Eleanor of Aquitaine - Life in Medieval Days

I just adore Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204). She lived to be 82 years old, she was brilliant, she was beautiful, she was strong. For starters, see the two versions of Lion in Winter - one with Katharine Hepburn and one with Glenn Close. Both are really good and show just how strong this woman was.

Eleanor was born in France and was groomed from a young age for greatness. She learned how to ride, how to hunt, read and write, and in short time she was married off to the King of France. She actively rode with him and her troops. In fact as they went on the crusades together, her troops adored her. She was often up with the front troops while her husband rode in the rear. Some stories claim she rode Amazon-style, bare breasted. This would not have been that unusual in the hot climates.

Eleanor became frustrated with the King over time, and in 1152 they dissolved the marrage. Eleanor was 30. Only six weeks later she married the man she had become passionately in love with - King Henry II of England. She was eleven years older than him. King Richard - the famous king from Robin Hood stories - was her son. Eleanor bore many children with Henry, but unfortunately her husband's passion was their undoing. In addition to Eleanor, Henry had MANY mistresses. While Eleanor tolerated them at first, his more extravagant behavior finally wore her down. Eleanor began working with her sons to plot the overthrow of Henry, to kick him off the throne. Henry captured his wife and tossed her into prison. He tried to get her to annul the marriage so he could marry one of his mistresses but she refused.

Finally, Henry died in 1189 and Eleanor was free again. She in fact was regent while Richard was off crusading. When Richard died in 1199, she helped her next son, John, take over Kingship.

Eleanor is amazing in many ways. She led her life on her own terms. She had two husbands who were both kings - and she stood up to them. She served as ruler for England. She was talented in literature - but equally good on a horse and with arms. She was well respected for her talents.

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