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Eleanor the Crusader

My next book – due for release in October, all being well – is about Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. They were one of Europe’s most fabulous power couples, ruling lands that spread from the North Sea to the Mediterranean. Eleanor was nine years Henry’s senior. When they married in 1152, he was a brash nineteen-year-old, already Count of Anjou and Duke of Normandy, and planning to add the crown of England to his already glittering haul. Eleanor was twenty-eight, and until recently had been the Queen of France. Her first husband, Louis VII of France, had arranged for their marriage to be set aside on the favourite grounds of consanguinity – being too closely related. He had failed to foresee her swift remarriage to one of his most impressive and therefore threatening subjects.

Everything had come to Henry easily in his teens. His father, Geoffrey the Handsome, Count of Anjou, had conquered Normandy and handed it to his son, and with Geoffrey’s death in 1151, Anjou had also come into Henry’s possession. If his start had been impressive, the rest of his life was to be a story of epic successes, heartbreaking setbacks, war and high politics. By the time of their marriage in 1152 though, Eleanor already had a vast wealth of experience behind her. Although the vast territories of Aquitaine and the chance to get one over on Louis must have formed part of Henry’s thinking in accepting the match, this intimate familiarity with power, particularly royal authority, probably contributed to Eleanor’s appeal too. Before Henry was out of his teens, she had already lived through more than most would see in a lifetime.

The Angevin Empire Controlled by Henry II & Eleanor of Aquitaine

When Louis VII committed to lead the Second Crusade in response to increasingly desperate pleas from the Holy Land for help defending Jerusalem and the states founded by the First Crusade, Eleanor went with him. Many chroniclers point to the king’s puppy-like adoration of his queen, but by 1147 when the host became the journey east, their relationship was not as rosy as it had seemed at first. Louis was a complex character. The second son of Louis VI, he was not born to be king, and his initial education had been a cloistered, religious one. Wrenching him from the surroundings left a deep scar, and the early exposure to the Church’s dislike and distrust of women similarly never healed. Eleanor would famously remark that she feared she had married a monk rather than a king. If Eleanor remained in Paris, she would have a claim to regency powers, and Louis preferred his old mentor Abbot Suger to rule without the potential for a power struggle. Taking Eleanor was more about getting her away from Paris than fear of missing out on her company.

The crusaders left Paris on 11 June 1147, travelling via Metz, through Bavaria, taking two weeks to cross Hungary and arriving at Belgrade in Bulgaria in mid-August. They had been in touch with the envoys of Emperor Manuel Komnenos of the Byzantine Empire, Passage through Constantinople was vital, but the emperor was wary of the approaching army. The king and queen arrived in the fabled city on 4 October. They spent three weeks as the emperor’s guests, staying at the Philopatium, a favourite imperial hunting lodge. The lavish, comfortable surroundings allowed them to recover from their journey and prepare for the hardest part that was still to come. The lighter atmosphere may well have reminded Eleanor of her home in Aquitaine, a bright memory undimmed by the drab, sober dullness of Paris.

Eleanor and Louis VII leaving France for the Second Crusade

Before the end of October, the army crossed the Bosporus and entered Asia. They almost immediately came under frequent, probing attacks as they marched onward. In early January 1148, disaster struck, and Eleanor’s reputation began its tumble into scandal and, let’s face it, lies. On 6 January the crusaders had to cross Cadmos Mountain. It was a logistical nightmare for such a vast army under constant pressure from the Seljuk Turks. Command of the vanguard, leading the crossing, was given to Geoffrey de Rancon, a Poitevin and a vassal of Eleanor’s. The plan was for Geoffrey to reach the peak and wait for the rest of the army to avoid them becoming too strung out. When he got there, Geoffrey found there was not enough room for the remainder of the force and moved on to make space for them. The Seljuks took advantage of the situation and attacked the army as it stretched along the mountain roads. It was a slaughter, Louis himself was in grave danger, and forty of his bodyguard lay among the dead. For those increasingly hostile to the Poitevin queen, the failure of one of her vassals was all the ammunition they needed to blame Eleanor for the loss.

The next stage of the journey was no less perilous. Louis paid Greek guides at Attalia to lead the bulk of the army across land while he, Eleanor and some of his men sought safe passage by sea to Antioch. The three-day journey took a fortnight as the fleet was buffeted relentlessly by storms. Only about half of those who marched out of Attalia reached Antioch alive. The Greek guides had taken the king’s money and betrayed his men. The bedraggled force, described by John of Salisbury as ‘the survivors from the wreck of the army’, were at least safe in the embrace of Antioch. Prince Raymond, the ruler of the Frankish outpost, was Eleanor’s uncle, and the chance to see a member of her shrinking family may well have been part of the lure of the Holy Land to Eleanor. Louis and Raymond appeared to get on well, and the time to recuperate was just what the king and his army needed.

Raymond was desperate to obtain Louis’s help with an assault on Aleppo. It was, the prince explained, a critical step in regaining Edessa, the stated aim of the crusade. Louis, quite possibly already disillusioned with the idea of crusading, was focussed only on reaching Jerusalem to complete a personal pilgrimage. Louis, according to John of Salisbury, became annoyed when ‘the attentions paid by the prince to the queen, and his constant, indeed almost continuous, conversation with her, aroused the king’s suspicions.’ He decided to leave Antioch, but Eleanor expressed a wish to stay with her uncle, backing his strategic desire to attack Aleppo. Raymond offered to keep Eleanor safe ‘if the king would give his consent’, but Louis most assuredly would not. John of Salisbury’s is the earliest account of the rumours that grew from the disagreement, though he never quite gives full form to the story, nor comments on its veracity. He wrote that one of Louis’s secretaries, a eunuch named Thierry Galeran, who was frequently mocked by Eleanor, suggested that ‘guilt under kinship’s guise could lie concealed’. Driven to distraction, Louis packed his things in the middle of the night, and Eleanor was ‘torn away and forced to leave for Jerusalem’. John concluded that this was the beginning of the end of their relationship. Eleanor questioned the validity of their marriage on the grounds of consanguinity, and ‘the wound remained, hide it as best they might.’

It is from this episode that the rumour later emerged, developed and became entrenched that Eleanor had engaged in a sexual relationship with her uncle at Antioch. It was misogynistic mud-slinging: why else would the queen defy the king, a woman rebuke her husband? It was outside the accepted norm, and it never really occurred to them that Eleanor might have her own mind, her own ideas, and, heaven forbid, a better tactical grasp than the king. Clutching around for an explanation, sex was the only one the men writing down these events could settle on. Women were, they believed, driven by an insatiable lust that caused them to try and lead men astray. Eleanor must have seduced her uncle Raymond and been inspired by lustful desire to defy her husband. Essentially, it meant that the whole mess that the Second Crusade was becoming could be blamed firmly on Eleanor. She had ruined what the men, led by her husband, would have made glorious otherwise. If they had been forced to consider the failures of the king, of the men, or the possibility that God had abandoned them, it opened a whole can of worms. That slippery meal was neatly avoided by blaming Eleanor for being a woman.

For centuries afterwards, this affair was largely accepted as fact and Eleanor’s reputation accordingly tainted. William of Tyre was less discrete than John of Salisbury, writing of Raymond, Louis and Eleanor: ‘He resolved also to deprive him of his wife, either by force or by secret intrigue. The queen readily assented to this design, for she was a foolish woman. Her conduct before and after this time showed her to be, as we have said, far from circumspect. Contrary to her royal dignity, she disregarded her marriage vows and was unfaithful to her husband.’ This is the view of Eleanor that persisted, and which accompanied her into her second marriage to Henry. It coloured the view of all of her actions afterwards, but there is no evidence that it is even remotely true.

An Image of Medieval Jerusalem

Louis and Eleanor reached Jerusalem in May 1148. When a council meeting, held by King Baldwin II and attended by Louis, met on 24 June, it was decided that Damascus would be the first target. Raymond and the Count of Tripoli refused to participate in the council meeting, preventing a fully coordinated Christian effort. Still, on 24 July, a month after the meeting, the army arrived outside Damascus. The inhabitants immediately appealed to Nur ad-Din for aid and a vast army was sent to relieve the city. Four days after their arrival, the Christians packed up and left. Louis stayed on in Jerusalem for a while, touring the religious sites. He and Eleanor spent Easter 1149 in the city, at the locations of the crucifixion and resurrection. It was surely an experience to savour at the end of a disastrous expedition.

In April, after increasingly pressing letters from Abbot Suger urging Louis to return, the couple left Jerusalem for Acre. They crossed the sea in separate ships, perhaps a symptom of their worsening relationship. The convoy was attacked and scattered. Louis landed at Calabria, but Eleanor reached land at Palermo, apparently ill. She took several weeks to recuperate before rejoining Louis. The couple made their way to Tusculum, where they visited Pope Eugenius to debrief him on the failures of the crusade. During the visit, Eugenius forbade the couple to mention their consanguinity ever again and provided a bed for them to sleep together in while they stayed with him. Nine months later, they had a daughter, but it was not to save their marriage.

The experience of the Second Crusade must have left a deep mark on Eleanor. She had travelled halfway across the known world, to the place considered the centre of the world. She had endured hardship, faced the mortal peril of battle and constant guerrilla attacks, enjoyed the surroundings of Constantinople and Antioch, where she met her uncle. She had become the increasing focus of an effort to apportion blame for failures, from a vassal disobeying instructions in the mountains to the allegations she had been sleeping with her uncle. In Jerusalem, she had found herself at the religious heart of the world in a profoundly spiritual age. She spent Easter at the very spots Jesus was crucified and resurrected. The journey had ended with the Pope all but forcing her into her husband’s bed to conceive a papally approved child. All this, and she was just twenty-five when she got back to France. Somehow, though, this was not to prove the most dramatic experience of her life. Young Henry was looming on her horizon, and her life would never be the same again.

Was the Black Prince a control freak where his wife was concerned….?

by Henry Justice Ford (1860–1941) from The Book of the Happy Warrior published in 1917

Before I start, I must apologise for the decidedly uncontemporary illustrations. They are an indulgence, I fear. The one above, of the Prince of Wales (known to posterity as the Black Prince) in armour at an army camp, his hands clasped behind his back, seems to me to probably capture him exactly as he was…all the time! Not a man to argue with.

For aeons beyond recollection, men have been the top dogs. What they said, went. And if they were princes, boy did it went! I think it’s safe to say that Edward of Woodstock was just such a man. He decided everything, as Joan of Kent discovered when she became his Princess of Wales.

Joan of Kent by Cheryl Crawford of Crawford Manor Dolls

Joan was reputedly the most beautiful, charming, seductive and enticing woman in England, and had already proved herself in her first marriage by producing two strong sons and two daughters who lived to adulthood. There was something about her that got men going, as the phrase has it, and Edward of Woodstock was no exception. She was his cousin, he called her Jeanette and he was clearly head over heels in love with her…perhaps he always had been, which was why he’d left it so long to get married. He wouldn’t have any other woman but his Jeanette. He was thirty-one and she was thirty-three, and they were married at Windsor on 10th October 1361,

However, although Edward of Woodstock was notably extravagant with gifts to others, he wasn’t with Joan. His mother, Queen Philippa {pingback to 24/6} , wasn’t particularly lavish toward her either, giving her a corset that had to be mended at a cost of £6 13s 4d! That was a lot of dosh back then, so either it was a corset studded with jewels (not comfortable!) or it was practically beyond redemption and required picking apart and rebuilding from scratch! Literally.

Edward had decided views on everything, including his wife’s appearance. It began even before their marriage, with him making suitable changes in how she and her children by her first marriage presented in public. In Penny Lawne’s excellent biography Joan of Kent, starting on page 140, the list of materials, embroideries, furs and so on involved may seem impressive, but are actually modest by the royal standards of the day. And there’s no record at all of any jewellery being given to Joan. He gave far more to his sisters.

The prince even seems to have had a hand in Joan’s wedding dress. Well, not literally, I imagine…although you never know. Maybe not in public! His hand was in the design. The material was red cloth-of-gold, with threads of gold woven on a web of silk. Beautiful, yes, but not as lavish with jewels as the churching gown the queen had worn. Everything for Joan appears to have been low key. Why?

Was Queen Philippa perhaps disapproving of the match? Hence the damaged corset and modest wedding gown?

Philippa of Hainault – from Mary Evans Picture Library

Joan had a chequered marital history and there was always a question over whether or not she was actually free to marry the Prince. She’d been married to Thomas Holand, who started off as seneschal to the Earl of Salisbury but became Earl of Kent. Unfortunately she was also married to the Earl of Salisbury, at the same time perhaps, but that’s another story. The Salisbury match was set aside by the Pope, so that should have been that. Now, with the Prince of Wales’s marriage, Thomas was definitely dead, but Salisbury was still very much alive and kicking, so was he her real husband after all? This must have plagued many a mind at the time, including the king and queen. And the prince’s next surviving brother, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, who had an eye on the succession for himself. Now, if he could prove Joan committed bigamy with Edward…

Was the Prince of Wales only too conscious of this stumbling block? Did he want the marriage to be low key because of it? Or was he just an over-assertive man who thought he knew it all…and got away with it every time because he was a prince? I don’t think there’s any doubt that he loved her, but he just couldn’t help interfering and pushing her around.

I’d like to say it couldn’t happen today, but unfortunately bullying know-alls are still thick on the ground…. All right, all right, I know some of them are women, but the vast majority are men!

 

Princess Cecily of York, a very daring lady….

 

From Wikipedia

Some of you will know that in the 1970s I wrote a trilogy about Cicely/Cecily, daughter of Edward IV. I called her Cicely back then, and have stuck with it, but now she is generally known as Cecily. She had been the third daughter, but on the death of her sister Mary, because second only to Elizabeth of York, who became Henry VII’s queen. At the time of this early trilogy it wasn’t known that Cicely had made a first marriage to Ralph Scrope of Upsall.

Then, in the 21st century, came the discovery of the remains of Cicely’s uncle, Richard III. My interest was sparked anew, and I rewrote my books about Cicely, this time incorporating her marriage to Ralph. In my fictional story, the “marriage” was untrue, and came about because Richard III erroneously believed she wished to marry Ralph, Young love, and all that.

The facts about the Cicely-Ralph marriage may never be known, but the admirable Marie Barnfield has now written an article about the ending of the marriage. You’ll find it at the Society’s Research blog, and a very interesting read it is.

Alas, it seems unlikely we’ll ever get to the bottom of the matter, but it’s now certain that John, Viscount Welles, was not her first husband. Nor was he the last, because on his death she married a Lincolnshire gentleman named Thomas Kymbe, a match about which Henry VII (who was both her brother-in-law and her nephew-in-law, Welles having been Henry’s half-uncle) was downright livid. Absolutely beside himself, it seems, and it was his mother Margaret Beaufort (John Welles’s half-sister) who managed to smooth things out for the unlikely newlyweds. She was very friendly with the wayward Cicely.

Cicely was a very interesting lady. She was only in her late thirties when she died; if she’d survived to old age, who knows who else might have been added to her marriage CV! She was certainly prepared to defy the grim Henry Tudor in order to have Kymbe, who was clearly the man she wanted. Third time lucky!

So wrong he could be right?

This article, by the former MP Norman Baker, appeared in the Mail on Sunday. Actually, the original version was much longer and referred to Elizabeth II as a descendant of Henry VIII. This is an egregious howler, surely, because all of his actual descendants died by 1603 (or the last day of 1602/3 in the old format), although she is a collateral descendant.

Strangely enough, Mr. Baker may just have been right, albeit unwittingly. Henry VIII did have three known illegitimate children, quite apart from the two born to marriages he subsequently annulled. Excluding the trio who reigned after him, as well as Henry Fitzroy Duke of Richmond who also died without issue, leaves us with the offspring of Mary Boleyn, the relationship with whom arguably invalidated his marriage to her sister, even before it happened. Ostensibly her children by her first husband (William Carey), they are Catherine Carey and Henry, Lord Hunsdon, who had a total of about twenty children.

Just like the Poles, the Carey family became extinct in the male line but they still exist through several mixed lines. Vol. 25 no. 9 pp. 345-52 of the Genealogists’ Magazine, through Anthony Hoskins’ article, as cited to me by John Ashdown-Hill, attributes the late Queen Mother to these lines, together with such as Charles Darwin, P.G. Wodehouse, Vita Sackville-West, Sabine Baring-Gould, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Horatio Viscount Nelson, Lady Antonia Pakenham and the second Devereux Earl of Essex (below)- presumably the easiest link to prove, being the shortest by far. His mtDNA was identical to that of Elizabeth I.

Vaughan Williams and Darwin are closely related to each other, as well as to Josiah Wedgwood.

As with all mixed lines, it is impossible to establish much of this descent by either mtDNA or Y-chromosome but who knows how genetic science may develop in the future?

Here is the evidence so far …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PS Thankyou to Peter Hammond for showing me the full article, which also names Lady Anne Somerset, J. Horace Round, William Cowper, Algernon Swinburne, “Princess Daisy of Pless” and Algernon Sidney as also being in the Carey line.

Thankyou also to Marie Barnfield.

Was the younger Despenser buried in two places at the same time….?

Execution of Hugh Despenser the Younger – Hereford, 24 November 1326

We Ricardians know all about the problems, if not to say mysteries, that can arise from the final resting places of famous figures from the past. It doesn’t help that in the medieval period especially a person’s remains could be moved from place to place. Edward IV had his father and brother moved from Pontefract south to Fotheringhay, and Richard III had Henry VI moved from Chertsey Abbey to St George’s Chapel, Windsor. And, of course, for centuries there was the puzzle as to whether the remains of Richard III himself were thrown contemptuously into Leicester’s River Soar, or actually buried at Greyfriars. The latter eventually and very famously proved to be the case.

Now I have happened on another “where was he buried?” mystery, this time from the end of the reign of Edward II. While researching a few details about the later-in-the-14th-century marital goings-on of the 10th/3rd Earl of Arundel, Richard Fitzalan, known as “Copped Hat”, I found myself reading about his first wife, Isabel le Despenser, whom he married on this day, 9 February, in 1321. She was the daughter of Hugh Despenser, 1st Lord Despenser, known to history as Despenser the Younger, to distinguish him from his father, who was, yes, Despenser the Elder. Both were favourites of Edward II, and came to the fore after the abduction, trial and execution of another of the king’s favourites, Piers Gaveston. All three came to nasty ends, as (probably) did Edward II himself, and there is there is a famous illustration of the hanging, drawing and quartering of the younger Despenser in Hereford, see above.

Because of her father’s attainder and shameful execution, Isabel became an inconvenience to Copped Hat. Besides which his lustful and ambitious eye had fallen upon Eleanor of Lancaster, who’d be a much more advantageous Countess of Arundel. As Copped Hat was one of the richest and most influential magnates in the England of Edward II’s son, Edward III, he didn’t have any trouble at all in gaining the Pope’s permission to annul his first marriage, thus clearing the way for Eleanor to slip into the earl’s marital bed.

Where is all this leading? Well, to the fact that the younger Despenser’s widow was apparently granted her husband’s remains (well some of them – ‘the head, a thigh bone and a few vertebrae’) and she had them buried in a lavish tomb at Tewkesbury Abbey.

But in 2004 there were reports that Despenser’s remains had been found during archaeological excavations at Hulton Abbey in Staffordshire. These “new” remains lacked the very bones that had been returned to the younger Despenser’s widow and buried at Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire.

So, if the Hulton Abbey remains are indeed those of the younger Despenser, why wasn’t all of him returned to his widow? Why send her some of him, and then bury the rest at Hulton Abbey? He died in Hereford, and was then buried in Staffordshire and Gloucestershire?

To read more about this medieval mystery, go to  the Reading University website and here 

Films about the monarchy in Britain….

Not that I think William Wallace counts as part of the British monarchy. I don’t believe Old Longshanks would have had any of that! Anyway, to read an article about films concerning various kings and queens, go here.

But where’s King Arthur?????

Schrodinger’s royal marriages?

Anne Boleyn and then Katherine Howard thought they had married Henry VIII. Then he annulled them both, as he did with his first and fourth weddings, such that they were deemed to have been invalid from the start. However, he had these second and fifth Queens executed for treason in that they committed adultery whilst married to him, even whilst maintaining that they were not. Similarly, Henry absolutely insisted that the dispensation he obtained in made his first ceremony with Catalina de Aragon (above right) completely valid.

Perhaps Henry picked up this habit from his father who insisted that the rebel he sent to Tyburn in 1499 was guilty of treason, which could only apply if he was an English subject, whilst calling him “Perkin Warbeck” from the Low Countries?

Erwin Schrodinger (below left) would, of course understand perfectly. “My cat is alive and dead”. “Anne Boleyn and I were validly married and were not.” “”Perkin” was an English subject and a foreigner.

Mugging with Henry VIII

And for your Christmas feast, a mug fit for a King. Or maybe a mug for a mug… You can now wake yourself up with a splash of caffeine whilst gazing at Henry VIII’s portly charm and watching his unfortunate ‘wives’ (due to the marriages being annulled , he technically only had two wives, not six!) vanish from their places behind their lord and master.

Henry would have deemed such a mug a truly magical object–and  no doubt he would also have wished that  he could have ‘vanished’ his unwanted ‘wives’ with equal ease…MUG

When, exactly, was Elizabeth of Lancaster’s first marriage dissolved….?

Elizabeth of Lancaster

A source at the National Archives says that John of Gaunt’s daughter Elizabeth was married to the boy, John Hastings, Earl of Pembroke, on 24th January 1380. She was about 17, he was about 8. She then “disagreed” with the marriage, because of her husband’s youth and inability to consummate the marriage, and the source says that the marriage was dissolved on 24th February 1383. A very specific date.

The source was The Account Rolls of the Household of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster (1340-1399) ([These] were found acting as backing to the Waleys Cartulary [MS. GLY/1139] when this was repaired. They consist of items from various classes of household accounts and were placed haphazardly when employed as backing. Each roll of the cartulary had ten membranes, which were heavily mutilated in their secondary function.):-

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/c36349b9-701c-4cb2-94b3-96329c78ebed (4) Mon. 1-31 [July 1381]. Roll A.7. This “Mentions the Countess of Pembroke. Lancaster’s daughter Elizabeth married John, Earl of Pembroke, on 24 Jan. 1380 and the marriage was dissolved on 24 Feb. 1383.”

John Hastings, Third Earl of Pembroke 

However, on 24th September that same year, 1383, she was still terming herself Countess of Pembroke:

Proof of EofL's continuing use of Pembroke title

So, would she still do this even though the marriage had been ended? In other words, would she remain Countess of Pembroke until she remarried? Or, were proceedings to disagree with and dissolve the marriage commenced in the February of 1383, but not finalised until after the September?

There is a LOT of confusion about the ending of Elizabeth of Lancaster’s first marriage, with talk of passionate seduction, pregnancy, and a shotgun wedding to swiftly hitch her to her seducer. This was Sir John Holand, Richard II’s colourful half-brother, the future Earl of Huntingdon and Duke of Exeter; a man to whom Lady Caroline Lamb’s opinion of Lord Byron could be applied, i.e. that he was “mad, bad and dangerous to know”. He was flambuoyant, passionate and capable of cold-blooded killing, but he was also devastatingly charming. This second marriage took place in Plymouth on 24th July 1386. (24th again?)

JH - WordPress

Sir John Holand being led into tournament

 

It’s always claimed that the annulment of her first marriage had to take place hastily so that she could marry the father of her unborn child. But the dates above suggest she was no longer married to Pembroke when she was seduced by Holand, who was fervently in love with her. And, presumably, she with him.

How did this widespread story of marital infidelity and hasty remarriage come about? Because she was still called the Countess of Pembroke, and assumptions were made that she was still married to Pembroke? Or because the sources I have quoted above are wrong? Should I ignore the dates that contradict the salacious traditional tale of adultery and a “shotgun wedding”?

Being a Ricardian, I am always mistrustful of “traditional” tales….

PS: There is also a very strong suggestion that Sir John Holand was the father of Richard of Conisbrough. father of Richard, 3rd Duke of York…and thus the grandfather of Edward IV and Richard III. Sir John is believed to have had an affair with Richard of Conisbrough’s mother, Isabella, Duchess of York, wife of Edmund of Langley. No one knows for sure, of course, but Edmund of Langley left Richard of Conisbrough out of his will, and it was down to Isabella to do all she could to protect her son. It does indeed smack of Richard of Conisbrough not being York’s offspring. Good Sir John Holand certainly seems to have left his mark on history!

He was reputedly very tall and handsome…might this be why Edward IV was too? Just a thought.

 

 

Robert S.P. Fripp’s “Power of a Woman”

Eleanor of Aquitaine was the daughter of a provincial Duke in France. Twice she married Kings and had many children, although she outlived most of them and several grandchildren, living into her ninth decade, suffering annulment and internal exile. Two of her sons became King of England and, through John “Sansterre”, she is the ancestress of every subsequent monarch.
In this book, Robert Fripp does for Eleanor what Graves did for Claudius, as she dictates her “memoirs” to a younger secretary. Most of us know much less about Eleanor than we would like and this is our opportunity to make amends.

 

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