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Dear America Wiki
Not to be confused with Eleanor Rhys Davies.
The majority of the following article contains the fictional portrayal of one or more historical figures. Details in this article may differ from real world facts. For more information on the historical figure(s), consult the links provided within or at the bottom of the article.

"The road to Compostela is crowded with travelers. They camp by the river, then leave the next morning before sunrise. I was surprised to see women making this long journey, too, many of them barefoot. The sight of them fills me with loneliness. If I were not heiress of Aquitaine, I could be walking with them."

Eleanor of Aquitaine (c. 1122 – April 1, 1204) was the Duchess of Aquitaine. She was the eldest child of Duke William X and Eleanor de Chatelleràult. Eleanor became her father's heir after the death of her younger brother, William Aigret. In 1137, she inherited her father's lands following his death. Through her marriages to Louis VII and Henry II, Eleanor was Queen of France and England.


Early life[]

Eleanor was born around 1122.[2] The exact date was uncertain though she tended to celebrate her birthday during the summer.[5] Her parents were William X and Eleanor de Chatelleràult. William X, being Duke of Aquitaine, was a powerful noble. Eleanor also had two younger siblings, Petronilla and William Aigret.

When Eleanor was eight-years-old, her mother died suddenly of an illness. Eleanor's younger brother died the same year after falling off a cliff.[6] After their deaths, William X became even more hot-tempered and started having problems with the church.

1136 – 1137[]

In April 1136, while her father was away in Parthenay, Eleanor heard word of him agreeing to recognize Pope Innocent as the true pope. She felt hopeful that her father's conflicts with the church had ended. Soon after, William announced his engagement to Emma of Cognac. Eleanor worried about having a stepmother and was secretly relieved when her father's enemy the Count of Angoulême kidnapped Emma to be his own bride. William, choosing not to retaliate, brought Eleanor and Petronilla on his ducal progress. At Talmont, he was invited by Count Geoffrey of Anjou to help him invade Normandy. Eleanor wished to accompany him, but her father said it would be "too dangerous."

Eleanor and Petronilla remained at Talmont while her father went to Normandy. Her confidante, "Madame," informed Eleanor of rumors concerning the castle's caretaker, Baron of Lezay. When she and Petronilla were nearly kidnapped, Eleanor suspected Lezay but he was never caught. Her father returned in August, feeling remorseful about the invasion. William decided to go on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Due to the journey being dangerous, he made preparations for Eleanor to succeed him if he died along the way. William delayed the pilgrimage until after winter. He allowed Eleanor and Petronilla accompany him as far as Bordeaux, where Archbishop Geoffrey du Loroux was put in charge of them.

In May 1137, news reached Bordeaux of William dying on Good Friday just after reaching Santiago de Compostela. Eleanor, now Duchess of Aquitaine, was almost immediately engaged to the King of France's son, Louis VII. He arrived in Bordeaux in mid-July and they were wed on July 25. The young couple took precautions to avoid her father's enemies on their way to Poitiers. Petronilla and many of Eleanor's ladies-in-waiting accompanied her. Louis headed to Talmont, where Lezay was attempting to seize the castle. He was successful and returned to Eleanor in Poitiers. There they learned that they were now King and Queen of France, following his father's death earlier in the month.

Later life[]

Life in Paris was "difficult" for the fifteen-year-old Eleanor. She greatly missed the merrymaking of Aquitaine. Petronilla remained her "closest companion." Her marriage to Louis was not happy, but Eleanor's hopes were revived when he agreed to lead a crusade. She insisted on accompanying him on the journey, which lasted two and a half years. Unfortunately, it was disaster and only "further eroded" their marriage. Eleanor obtained an annulment when they returned home. Louis kept their two daughters, Marie and Alix. In 1152, Eleanor married Henry of Anjou at the age of thirty. Henry was later crowned King of England as Henry II. The pair had eight children together.

Eleanor's and Henry's first child William died at age two. The pair had four other sons, Henry, Richard, Geoffrey, and John. Each son plotted against their father and, for her involvement in these "intrigues," Eleanor was imprisoned. After her husband died, Richard became king and Eleanor was freed at sixty-seven. She later fought for her son John's claim to the throne after Richard's death. At eighty, she travelled to her homeland to stop the French from defeating John. Her later years are unknown, but some accounts say she was consecrated as a nun in 1202 and died two years later at the Abbey of Fontevrault. She was entombed there beside her husband Henry and beloved son Richard.

Physical appearance[]

Eleanor and Petronilla were similar in appearance, both having long hair which they braided.[7] Both girls were noted for their beauty, for which they often received stares from men. Eleanor, having a bit of vanity, liked dressing in bright colors and wearing jewels that caught the attention of others.

Personality and traits[]

Being a free spirit, Eleanor loved being outside, running through grass, wading in streams, and walking along the beach. She often went against her Grandmère's wishes as she expected her to always behave in a ladylike manner. However, if it concerned her safety, she tried her best to listen to Grandmère. Eleanor enjoyed parties, dancing, music, and poetry, though she also liked being alone to read or stare out a window. She was literate, which was rare for women at the time. Eleanor spoke the French dialect, langue d'oc, and also knew some Latin from her studies.

Family tree[]

The Capet-Plantagenet Family Tree[2][8]
Louis Capet VI
Geoffrey Plantagenet of Anjou
William X
Eleanor de Chatelleràult
(1) ♚Louis Capet VII
(2) ♛Henry II
(b. 1125)
Ralph of Vermandois
(b. 1115)
William Aigret
Richard I
John I
♛ - King of England
♚ - King of France

Behind the scenes[]


In chronological order:


See also[]

Further reading[]