"Beautiful, ambitious and powerful, both revered and reviled throughout history, Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the controversial and colourful personalities of the Middle Age.
Heir to the duchy of Aquitaine, Queen of France - as the wife of Louis VII - and then married to Henry II, she became the most prominent woman in England. Many saw her as a ruthless virago, governed by a lust for power, who schemed against her husband and dominated the lives of her sins, Richard the Lionheart and King John. Shakespeare portrays her as 'a monstruous injurer of heaven and earth.'
Yet there was another side to this powerful queen constort. Worshipped by men and idealised in the songs of the troubadors, she was the sex symbol of her age. She also became renowned as a generous and strong ruler, throwing off the constraints that shackled twelfth century women. Among her achievements was her patronage of the abbey at Fontevrault as a refuge for battered wives.
Here acclaimed medieval historian Desmond Seward reconciles the paradoxes of Eleanor's formidable personality, in a magnificent work that does full justice to a great woman."
Desmond Seward was born in Paris and educated at Ampleforth and St Catharine's College, Cambridge. He is the author of many books including The Monks of War: The Military Religious Orders, The Hundred Years War, The Wars of the Roses, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry V as Warlord, Josephus, Masada and the Fall of Judaea (da Capo, US, April 2009), Wings over the Desert: in action with an RFC pilot in Palestine 1916-18 (Haynes Military, July 2009) and Old Puglia: A Portrait of South Eastern Italy (Haus August 2009). Forthcoming is The Last White Rose: the Spectre at the Tudor Court 1485-1547 (C...
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