Eleanor of Aquitaine
Queen of Louis VII of France
1122 – 1204 A.D.
Queen Eleanor succeeded her father, William X., in 1137, in the fine duchy which at that time composed Gascony, Saintonge, and the compté de Poitou. She married the same year Louis VII, king of France, and went with him to the Holy Land. She soon gave him cause for jealousy, from her intimacy with her uncle, Raymond, count of Poitiers, and with Saladia; and after many bitter quarrels they were divorced under pretense of consanguinity in 1152. Six weeks afterwards, Eleanor married Henry II, duke of Normandy, afterwards king of England, to whom she brought in dowry Poitou and Guienne.
Eleanor had four sons and a daughter by her second husband. In 1162, she gave Guinne to her second son, Richard Coeur de Lion, who did homage for it to the king of France. She died in 1204. She was very jealous of her second husband and showed the greatest animosity to all whom she regarded as rivals. She incited her sons to rebel against their father, and was, in consequence, thrown into prison where she was kept for sixteen years.
In her youth she was remarkably beautiful, and in later years of her varied life she showed evidences of a naturally noble disposition. As soon as she was liberated from her prison, which was done by order of her son Richard on his accession to the throne, he placed her at the head of the government. No doubt she bitterly felt the utter neglect she had suffered during her imprisonment; yet she did not, when she obtained power, use it to punish her enemies, but rather devoted herself to deeds of mercy and piety, going from city to city, setting free all persons confined for violating the game laws, which, in the latter part of Henry’s life, were cruelly enforced. Miss Strickland thus closes her interesting biography of this beautiful but unfortunate queen: “Eleanor of Aquitaine is among the very few women who have atoned for an ill-spent youth by a wise and benevolent old age. As a sovereign she ranks among the greatest of female rulers.”
Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence, and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World published by the King-Richardson Co. in 1903.