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Eleanor of Aquitaine by Alison Weir

Eleanor of Aquitaine (1999)

by Alison Weir

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I arrived at this volume rather randomly, and picked it up to read likewise, being familiar with the name Eleanor of Aquitaine and being aware that it was evocative of... something, but I couldn't really remember what. About halfway through, I realised I was thinking primarily of a childhood Christmas viewing of The Lion In Winter, so yay for nostalgia. Anyway, Eleanor's story puts her dead centre at the pulsing heart of the formation of Europe, for all that as a person she ends up sidelined a lot. Even when at her most powerful and effective as a personage, it's the other, male actors who are running around fighting and redrawing the map every month or so. This sidelining is a function of her femaleness in a male world, and it also tends to get her written out of a lot of histories, but still, if this was really her life, as opposed to the Rise of the Plantagenets, we'd know more about what she was doing and where she was living. Instead, An empire forms consolidates, rocks with internecine, not to say legendary, family squabbling, and ultimately falls apart and Eleanor's life is revealed only where she intersects with it. But she intersects a lot, and the story of Henry the Second and his wife and sons and Richard and John and warfare and crusades and marriages and annulments is a blazing, torrid epic. 'Every family has its ups and downs,' as Katharine Hepburn is wont to say. ( )
  Nigel_Quinlan | Oct 21, 2015 |
Eleanor of Aquitaine lived in the 12th century. She was initially wed to King Louis VII of France, but when they only produced daughters, they went their separate ways and Eleanor then married King Henry II of England. The two of them went on to produce many children, both boys and girls. Their marriage eventually went sour and Eleanor was imprisoned for a while. She was later released and she fought for her sons (who were fighting amongst themselves, as well) to retain the lands she wanted to pass on to them.

It was ok. It is nonfiction, so was somewhat dry in parts. Alison Weir was trying to write the book using primarily contemporary sources, but there were a lot of gaps when there was nothing written about Eleanor, so I found that a good portion of the book focused more on Henry and their sons, which was unfortunate. I would have liked more on Eleanor (though I understand that there's just not that much out there, so from a nonfiction standpoint, probably impossible). ( )
  LibraryCin | Apr 13, 2015 |
An impressive woman.

In an age frequently remembered for Kings, popes, and knights there were influential women who wielded power and moved the world. Eleanor was the mother of Richard the Lionhearted and King John (softsword). She assisted Henry I become one of the most powerful kings of the earth and went crusading to the holy land.

The author seems to do a good job of identifying and discussing the myths that rose about her over the years and discussing the truth.

( )
  Chris_El | Mar 19, 2015 |
I love books like this. The writing was so good and so well researched that I mourned when Eleanor died. She lived so long ago and someone Alison Weir brings her so close to you that you become part of her story. ( )
  sscarllet | Nov 20, 2014 |
Not so much detail about Eleanor herself but a brilliant picture of the life of mediaeval Europe. I'm not a royalist and usually prefer books about the ordinary people, but this book is a very entertaining read. It shows the various royals, dukes, counts and church dignitaries as a bunch of liars, murderers, rapists and thieves who could rival anything in fiction for brutality. Only a pity that we don't get the other side of the story - that of the peasants and townsfolk who sufferd their depredations. ( )
  SChant | Apr 25, 2013 |
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This book is dedicated
with heartfelt thanks
to my agent

and to
who has edited so many of my books
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In the Romanesque cathedral of Poitiers a man and a woman stood before the high altar, exchanging wedding vows.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Alison Wier is a misspelling of Alison Weir.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345434870, Paperback)

Combining the pace and descriptive quality of a novel with the authority of a textbook, Alison Weir's study of the revered and reviled Eleanor of Aquitaine should be valuable to anyone with an interest in medieval European history. Wife of Louis VII of France and subsequently of Henry II of England, and mother of Richard "the Lion-Hearted," Eleanor played a prominent part in the politics of the 12th century. The author of a number of other books on the medieval period (Life of Elizabeth I, The Children of Henry VIII), Weir brings all the color and ever-present dangers of Eleanor's world to life, filling the text with absorbing background detail and revelatory contemporary anecdotes. She is concerned throughout to make critical analysis of the primary sources, the later myths about Eleanor, and other modern biographies. This results in a fresh and thoughtful perspective on the energetic life of a determined and ambitious woman living with the sexism, excesses, and violence of a society in which the word of a single man could condemn thousands to death. Eleanor of Aquitaine is a vivacious but scholarly book with extensive notes and references, giving an objective and rich account of the staunch Eleanor, her feuding family and her complex and unstable world. --Karen Tiley, Amazon.co.uk

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:16 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine, discussing her early years in twelfth-century Europe, her marriages to France's King Louis VII and England's Henry II, her unprecedented political power, and other aspects of her life.

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