Post-classical history

Eleanor of Aquitaine (c. 1122-1204)

Duchess of Aquitaine (1137-1204) and participant in the Second Crusade (1147-1149).

The heiress to the vast lands of William X, duke of Aquitaine, Eleanor married Louis VII of France a few days before his accession. She accompanied the king on the ill- fated crusade but sided with her uncle Raymond of Poitiers, prince of Antioch, in a dispute over campaign strategy in Outremer. Disillusioned with marriage to the austere Louis and a willing pawn in her uncle’s intrigues, she had to be forced to accompany the king to Tripoli, to the lasting damage of her reputation.

The birth of a second daughter (rather than the hoped-for male heir) in 1149 or 1150 ensured that the by now acrimonious marriage ended in annulment in 1152. She swiftly married Henry Plantagenet, count of Anjou (the future Henry II of England), by whom she had five sons and three daughters. Her support of her sons’ revolt in 1173 led to many years’ imprisonment. She played an important political role during the reigns of her favorite son, the crusader Richard the Lionheart, and his brother John. She was buried at the abbey of Fontevraud.

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