Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Eleanor of Aquitaine ~ Library Loot ~ Feb. 1-7

I took one of those online tests called the Which Historical Queen Are You test (click that link, if you want to take it).   Here's my result:

You are:  Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of England and of France, 1122-1204.

Wow, that's pretty good, since Eleanor was one of the most influential figures of the 12th century.  Married at age fifteen to Louis VII of France, she had two daughters by him, but no sons.  She eventually managed to have that marriage annulled in order to marry Henry of Anjou, who would become King Henry II of England.  She bore Henry eight children, two of them future kings of England (Richard the Lionhearted and John of Magna Carta fame) and two of them future queens (Eleanor of Castile and Joan of Sicily).  Throughout her life, she maintained control over her extensive lands in Southern France, and cleverly managed the lives of her children and grandchildren.

Okay, now I've gotta read about this queen I'm so much like.  Today's library loot is all Eleanor, though I'll probably only read two or three, after perusing things like book beginnings, chapter headings (if any), and the table of contents of the biographies.  Donna tells me this first one is excellent, and I like E. L. Konigsburg's The View from Saturday.

A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver ~ by E. L. Konigsburg, 1973, YA fiction
Eleanor of Aquitaine is in Heaven, waiting to learn whether or not her second husband, King Henry II of England, will be able to join her.  Henry had died even before Eleanor, but he still had not won admission into Heaven.  Waiting with Eleanor are Henry's mother, Empress Matilda, and William the Marshal.  A chance encounter with Abbot Suger, an old friend of Eleanor's from the time of her first marriage, starts the four of them remembering times past.  Each person in turn tells a part of Eleanor's life, vividly illustrating the excitement of living in twelfth-century England and France, and especially the excitement of being Eleanor.  Wife of two kings, mother of two others, Richard the Lion Heart and John, she set the tone of court life for her times, sponsored poets and musicians, established the legend of King Arthur as a romantic feature of English literature, set the Rules of Courtly Love, and helped rule a kingdom that spanned from Scotland to the Pyrenees.  And she did all this in a time when a king could keep his queen a prisoner — and did!  This book is a novel, fiction, fantasy even. But everything in it about Eleanor and her family and her times is true.
Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life ~ by Alison Weir, 2000, biography
Eleanor of Aquitaine was a remarkable woman.  She was an important factor in the reign of four kings, lived to the ripe old age of 82, bore ten children, and outlived all but two of them. Her sons were kings of England and her daughters queens of Castile and Sicily, while her later descendants included a Holy Roman emperor and kings of France and Spain, as well as a couple of saints.  In an age of men, she was indeed a powerful woman.
Captive Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine ~ by Alison Weir, 2010, fiction
Nearing her thirtieth birthday, Eleanor has spent the past dozen frustrating years as consort to the pious King Louis VII of France.  For all its political advantages, the marriage has brought Eleanor only increasing unhappiness — and daughters instead of the hoped-for male heir.  But when the young and dynamic Henry of Anjou arrives at the French court, Eleanor sees a way out of her discontent.  For even as their eyes meet for the first time, the seductive Eleanor and the virile Henry know that theirs is a passion that could ignite the world.  Returning to her duchy of Aquitaine after the annulment of her marriage to Louis, Eleanor immediately sends for Henry, the future King of England, to come and marry her.  The union of this royal couple will create a vast empire that stretches from the Scottish border to the Pyrenees, and marks the beginning of the celebrated Plantagenet dynasty.
Duchess of Aquitaine: A Novel of Eleanor ~ by Margaret Ball, 2006, fiction
Upon her beloved father's sudden death in 1137, Eleanor finds herself the Duchess of Aquitaine at fifteen.  With no time to mourn and less to finish growing up, Eleanor realizes she must act fast:  if word of the duke's death should spread, feudal lords from across France will scramble to her doorstep, clawing at each other to win Aquitaine and Poitou by marrying her.  None of her advisors can think what to do, but, with wisdom belying her youth, Eleanor herself devises an ingenious plan to stave off future suitors by marrying none other than King Louis himself.  For only as queen can she unify and ultimately save France from itself.
Eleanor of Aquitaine: The Richest Queen in Medieval Europe ~ by David Hilliam, 2005, YA biography
Explores the life of this medieval queen, including her political abilities, and the contribution she made to twelfth-century France and Great Britain.
Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Four Kings ~ by Amy Kelly, 1950, biography
Eleanor's biography has the dramatic interest of a novel.  She was at the very center of the rich culture and clashing politics of the twelfth century.  Richest marriage prize of the Middle Ages, she was Queen of France. as the wife of Louis VII, and went with him on the exciting and disastrous Second Crusade.  Divorced from Louis, she married Henry Plantagenet, who became Henry II of England.  Her resources and resourcefulness helped Henry win his throne, she was involved in the conflict over Thomas Becket, and, after Henry's death, she handled the affairs of the Angevin empire with a sagacity that brought her the trust and confidence of popes and kings and emperors.  After Henry's death, her sons, Richard Coeur-de-Lion and John "Lackland" (of Magna Charta fame), fiercely pursued the feud up to and even beyond the end of the century.  But the dynastic struggle of the period was accompanied by other stirrings:  the intellectual revolt, the struggle between church and state, the secularization of literature and other arts, the rise of the distinctive urban culture of the great cities.  Eleanor knew every city from London and Paris to Byzantium, Jerusalem, and Rome.  This book reveals in Eleanor a greatness of vision, an intelligence, and a political sagacity that have been missed by those who have dwelt on her caprice and frivolity.
Look what else I've found

The tomb of Eleanor and Henry II in Fontevraud Abbey in Anjou, France, shows her reading a book.  I think she would have been a book blogger, if she lived in this day and age.  Yes, even if she ruled England or the whole of Europe.

Library Loot is a weekly meme co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.  If you would like to share a list of the loot you brought home from the library, Claire has the Mister Linky this week.


Claire (The Captive Reader) said...

So many wonderful books! I was fascinated by Eleanor when I was in my teens and loved reading biographies and historical fiction about her. Enjoy these!

Amy said...

Loved this! Very interesting!

Linda said...

I got Catherine de Medici. I should read more about her. I know a little. Enjoy your loot on Eleanor. Fascinating woman!

Ryan said...

Eleanor of Aquitaine is one of the most fascinating personages of the Middle Ages. You have reminded me that I need to read more history, soon.

Anonymous said...

Must resist the urge to add more books to my library queue just yet... but they look like excellent reads!

Beth said...

I've read a few biographies and some fiction about her, and my favorites are the ones who don't adore her. Sometimes the books try to make everything she does nice, and that tends to make her seem passive or ineffectual -- I prefer a strong, sometimes cold hearted woman.

Marg said...

I'd be happy with that as a result! I love reading about her.