Captive Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine

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9780091926212: Captive Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine

It is the year 1152 and a beautiful woman of thirty, attended by only a small armed escort, is riding like the wind southwards through what is now France, leaving behind her crown, her two young daughters and a shattered marriage to Louis of France, who had been more like a monk than a king, and certainly not much of a lover. This woman is Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine, and her sole purpose now is to return to her vast duchy and marry the man she loves, Henry Plantagenet, a man destined for greatness as King of England. Theirs is a union founded on lust which will create a great empire stretching from the wilds of Scotland to the Pyrenees. It will also create the devil's brood of Plantagenets - including Richard Cour de Lion and King John - and the most notoriously vicious marriage in history. The Captive Queen is a novel on the grand scale, an epic subject for Alison Weir. It tells of the making of nations, and of passionate conflicts: between Henry II and Thomas Becket, his closest friend who is murdered in Canterbury Cathedral on his orders; between Eleanor and Henry's formidable mother Matilda; between father and sons, as Henry's children take up arms against him; and finally between Henry and Eleanor herself.

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Review:

Interesting Facts About Eleanor of Aquitaine, from Alison Weir

  • Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204) is arguably the most important and admired female figure in medieval European history.
  • Captive Queen tells the epic and dramatic tale of this strong and remarkable woman who held her own in a male-dominated world.
  • Eleanor was queen first to Louis VII of France and then to Henry II of England.
  • Her lands comprised half of what is now France, making her the greatest heiress in Europe. The transfer of that landed inheritance, first to France and then to England, set the pattern of European diplomacy and warfare for the next four centuries.
  • Her marriage to Henry II of England, which is the focus of Captive Queen, was one of the most passionate and tempestuous in history. Both Eleanor and Henry were larger-than-life, charismatic characters.
  • Eleanor was a true daughter of the south of France, raised in a society in which women were valued more highly than elsewhere, and morals were lax. She grew up imbued with the culture and poetry of the troubadours, and her beauty was famous.
  • Eleanor’s reputation was notorious, in her own lifetime and increasingly thereafter. She was a sensual woman with little regard for the moral precepts of her day, and she had adulterous affairs with several men, including her uncle and her future father-in-law.
  • Many of the romantic or sinister legends that have attached themselves to Eleanor’s name center upon her rival, Henry’s mistress, Rosamund de Clifford. In this novel, Alison Weir has made creative use of those legends.
  • Eleanor bore eleven children—among them Richard the Lion Heart, renowned as the greatest crusader in Christendom, and the notorious King John, who was forced to sign the Magna Carta.
  • The book’s title derives from the fact that Eleanor was a captive in her marriage, loving and hating Henry at the same time. Later on, having dealt him a bitter betrayal, she would become his captive in very truth.
  • Ultimately, Captive Queen is a searing psychological odyssey, an intense exploration of the character and motives of an extraordinary woman.

About the Author:

Alison Weir lives and works in Surrey. Her non-fiction books include The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Children of England, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry VIII: King and Court, Mary, Queen of Scots, Katherine Swynford and Elizabeth of York. Her novels include Innocent Traitor, The Lady Elizabeth and A Dangerous Inheritance.

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