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Eleanor Of Aquitaine: By the Wrath of God, Queen of England Paperback – 10 Jan 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 107 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (10 Jan. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099523558
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099523550
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 29,261 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"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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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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By Roman Clodia TOP 500 REVIEWER on 18 Aug. 2006
Format: Paperback
I didn't know very much about Eleanor apart from her being the mother of Richard I & John and so I really enjoyed this book. It's a good read if you're not familiar with this period as Weir takes the time to explain the cultural and political environment in which the story is taking place. I've studied medieval literature but not history and so this was an excellent 'filler' and interesting to see where myth and literature intersect with known or documented history.

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.
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By Marand TOP 500 REVIEWER on 12 Jan. 2016
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book during a holiday in the Loire Valley - we were staying two or three miles from the Abbey of Fontevraud where Eleanor lived in the latter part of her life, and where she died and is buried. The author, Alison Weir, presents Eleanor's story, and indeed the history of the period, in an accessible way. Eleanor, through her marriages firstly to Louis VII of France, and then Henry II of England, was at the centre of political life in Europe. After having been imprisoned for years by Henry, she was released by her son, Richard the Lionheart (also buried at Fontevraud), when he ascended the English throne and even acted as Regent whilst Richard was participating in the Crusades. Eleanor lived a long life even by modern standards (she was over eighty when she died having outlived all but two of her children, King John of Magna Carta fame and Eleanor of Castile. Eleanor of Aquitaine also, unusually for her times, played a significant role in affairs of state. It is a fascinating and absorbing story, well-written, lively and informative.
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Format: Hardcover
A good and thoroughly researched biography. The author, however, sometimes displays unease with the period and the lack of extant and reliable written sources. Both style and approach, unfortunately, lack some of the confidence with which the author has treated subsequent periods of medieval English history.
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.
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