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Eleanor of Aquitaine: By the Wrath of God, Queen of England Hardcover – 30 Sep 1999

92 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd; 1st Edition edition (30 Sept. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224044249
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224044240
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.6 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 384,214 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alison Weir lives and works in Surrey. Her books include Britain's Royal Families, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Children of England, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry VIII: King and Court, Mary, Queen of Scots and Isabella: She-Wolf of France.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Combining the pace and descriptive quality of a novel with the authority of a text book, Alison Weir's study of the revered and reviled Eleanor of Aquitaine should be valuable to anyone with an interest in medieval European history. Wife of Louis VII of France and subsequently of Henry II of England and mother of Richard the Lionheart, Eleanor played a prominent part in the politics of the 12th century. The author of a number of other books on the medieval period, Alison Weir brings all the colour and ever-present dangers of Eleanor's world to life, filling the text with absorbing background detail and revelatory contemporary anecdotes. She is concerned throughout to make critical analysis of the primary sources, the later myths about Eleanor and other modern biographies. This results in a fresh and thoughtful perspective on the energetic 82 years of life of a determined and ambitious woman living with the sexism, excesses and violence of a society in which the word of a single man could condemn thousands to be put to death. Eleanor of Aquitaine is a vivacious but scholarly book with extensive notes and references appended, giving an objective and rich account of the staunch Eleanor, her feuding family and her complex and unstable world. --Karen Tiley

Review

"Her biography reads like a medieval romance, a marvellous intermingling of fact with legend--fascinating-- splendid." - "Literary Review" "Triumphantly done." - "Sunday Times" "From the Trade Paperback edition."

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 72 people found the following review helpful By I. Curry VINE VOICE on 4 Jan. 2008
Format: Paperback
Some of the most fascinating characters in history hail from the murkier depths of times lacking much documentary sources. Perhaps their interest comes from this patchwork of conflicting sources, or perhaps the temporal distance lends enchantment. It also presents a problem for the biographer, in that the lack of sources makes it difficult to write authoritatively on the subject. If the subject is a mystery then the book can't be much more than conjectures joined up with speculation.

Eleanor of Aquitaine occupies an odd place in such a time. As a ruler and heiress in her own right, and as queen of France and later England, her life is much more richly documented than most of her contemporaries. Her movements, lodgings, nutrition and clothing can be conjured from the surviving accounts. Richer detail comes from monastic accounts, surviving letters and a good deal of conjecture based on related sources.

Weir has chosen a fascinating subject. She was a woman ruler at a time when women's right to rule was far from established, and in many areas banned by Salic Law. She was forthright, independent and had unorthodox views that capture the essence of the troubadour culture that flourished in her Aquitanian provinces.

Eleanor was wife of Louis VII of France, and then Henry II of England. She was mother to Richard the Lion Heart, and of King John. She herself went on crusade, appearing as the Amazonian queen Penthesilea to rally the troops. She lived as everything from Queen to prisoner, and did so over a remarkable 82 years.

As a writer of engaging `popular' history, Weir has been criticised for dumbing down the subject. In my opinion this is ridiculous.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Aug. 2000
Format: Hardcover
I am surprised by some of the criticisms of this book. True, there would appear to be very little source material to give a detailed description of the life and character of the heroine, but the book is so much more than that. Alison Weir is to be greatly complemented for her rigorous refusal to speculate or invent salacious details where no evidence exists. She shows herself, yet again, to be a careful and fair historian. Where there is doubt she openly sets out the competing versions and states her own conclusion. You may not always agree, but at least you can decide for yourself. The true value of this book is that it charts the uneasy and capricious relations between England and Royal France at a (or even "the") key period of the development of both nations as we know them today. The fascination is that Eleanor knew all the key players well, found herself in such wildly differing camps, and was present (even if in the background) at so many key events. It is fair to say that the book might be more accurately titled "England and France during the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine", but that is hardly a substantial criticism. The details of expenditure on Eleanor's personal items are of value in that they show the extent to which she was, or was not, in the King's favour at different times. I would not describe the book as dry. It is factual in parts, but it is a history book and the learning is worn lightly. One remarkable achievement is that you do not lose track of the complex familial relations of the main players. This book has encouraged me to read further about this fascinating era. It is another excellent book from Alison Weir and I would recommend it unhesitatingly to anyone interested in this period.
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51 of 57 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 17 Aug. 2001
Format: Paperback
I was captivated by the title when I first came across it. Eleanor of Aquitane certainly proved to be an exceptionally well-written and captivating book, especially when compared to the mediocre efforts of many of our contemporary writers. Alison Weir succeeds in making a distant epoch come to life in a multidimensional way. She has been criticised, by some, for presenting a rather scanty picture of the queen, yet in this same sparse representation, which stems from limited resources available, lies the crux of the existence of a medieval woman. From the morsels of information available about the life of one of the most remarkable female figures of the early medieval period, we can infer that the medieval reality did not consider women as figures of much consequence. For there to have been even this little written about Eleanor she had to have been a particularly influential player in the male orientated society. Through MS Weir's very objective eyes we catch a fair glimpse of Eleanor's world, the consequences of her intelligence, strength and power. It is an effortless read, well worth the time and money.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paulo de Vissec on 23 Oct. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Alison Weir is here as good as always, when writing about history (non-fiction). And with a fascinating character as Eleanor of Aquitaine, it is still better than usual. It's a well conceived and well executed work, with care evident even in the titles of chapters.

I'm not a historian, but I got the impression that this is a well researched work. Most of the time, when the author does not have precise information, she just states that - or, in fewer occasions, she ventures a guess, but says it is a guess.

She does not treat Eleanor's story apart from the people who lived in her times. She writes a bit about Eleanor's grandfather, her father, her first husband King Louis of France, most of her children, some of her grandchildren. And a lot about Henry II and Richard the Lion Heart. She even gives us brief biographical information about the main chroniclers of the time, whom she used as primary sources, and it's nice to know about them.

There are three good maps, and a number of genealogical tables (although I can't understand why, in this day and age, genealogical tables in books are apparently still facsimiles of originals written by hand, which affects their readability).

At the end of the book, you just hope that Alison Weir will write once more about the life of another major figure of the Middle Ages.

I would even dare to make a suggestion (in case she ever hears about this review): a book by her about the Dukes of Burgundy could be great!
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