Celebrating Women’s History Month: March 30

30 Mar

Honoring Eleanor of Aquitaine

Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to Eleanor of Aquitaine. Eleanor was at one point the most powerful and wealthiest woman in the world. Eleanor lived for 82 years, most of the entire 12th century. Eleanor was a determined woman and an awe-inspiring politician. Upon returning from the Second Crusade with her first husband, Louis VII, she demanded a divorce. Louis was amenable to the divorce, for there was no heir, only two daughters. Quite funny now that we know that was Louis’ fault, not Eleanor’s.  Interestingly enough, Louis got custody of their two daughters and Eleanor retained custody of her lands. Later, Eleanor, at age 30, would marry the 20-year-old Henry II.  Within two years, Henry II would become King of England. For those that enjoy the chronicles of Arthur, Eleanor was the patroness of such literary scholars as Wace and Chretien de Troyes.  Eleanor would pass on her love of the arts to her son Richard, who would later become Richard the Lionhearted.

Eleanor and Henry had eight children, two of whom would rule as King of England. Young Henry, heir apparent, died in June of 1183. Richard would succeed his father as King. Eleanor becomes Richard’s regent and goes on the Third Crusade. How sad that the very land rich Eleanor and thus the Plantagenet House, would lose much of its territory to the incompetent King John. John was Eleanor’s youngest son, also known as John Lackland, although he did give us the Magna Carta.

My fascination with Eleanor of Aquitaine started in the 7th grade when I saw the movie, The Lion in Winter. It is difficult not to conjure up the fiercely independent Katherine Hepburn’s face as Eleanor. Click here to learn more about the independent and strong Eleanor of Aquitaine.

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