Title: Captive Queen, A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine
Author: Alison Weir
Genre: Historical Fiction
Book Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program
And who better to snag a wealthy heiress than a real, live Prince? The heir to the throne of France married Eleanor just a scant three months after she inherited her lands and a few days later, her father-in-law obligingly passed away, leaving Louis and Eleanor the new King and Queen of France.
Had Eleanor's story ended right there, she still would have been a fascinating historical figure. As fate would have it, though, this was just the tip of the iceberg. Eleanor would go on join the Second Crusade where she not only managed to royally piss off her husband by her independent ways but also embroil herself in scandal when rumors of an affair between Eleanor and her uncle Raymond surfaced (never substantiated, by the by).
Although she had two daughters with Louis VII, the marriage wasn't meant to last. Eleanor petitioned for an annulment, eventually granted by the Pope and six weeks later, she would marry the man destined to become King Henry II of England, making Eleanor the only woman to have worn both the crowns of England and France.
Henry and Eleanor would go on to have a passel of kids (who themselves would be known to history as The Devil's Brood), but it would be a mistake to write Eleanor off as the happy housewife at this point. Their tumultuous marriage would result in Henry tossing Eleanor in prison for sixteen (!) years for siding with her sons in their conflicts with their father. When Henry kicked the bucket in 1189, their son Richard III would ascend the throne and finally release his mother from prison. While Richard promptly departed on the Third Crusade, it was Eleanor who ruled over England in his absence.
At the age of 77 she would be abducted and held for ransom while traveling through France. She negotiated her own release and continued her journey through the Pyrenees Mountains to Castille to select a bride for the latest heir to the French throne. It wasn't until after the death of Richard I and the ascension of her youngest son, John, to the English throne that Eleanor finally took the veil and retired to a nunnery. She died in 1204 having outlived two husbands and all but two of her children. A remarkable woman who lived a remarkable life.
Eleanor's effigy. Any woman who reposes like this with a book is after our own heart.
"Well, I'll not let him best me again!" he vowed, and climbed in [bed] beside her. "But let us not waste time on Thomas. I came here for another purpose." [Insert yet another sex scene here]
Henry II to Eleanor of Aquitaine
"Who is that man?" Geoffrey asked.
"He is a poor vagrant," Henry explained.
"Unfortunately, he was married to the sister of that awful Thibaut, Count of Blois, who tried to abduct me, remember?"
Eleanor of Aquitaine to her husband Henry II, of England
"When did this come on?" she asked, her voice abrupt with terror.
"An hour ago, lady," Alice, William's nurse, replied. There were tears of distress-and fear-in her eyes. "Young ones of that age - he's not yet three - take ill quickly; they're up and down like windmills."