Monday, December 5, 2011

Eleanor of Aquitane, Queen of the English

by Christy English

In my historical novel, To Be Queen: A Novel of the Early Life of Eleanor of Aquitaine, I explore the marriage of Eleanor to the French King, Louis VII. As my novel draws to a close in March of 1152, Eleanor of Aquitaine obtains an annulment and returns to her ancestral lands in Poitou. In history, the story does not end there.

Though cast aside by her first husband, Eleanor had no intention of retiring from the political stage. In May 1152, Henry, Duke of Normandy joined her in her capital of Poitiers and they married in secret.

Henry II, King of England

Henry and Eleanor ruled the combined lands of Normandy, Anjou, Brittany, Aquitaine and Poitou, and once they secured their lands from invasion by her ex-husband, Louis,they turned their eye on to Henry’s ancestral throne of England. Henry’s mother, the Empress Maude, had been denied her right to rule because as a woman she could not rally all the barons of England to her standard. Her young son, Henry, made it his life’s work to re-conquer the lands that his great-grandfather, William the Bastard had taken from the Saxons less than a century before.

Through diplomacy and military strength, Henry forced King Stephen to acknowledge him as his heir. When Stephen died in 1154, Eleanor and Henry set sail from Barfleur in Normandy to reclaim Henry’s throne.

Westminster Abbey in the Modern Day

I can only imagine Henry of Normandy’s sense of triumph as he was crowned King of the English in Westminster Abbey on December 19, 1154. Eleanor of Aquitaine, pregnant with her second son, was crowned at his side, and became a reigning queen for the second time in her life. After years of long planning and hardship, Henry and Eleanor reached their goal. Though the Empress Maude never was crowned Queen in England, her son ruled until his death in 1189, and two of his sons, Richard and John, ruled after him.

Eleanor was vindicated by her marriage to Henry II. Cast aside by Louis VII for never bearing him a son, she went on to give birth to five sons and three daughters for Henry
and for England. She ruled for many years as a partner at her husband’s side. Though their alliance later fell apart, the day they were crowned in Westminster Abbey in 1154 was a triumph for both of them.

Debra, thank you so much for hosting me on your blog.

I would like to offer a signed copy of To Be Queen: A Novel of the Early Life of Eleanor of Aquitaine as a give away, open to the US, Canada, and the UK. Please feel free to visit me and hear more about my obsession with Eleanor of Aquitaine and all things literary on my blog.

Description of To Be Queen

Duchess at fifteen, Eleanor of Aquitaine marries the King of France. But will she find that she must pay too high a price to be queen?

Although Louis VII is enamored of his bride, the newly crowned king is easily manipulated by forces in the Church. Trapped in a loveless marriage, Eleanor fights for her freedom and for the love of her life. In the arms of Henry of Normandy, Eleanor may finally find the passion she longs for, and the means to fulfill her legacy as Queen.

This giveaway has ended, and the winner is Pricilla! Thank you so much for your visit to English Epochs 101!

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