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Eleanor: April Queen of Aquitaine Paperback – 20 Jan 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press Ltd; New Ed edition (20 Jan. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0750932902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0750932905
  • Product Dimensions: 12.2 x 19.6 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 896,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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From the Author

Previous biographies of Eleanor have presented her as a shadowy, unscrupulous French duchess on the make. This is because medieval historians relied until recently on the misogynistic celibate chroniclers, who relished unsubstantiated sexual scandal as a way of diminishing a powerful woman.
My study of new sources, including contemporary troubadour poetry written in Occitan – Eleanor’s first language – reveals a very different person. In the first place, she wasn’t French. Secondly, she was effectively the queen of her own Mediterranean people before marrying Louis VII and England’s Henry I.
Why did she go on the Second Crusade? Why did she have eleven children? Why did she risk everything to rebel against Henry and pay the price of fifteen years’ deprivation of liberty? What happened when her son Richard the Lionheart died? These and many other questions are answered for the first time. And in the process, one of English history’s great dilemmas is resolved: Henry’s appointment of his chancellor Becket as archbishop of Canterbury and Becket’s murder.
Why do I call her the April Queen? You have to read the book to find out! --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Douglas Boyd is a linguist, novelist, screenwriter and writer of non-fiction. After working for the rank Organisation negotiating film rights, he began work at the BBC, where he worked as an administrator, then an Assistant Producer of Outside Broadcasts, and finally as a Producer/Director, based in Manchester, where he made three series of historical documentaries as well as other programmes.

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By John Oddie on 21 Nov. 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For someone seeking a readable guide to the period and its dramatis personae I thoroughly recommend this book.
Not being an expert I cannot comment authoritatively on its accuracy but it appears well researched - it's certainly well written.
What's more, the author has the courage to suggest adventurous meta-strategies where he feels these are needed to explain enduring mysteries of the period.
My one criticism is that Eleanor consistently emerges as the virtuous Marian heroine, while her sons and husbands are the permanent bounders and cads of the piece. For all I know this may be true, but I wonder if, just possibly, in seeking to redress the various calumnies Eleanor has suffered over the last 800 years the author has gone a little too far the other way.
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By C. Ball TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 2 Oct. 2014
Format: Paperback
Few female personalities dominate medieval history in the way that Eleanor of Aquitaine does. History is so utterly dominated by men, from kings and princes to bishops, soldiers, merchants, that to encounter an individual like Eleanor, whose influence is still being felt to this day, is beyond refreshing. In an era when noblewomen were little more than pawns to their families' ambitions and political manoeuvring, Eleanor stands out as a truly remarkable figure, no less subject to the actions of the men in her life than any other of her sex, but able in the end to rise above it and exercise real power in her own right.

And what a life she led! Queen of France, Queen of England, Duchess of Aquitaine, mother of Richard the Lionheart and Bad King John. Wife, mother, grandmother, crusader, rebel, regent, prisoner - the list of roles she played throughout her long life goes on. And an extraordinarily long life it was for a medieval woman: Eleanor lived to be 82 in a time when the average life expectancy for a woman was little more than 30. By the time of her death she had become a legend in her own lifetime, wielding influence and power almost unique for a woman in Western European history.

Douglas Boyd's biography contributes little new to the field of study of Eleanor of Aquitaine - at this remove in history it would be almost impossible for any real new information to come to light - but he writes well and the narrative clips along as a fair pace. He has some interesting new conclusions about why Henry made Becket Archbishop of Canterbury and how it fitted into Henry's ambitious plans for control of the European continent, which seem plausible enough albeit little more than informed speculation. But it's any enjoyable read and one I'd recommend as an introductory text to Eleanor of Aquitaine and her time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hisame on 25 Feb. 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What makes this book on Eleanor so good is rather than be defeated by the fact that we don't know what Eleanor looked like the author, who lives in the region, did a bit of detective work and found some stone heads and statues that could well be Eleanor and goes into detail about it at the end chapter.

I have taken away a star as he refers to her as the April Queen and says he wants to describe the world, (sights and smells), around Eleanor, but only does it in the first half of the book and not the second which I found disapointing.
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Amazon.com: 1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Better than Fiction 5 July 2011
By Road-trip Rick - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a page-turner the equal of anything from Clancy or Grissom, proving once again that history is more fascinating than fiction. Boyd brings life to the historical figures and weaves a great story. One can hardly imagine that one woman could be both the Queen of France and the Queen of England, but here she is. Amazingly her influence is still being felt in Western culture. Great book!
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