Much has been written about the historical life of Eleanor of Aquitane. Her life, Undoubtedly reads like legend, at least in part because it is. It is fairly safe to say that the world had never seen a woman like Eleanor of Aquitane, and it is doubtful that there has been a woman since who could rival her power, intelligence, beauty and sheer force of will.
Like many other women of her time Eleanor came from a long line of noble and royal blood. Her lineage can be traced back to the earliest kings of both England and France.(follow link to take a look at Eleanor’s very long family tree http://www.my-ged.com/db/page/scokin/12251) Her father William X was the son of France’s first troubadour, William IX and Eleanor’s early life was saturated with culture and learning. The court of her father and grandfather was thought to be the main culture center of the time. At age 15, with her father’s passing, Eleanor became the sole heiress and ruler of the largest duchy in France – Aquitane. Eleanor was then betrothed to Louis VII of France in order to unite their vast territories. In fifteen years however, Eleanor’s marriage and queenship were over. The pope on the pretext of close kinship ties annulled her unhappy marriage to Louis. At age 30 Eleanor had given up her throne and her daughters and returned to Aquitane to rule. Within a few years Eleanor was married to Henry Plantengent, the Duke of Normandy and ruler of the second most powerful duchy in France (second to her own Aquitane). In 1154 Henry was crowned King of England and Eleanor was now Queen of England, duchess of Aquitane and duchess of Normandy. Eleanor and Henry had eight children together, including Richard the Lionheart and John. In 1173, afte...
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... paradigm of sexual empowerment. This empowerment comes in terms of both sexual freedom and gender freedom. Eleanor’s personal family history and her encounters with serious intellectualism as well as serious sexuality at an early age perhaps introduced her to the idea that sex and power were intimately woven together. As such she was raised in world which empowered her and let her loose on a world that demanded her submission. The result was that Eleanor realized part of women’s power lay not just in marrying well, but in embracing and controlling their sexuality. This in turn meant an early redefinition of where a woman’s place was. For Eleanor at least that was not simply in her husband’s bed.
1. Main internet sources cited with a link in the paper
2. Weir Alison, Eleanor of Aquitane; a Life ; Ballantine Publishing, 1999, New York. Pgs 1-37
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