine and in July married the heir to the French throne, who succeeded his father, Louis VI, the following month. Eleanor of Aquitaine Ancient History Encyclopedia Eleanor of Aquitaine Queen Biography Apr , Eleanor of Aquitaine was queen consort to two kings and mother to two , making her the most powerful woman in th century Europe. BBC History Eleanor of Aquitaine Eleanor was the elder daughter of William, tenth Duke of Aquitaine The exact date of her birth is unknown, but she was raised in one of Europe s most cultured courts and given an excellent

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  • Alison Weir Post author

    Librarian Note There is than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.Alison Weir born 1951 is a British writer of history books for the general public, mostly in the form of biographies about British kings and queens She currently lives in Surrey, England, with her two children.Before becoming an author, Weir worked as a teacher of children with special needs She received her formal training in history at teacher training college.

One thought on “Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life

  • Despite the title and the author s stated ambition to write a balanced account of Eleanor neither on the side lines nor a romantic heroine this book is best read as a friendly, accessible history of the early Plantagenets Something to read if you ve enjoyed The Lion in Winter and fancy knowing a bit about that quarrelsome, competitive family Sadly Eleanor remains definitely on the sidelines Weir doesn t discuss the source material, so as a reader you can t know if this was her choice or just in [...]


  • 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 [...]


  • 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 [...]


  • 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 understa [...]


  • 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 fai [...]


  • 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 [...]


  • 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 Eleano [...]


  • 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 b [...]


  • Alison Weir always gets at least four stars for every book I read of hers Marks out of ten for this one, would be nine Alison writes with all the authority and passion of the wildest beast that ever spurred a stirrup, galloping through the Angevin empire Her subject, Eleanor of Aquitaine , is lifted from the mists and myths of eight hundred years Her biography is also partly eclipsed as circumstance of the paternal world of the royal courts of Europe in the Middle Ages Even so, the image is vivi [...]


  • 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 [...]


  • 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 [...]


  • This one was not as easy for me to get through as The Princes in the Tower, but I still enjoyed it The reason it reads a little slower is just because of the exhaustive notes and the fact that she spends a lot time on analysis of sources here Which makes it feel authoritative, but also a bit like a textbook However, Eleanor s life was sexy and interesting enough on its own It really doesn t need that much help to be a page turner I finished it and really liked it Recommended for anyone with a [...]


  • As if Timeline hadn t convinced me enough, life in the Middle Ages was damn hard This biography was not so much about Eleanor of Aquitaine as about the events and the men that governed her life feudal wars, countless treaties made and broken, provences switching hands, marriages made and then annulled because of consanguinity, kings and bishops being crowned and excommunicated, and women being sold in marriage during their early years earliest was three to make good on those treaties Names ran i [...]


  • A historical, non fiction accounting of Eleanor of Aquitaine, wife of two kings France s King Louis VII and England s King Henry II and mother of three kings England s Young King Henry, King Richard I and King John She was born in 1122 and died at the age of 82.quite a phenomenal life span for that time period Her influence, direct and indirect, helped to shape the history of France, England and quite a bit of the European continent Eleanor s descendants include Kings and Queens of several diffe [...]


  • There are not many important women of the Middle Ages, but Eleanor of Aquitaine has to be the most prominent and important wife to King Louis VII of France and King Henry II of Britain and Aquitaine, mother of King Richard the Lionheart and King John of Magna Carta fame.Quite a few biographies have been written over the years of Eleanor of Aquitaine, but there has never been one so adherent to primary and secondary sources, to the extent that the scenes depicted veritably come to life before you [...]


  • Interesting, and probably really 3.5 stars In part it is a history of Eleanor s times, but since she did much to make those times what they were, that didn t bother me.


  • Some thoughts now that I ve finished I wish there had been Eleanor in this book She kind of made cameo appearances in this book about her own life, rather than being the star I m not sure how much to fault Alison Weir for this, as I ve enjoyed other biographies by her that I ve read and this is really the first one I ve been lukewarm on And while it s true that this is the first Eleanor of Aquitaine biography I ve read so there may be better ones, it s also true that overall there isn t a ton [...]


  • It s probably not a good idea to approach a book of medieval history with high entertainment expectations Life in twelfth century Europe A grim, relentless grind of war, disease, famine or food so bad famine s almost preferable and unquestioning obedience to God, king, overlord, husband even for the Queen of England and duchess of what constitutes most of modern day France.So my attitude going into Eleanor of Aquitaine dread, fortified by strong coffee was just about right And wouldn t you know [...]


  • This is a very well researched narrative on the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine Unlike other women of her era, she controlled property, was able to retain it and, therefore, was a participant in and not a bystander to events The nuns of Fontevrault extol the brilliance of the royal progeny with which she illuminated the world There were no newspapers then, and being cloistered, they had only Eleanor s word on this While she is the mother of 2 kings 3 if the Younger King counts , these sons are not [...]


  • Weir faces some interesting challenges as a historian here sifting reliable sources about Eleanor from apocryphal stories and putting together a coherent picture of the powerful queen from the traces left in chronicles about the men she influenced What emerges is a remarkably clear and compelling story of an intelligent and capable woman who married two kings, birthed ten children, marched in two Crusades, ran kingdoms in her husbands and sons absences, incited her sons to rebellion, argued with [...]


  • As with most any of the biographies Alison Weir writes, it is well researched history of times when not so much is available, but can be teased from newly discovered sources She does make some interpretations and extrapolations, but always logical ones based from the data she researches Extrapolations intended to make the place and culture of the times clear to us She also always writes entertainingly and gives you a sense of the subject and their world.


  • When I was at school, I was under the impression that history was dreadfully boring and stuffy and loathed most of my lessons However, having since been bitten by the history bug thanks to watching Horrible Histories and becoming completely obsessed with Hilary Mantel s Thomas Cromwell, I now lay all of the blame for that firmly at the feet of my teacher, who must have been completely inept to have made our history sound so dreary I ve now decided to embark on a bit of an odyssey through as much [...]


  • Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of history s most formidable women, so inevitably many have had axes to grind regarding her, whether about the immorality and awfulness of her terrible acts and attitudes, or about the ahead of her time awesomeness indicated by those exact same acts and attitudes And then of course you have the school of historians desperate to prove that everyone throughout history has been just as dull as themselves, and anything interesting must have been made up Weir tries to ste [...]


  • For saying this was a biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine, this book had surprisingly little information on the Queen herself Instead, it read as a documentation of the actions of her various husbands, sons and, at one point, Thomas Beckett I understand the need to contextualize the period and Eleanor s position within it but I felt like I rather lost sight of Eleanor at some points For instance, a detailed analysis of Beckett s and Henry s relationship was underpinned by the conclusion that there [...]


  • I selected this book as a biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine, it is almost 500 pages, so I expected to learn a lot about the fascinating life of this famous queen Unfortunately, not many reliable contemporary sources that record the protagonist life are available to us, and in consequence, my expectations had to be readjusted Even in this book, Eleanor remains a secondary figure Many chapters are dedicated to the lives of the queen spouses King Luis VII of France, Henry II of England , her famous [...]


  • I was torn between giving this 3 or 4 stars, as it was really a 3.5 I was inclined to go for 3, but I listened to it as an audiobook, so I m giving it a bit of a boost There were large passages that simply lost my attention, which I might have had an easier time with if I were reading it in print I understand that in a historical biography, especially of a woman, you re going to get a lot of information about the other people in her life especially the men However, I ve read other historical bio [...]


  • I arrived at this volume rather randomly, and picked it up to read likewise, being familiar with the name Eleanor of Aquitaine and being aware that it was evocative of something, but I couldn t really remember what About halfway through, I realised I was thinking primarily of a childhood Christmas viewing of The Lion In Winter, so yay for nostalgia Anyway, Eleanor s story puts her dead centre at the pulsing heart of the formation of Europe, for all that as a person she ends up sidelined a lot Ev [...]


  • I m two chapters into this book, and I ve decided to bail out This book is almost a textbook on France in the 12th century The author, in spite of a understandable feminist view of Eleanor, was objective and not necessarily sympathetic to Eleanor Eleanor was known to play politics, and lovers She actually got divorced practically unheard of in the 12th century and remarried King Henry II of England Pretty good hook Unfortunately, the book is not very compelling Page after page brings a litany of [...]


  • I want a bumper sticker that says I heart Alison Weir She, without a doubt, is one of my favorite biographers because I can trust her completely She does not rely of hearsay or legend, but searches through the contemporary writings of her subject and their peers to worm out the truth Where there is no definitive answer, she gives her readers her best educated guess, but always reminds us that it is merely a guess In this biography, I learned about the fascinating Eleanor of Aquitaine than I dre [...]


  • Updated review as if 4 27 17 I m finding and to be skeptical of this biography There was a time when I didn t question much that Weir wrote, but now that I m writing my own book about Eleanor and reading through newer biographies with new material, I question where some of Weir s information came from, as there are many things not cited It s kind of disappointing when this kind of thing happens As usual, Weir does an excellent job using all sources available to bring new light to her subject E [...]


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