Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life

Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life

by Alison Weir

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Eleanor of Aquitaine: By the Wrath of God, Queen of England 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 reviews.
AnnieBM More than 1 year ago
Weir does a credible job of achieving her goal of re-evaluating Eleanor of Aquitaine in the light of balanced, contemporary scholarship. The resources available do not have much to say about Eleanor and what has been presented in the past is largely a product of fancy and legend. Weir dispells these views with a balanced account of scholarship and weighing the evidence to present what is known and what may be most likely. The book reads like an informed, textbook-styled biography with an emphasis on the history of the times and other significant figures, such as the Kings of France and England, but is still a fairly captivating read. Despite the emphasis on other figures, Eleanor can been seen amidst these events even though details of her life are missing. Where there are sufficient details, Weir discusses Eleanors' life and actions in context, displaying well the bits of Eleanor's character that can be reasonably detected.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I agree with other reviewers in that there really wasn't much information on Eleanor. There was so little that I really cannot understand why she is the title of this book. It is really a book about the men and times surrounding her life, and even those events could be told in a more interesting manner. The only parts that were appealing were the descriptions of architecture and daily life, however those were quite sparse and left me wanting to know more. There is a lot of listing of names and dates, which become tedious. I read The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Weir and could not put it down, I highly recommend it. But this book was a disappointment, and I had to force myself to finish.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I throughly enjoyed this book. This book was very well-written and well-researched. It portrayed the queen as best it could, considering she lived 700 years ago.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Few individuals have had as much affect on history as Eleanor. The brilliant and indominantable nature of this woman is a wonder to behold, an incredible model for any girl/woman aspiring to leave an indelible and constructive mark with their lives. Eleanor seems at once a Madonna and a Maria Shriver, or a Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina, yet someone highly interested in the quality of life even while aspiring for the brass ring. Eleanor, without even knowing it, may have been for the Renaissance what John the Baptist was for Christianity.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was well sourced and very readable. I found it hard to put down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This biography evaluates Eleanor of Aquitaine's unusual political prominence in an era of female subservience with a balanced view that is neither fawning admiration nor a simple repetition of the many slanders written against her. The author uses the relevant contemporary literature to weave a compelling narrative of a complex life. Eleanor of Aquitaine provides a rich and interesting view of twelfth century Europe. Weir guides the reader through the complexities of feudal allegiances, conflicting interests and constant strife that dominated the political scene.
santhony on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book purports to be a biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine, and in that respect it is deceptive. As the author states several times throughout the work, there is virtually no source material on the subject. How then to fill almost 400 pages on a subject for which there is no reliable history beyond the obvious? First, the author fills the book with general 12th century history and facts. There is every bit as much, if not more written about Henry II, the second husband of Eleanor than there is about Eleanor herself. In truth, the book should have been entitled "12th Century European History." The author writes extensively about the Second Crusade, undertaken by Eleanor's then husband, Louis of France, but has virtually nothing to say about Eleanor's role. Understandable, since there are no sources that speak of it. The book deals primarily with the political and martial dealings between the various Kings, Dukes, Earls and Counts of Europe and England. Second, the author writes generally about the role of women in 12th century Europe and tries to compare and contrast Eleanor's activities in an attempt to paint her as a much more politically savvy and active member of society than most women of the age. Finally, the author takes very flimsy historical information and tries to expand it to fill the historical gaps and flesh out the subject of the "biography". To her credit, she uses this technique very sparingly and avoids wholesale fiction. With respect to the author's writing style, I found it to be very dry and at times, merely a recitation of historical facts running for pages at a time. The plethora of names and titles were at times confusing, a situation that was compounded by the style utilized by the author. We know about Eleanor's family, her titles and estates and and the rough timeline of her marriages, divorce, children and death. Beyond that, with respect to Eleanor herself, we know very little. We do not even have a reliable likeness of her appearance. To sell this work as a "biography" is to give the word a definition with which I am unfamiliar.
meggyweg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was another solid Alison Weir history. I would have liked it more except that I hate, hate, hate Eleanor of Aquitaine. She was a spoiled brat. I don't think I'll read any more books about her; they just make me hate her more. But if you don't dislike her and you like other Weir biographies, you'll like this book.
Clockwork82736 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Once again, Alison Weir produces an enjoyable biography on an already-fascinating personality!
uncultured on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Terribly interesting bio of Eleanor of Aquitaine. We learn about courtly life in France, with its troubadours and amours, go on a horrible Crusade with a lousy French king, and learn that there is really very little that can be definitely said about this woman. Maybe she had an affair with Henry II while married to the king of France, maybe she didn't. Maybe she had an affair with Henry's FATHER, maybe she didn't. Maybe she rode to Jerusalem dressed as an Amazon, maybe she didn't. The problem is that the chroniclers of that era were biased against women to start with, and a strong woman like Eleanor tended to elicit strong feelings on either side of the debate. As queen, she didn't get much mention at all unless she 1) Gave Birth 2) Rebelled Against the King 3) Had an affair. Consequently, Weir tends to focus on those closest to Eleanor, i.e., the men in her life, and fortunately she was not one for hanging around with dullards. Henry II was one of the greatest English kings of all time, and there is no really great bio of him out there, so it was great to read about his constant on-the-go lifestyle (he conquered or married into all of England and most of France, so he had a lot to do). And Eleanor's kids! Richard the Lionhearted, who spent almost his entire rule mucking about in the Holy Land (and perhaps mucking about with his fellow Crusaders). Then there's King John, Worst...King...Ever. His father wanted to make him heir to a kingdom that stretched from the Scottish border to the French Alps, but John felt that betraying his father was much more worthwhile (this tradition of good ideas would continue when he was king and decided he could boss the nobles around. On the plus side it did give us the Magna Carta). Anyway, great read for anyone interested in the era of castles and kings, or who has seen the great 60's movie The Lion in Winter and wondered if Katherine Hepburn, Anthony Hopkins, Peter O'Toole and Timothy Dalton were doing an accurate job.
lauralkeet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the most powerful women in 12th-century Europe. Heiress to a vast region of what is now France, she was first married to Louis VII of France and, later, to Henry II of England. As Queen of England, she founded a long line of monarchs who ruled England and many other European countries for centuries to come. As Alison Weir writes in this biography:There were then, as now, women of strong character who ruled feudal states and kingdoms, as Eleanor did; who made decisions, ran farms and businesses, fought lawsuits, and even, by sheer force of personality, dominated their husbands. ... The fact remained that the social constraints upon women were so rigidly enforced by both Church and state that few women ever thought to question them. Eleanor herself caused ripples in twelfth-century society because she was a spirited woman who was determined to do as she pleased. (p. 4)The unfortunate reality is that most written history is focused on men and their achievements. Weir pieced together evidence from contemporary sources in an attempt to illuminate the life of this "spirited woman," but this book was much more about Eleanor's actions as they related to her husbands and sons, and their quest for dominance of feudal society. Weir portrays Eleanor as strong and intelligent, and the men as violent, power-hungry philanderers. She fails to explain why Eleanor would work so hard to preserve their power. Reading this book increased my knowledge of Henry II, his sons Richard and John, and the constant power-brokering of that age. Eleanor was present throughout, always on the scene and sometimes playing a role in negotiations. But who was she, really? What motivated her? How did she feel about being separated from her children, sometimes for years at a time? I was hoping for more insight to Eleanor as a person, but I suspect there just isn't enough evidence to produce a comprehensive portrait.
mrs.starbucks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
After a very thorough rampage through 80 years Medieval European history, I am as exhausted as Eleanor herself must have surely been at the end of her life. Alison Weir is an excellent scholar and competent writer, though Eleanor of Aquitaine was by no means a lyrical joyride. I would say that I have been summarily disillusioned; most of the book isn't even about Eleanor herself...though this is obviously due to a lack of concrete information and Weir's unwillingness to deal very much in the legends surrounding the time period.Personally, I'm a terrible gossip when it comes to history, and I guarantee that 2 chapters later I won't remember even a quarter of the individuals and dates named. I would have appreciated far more delving into the odd bits and stories, but alas, I can't fault Weir for being a good and honest scholar. I consider myself mainly to be educated, if not exactly entertained.
TheBooknerd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent book, and for several reasons. First off, I covers a particularly interesting family during a particularly interesting time. Whether or not you like Eleanor of Aquitaine, you can't deny she's a key player in European history. Of course, this isn't just Eleanor's story. You'll read all about Henry II and their tumultuous brood of children. Eleanor and Henry are definitely the "it" couple of the 1100s, and their lives are so eventful and intriguing that it puts daytime drama to shame.Another high point is the quality of Weir's writing. Weir present a smooth and well-paced narrative that's packed with information. And that's a point that readers should fully appreciate, since there's relatively little historical evidence depicting Eleanor's life. This book is obviously well-researched, giving a clear portrayal of a complex family. And Weir is as objective as one could hope for, showing the bad and good aspects of Eleanor and her contemporaries. I will definitely read more of Weir's work.
herekittykitty More than 1 year ago
This is a well researched biography about the most talked about and researched woman in western history. Citations and lengthy quotations are included as well as brief discussions of the reliability and veracity of sources. It contains a lot of information about the political, economic and social aspects of 12th century France and England, about the crusades and all the people involved in events of the day. It is very readable for even the most casual reader of history.
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