Eleanor of Aquitaine

Eleanor of Aquitaine

biographical name

(born c. 1122—died April 1, 1204, Fontevrault, Anjou, Fr.) Queen consort of Louis VII of France (1137–80) and Henry II of England (1152–89), the most powerful woman of 12th-century Europe. She inherited the duchy of Aquitaine and married the heir to the French throne. Beautiful, capricious, and strong-willed, she accompanied Louis on the Second Crusade (1147–49), and her conduct aroused his jealousy. The marriage was annulled (1152), and she married Henry Plantagenet, soon to be Henry II; the marriage united England, Normandy, and western France under his rule. She bore Henry five sons, including the future kings Richard I the Lionheart and John Lackland, and three daughters who married into other royal houses. Her court at Poitiers became a centre of culture, fostering the poetry of the troubadours. She may have spurred her sons to revolt against Henry (1173); when the rebellion failed she was captured and confined until his death (1189). She was active in government during the reign of Richard I, ruling during his crusade to the Holy Land and ransoming him from Austria. After Richard died (1199) and John became king, she saved Anjou and Aquitaine for John against French threats, then retired to the monastery at Fontevrault.

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