Eleanor of Aquitaine: Queen of France, Queen of England

Ralph V. Turner, Author . Yale Univ. $35 (395p) ISBN 978-0-300-11911-4

The self-confident and power-seeking Eleanor of Aquitaine (1124–1204) was heir to France's largest duchy. Eleanor became queen of France through her marriage at 13 to the future Louis VII. But Louis's indecisiveness during the Second Crusade and Eleanor's forthright support of her uncle the prince of Antioch's strategy over Louis's provoked the dissolution of her 15-year marriage. She quickly remarried a younger man, the future Henry II, 12th-century Europe's most powerful monarch. She bore him nine children while acting as regent during Henry's long absences in his reign's crucial early years. But Henry's interventions in her own realm of Aquitaine drove Eleanor to urge her three eldest sons to rebel against their father. After Henry's death, she emerged from 15 years of house arrest to play a significant political role in the reigns of her sons Richard I and John. Despite repetitious prose and a somewhat off-putting academic format, Turner's (King John ) work is highly readable and informative, fleshing out the adventurous life and times of a spirited, beautiful and ambitious political animal who paid a heavy price for defying medieval expectations of women. Illus., maps. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/30/2009
Release date: 06/01/2009
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Open Ebook - 416 pages - 978-0-300-15989-9
Paperback - 395 pages - 978-0-300-17820-3
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