Eleanor of Aquitaine A life

Alison Weir, 1951-

Book - 2000

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BIOGRAPHY/Eleanor
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Subjects
Published
New York : Ballantine Books 2000, c1999.
Edition
1st American ed
Language
English
Item Description
Some copies include a reader's guide (p. [445-450]).
Physical Description
xxi, 441 p., [8] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 25 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (p. [355]-373) and index.
ISBN
0345434870
9780345434876
0345405404
Main Author
Alison Weir, 1951- (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Popular British historian Weir moves her frame of reference back several notches in time from her usual focus on the Plantagenet and Tudor eras to cast her consummately professional biographical light on one of the most fascinating women in not only English history but all of European history, Eleanor of Aquitaine. As in the case of Weir's previous books, including The Life of Elizabeth I (1998), a good background in European history adds to the reader's appreciation but is not essential, for the author's well-written pages--as in her previous books--lead easily to a rich, deep, and accessible understanding of the topic. Eleanor was an important heiress in her own right, and she heightened her fortunes by marrying, in turn, King Louis VII of France and then the duke of Anjou, who became King Henry II of England. Weir meaningfully views Eleanor within the context of the constraints on women--even royal ones--in medieval society; Eleanor emerges here as "a spirited woman who was determined to do as she pleased." ((Reviewed January 1 & 15, 2000)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Weir also excels at description in her examination of the wife of two kings and the mother of two kings and two queens (Louis VII of France and England's Henry II were the husbands, Richard I and King John were the sons, and Joan of England, Queen of Sicily and Eleanor of England, Queen of Castile were the daughters). Eleanor of Aquitaine, like Cleopatra, played a pivotal role in her era, often pitted against powerful men and holding a driving agenda and ambition of her own. Weir offers a full portrait of Eleanor from both the primary sources and the myths surrounding the queen consort and, like Schiff, does so in a biography that is story-based, richly detailed, and scholarly. It is a wonderful melding of person, place, and time. Neal Wyatt, "RA Crossroads", Booksmack!, 11/4/10 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

The noted British biographer has done Elizabeth I, so why not Eleanor, that tough-talking dame who dumped the king of France for England's Henry II? Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

As delicately textured as a 12th-century tapestry, royal biographer Weir's (The Life of Elizabeth I, etc.) newest book is exhilarating in its color, ambition and human warmth. The author exhibits a breathtaking grasp of the physical and cultural context of Queen Eleanor's life, presenting a fuller, more holistic appreciation of a dazzling world whose charms can easily be anesthetized by dull narrative. And from the start, her auburn-haired subject, a live wire in a restrictive society, muse of poets and crusaders, seduces the reader. Weir conveys a deep empathy for the relaxed south of France where Eleanor was raised, a natural home for the gospel of courtly love. She paints a Brueghelesque picture of England, where wolves roamed the forests and people made skates in winter out of animal bones. In approaching as complex a subject as feudalism, Weir wears her learning lightly and has a pleasant habit of anticipating all the questions of a curious reader. Her account parades a sequence of extraordinary characters: the saintly abbot Bernard of Clairvaux, who as an adolescent leapt into a freezing pond until his erection subsided; Eleanor's first husband, Louis VII of France, haunted by the screams of burning victims after his assault on a village in Champagne; her lover, Raymond of Poitiers, who could bend an iron bar with his bare hands; and her second husband, Henry II of England, her princely mirror in energy, intelligence and sexuality. Above all, there is the heroine, viewed clear-sightedly in all her intoxicating and imperious irresistibility. Illus. not seen by PW. (Feb.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A biography of one of the most influential women of the Middle Ages discusses her marriages to Louis VII of France and Henry II of England, and her later efforts to secure the throne of England for her sons.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

In this beautifully written biography, Alison Weir paints a vibrant portrait of a truly exceptional woman and provides new insights into her intimate world. Renowned in her time for being the most beautiful woman in Europe, the wife of two kings and mother of three, Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the great heroines of the Middle Ages. At a time when women were regarded as little more than chattel, Eleanor managed to defy convention as she exercised power in the political sphere and crucial influence over her husbands and sons. Eleanor of Aquitaine lived a long life of many contrasts, of splendor and desolation, power and peril, and in this stunning narrative, Weir captures the woman—and the queen—in all her glory. With astonishing historic detail, mesmerizing pageantry, and irresistible accounts of royal scandal and intrigue, she recreates not only a remarkable personality but a magnificent past era.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Renowned in her time for being the most beautiful woman in Europe, the wife of two kings and mother of three, Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the great heroines of the Middle Ages. At a time when women were regarded as little more than chattel, Eleanor managed to defy convention as she exercised power in the political sphere and crucial influence over her husbands and sons. In this beautifully written biography, Alison Weir paints a vibrant portrait of this truly exceptional woman, and provides new insights into her intimate world. Eleanor of Aquitaine lived a long life of many contrasts, of splendor and desolation, power and peril, and in this stunning narrative, Weir captures the woman— and the queen—in all her glory. With astonishing historic detail, mesmerizing pageantry, and irresistible accounts of royal scandal and intrigue, she recreates not only a remarkable personality but a magnificent past era.