ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE by Curtis H. Walker

ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A scholarly and carefully documented re-creation of the life and times of the vivacious queen, but less of a portrait than a period study. Wife of two great medieval monarchs and mother of Richard the Lionheart and the evil King John, the life of Eleanor recounted here from her marriage at fifteen to Louis of France to her death at a vigorous eighty-two, reads like an epic -- her restless union with the devout Louis ending in a manufactured divorce, a scandalous interlude with her uncle, Prince Raymond of Antioch, a tumultuous and passionate marriage to young Henry, the future Henry II of England, her iron-willed support of her son Richard, flaunting Henry's prejudice in favor of John, a charming patron of the arts and inspiration for the Court of Love, and always her steel-like defense of her French lands. Her life story moves against the variegated background of 12th century Europe with its impetuous and hot-headed monarchs, wars flaming at a word between noble brothers, bids and counter-deals for power involving exchanges of land, daughters, and homage, and the fairy tale spectacle of the bloody Crusades. The narrative, although somewhat antiseptic in perspective, is controlled in style and absorbing in content. Some explanatory notes for students at the end, but this has general appeal as a conscientious study of a vivid period.

Publisher: University of North Carolina