Eleanor Of Aquitaine: By the Wrath of God, Queen of England Paperback – 10 Jan 2008
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Her biography reads like a medieval romance, a marvellous intermingling of fact with legend...fascinating...splendid" (Literary Review)
"Weir approaches Eleanor's story with an objective eye and a mass of primary and secondary source material. The result is as vivid as it is informative" (The Times)
"Sensible and eminently readable" (Times Literary Supplement)
"When you finish the book you feel you have been put painlessly (but not necessarily without tears) in possession of the facts of this extraordinary, indefatigable woman, her sufferings and triumphs" (Bevis Hillier Spectator, Books of the Year)
"Triumphantly done" (Sunday Times)
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Having said that, my gut feel is that the history is probably biased and clearly not objective. But I guess whether that's a problem or not depends on why you're reading the book: if it's for a 'historical' take then this probably isn't for you, or it should at least be supplemented with something more academic. If, like me, you're looking for an entertaining read that fills in some of the gaps in your knowledge, then I can fully recommend this.
The result is a work which can be too general and pedantic in its treatment of the socio-ecomonic conditions of 12th Century Europe and often looses sight of its central subject. However, it does offer many insights into the complicated politics of the era and the forces which motivated Eleanor, achieving a synthesis of the overly simplistic pictures of Eleanor as either 'evil witch' or 'courtly icon'. A sober account of both the life and times of an unique, immensely important and successful player on the political stage of the known world.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent book, factual and good story weaving.
Learnt a lot about English French early history,
Excellent photos of tomb effigies at end of book.
The introduction is far too long, this is my wifes responsePublished 4 months ago by theo mountford
Hugely entertaining and very informative. The author admits she has had to deal with a paucity of primary-source material about Eleanor specifically but she wrings everything out... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Bob
Eleanor of Aquitaine is a fascinating and remarkable woman who lived in the medieval ages. Alison Weir brought her to life and as well as telling her story, she explained how her... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Henrietta Grant
Ireally loved this historical book. Although some parts were a little difficult to really grasp, as
many of the places covered in the book are in France. Read more
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