Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life

Eleanor of Aquitaine A Life Renowned in her time for being the most beautiful woman in Europe the wife of two kings and mother of three Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the great heroines of the Middle Ages At a time when women

  • Title: Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life
  • Author: Alison Weir
  • ISBN: 9780345434876
  • Page: 375
  • Format: Paperback
  • Renowned in her time for being the most beautiful woman in Europe, the wife of two kings and mother of three, Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the great heroines of the Middle Ages At a time when women were regarded as little than chattel, Eleanor managed to defy convention as she exercised power in the political sphere and crucial influence over her husbands and sonsRenowned in her time for being the most beautiful woman in Europe, the wife of two kings and mother of three, Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the great heroines of the Middle Ages At a time when women were regarded as little than chattel, Eleanor managed to defy convention as she exercised power in the political sphere and crucial influence over her husbands and sons In this beautifully written biography, Alison Weir paints a vibrant portrait of this truly exceptional woman, and provides new insights into her intimate world Eleanor of Aquitaine lived a long life of many contrasts, of splendor and desolation, power and peril, and in this stunning narrative, Weir captures the woman and the queen in all her glory With astonishing historic detail, mesmerizing pageantry, and irresistible accounts of royal scandal and intrigue, she recreates not only a remarkable personality but a magnificent past era.

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    About " Alison Weir "

  • Alison Weir

    Librarian Note There is than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.Alison Weir born 1951 is a British writer of history books for the general public, mostly in the form of biographies about British kings and queens She currently lives in Surrey, England, with her two children.Before becoming an author, Weir worked as a teacher of children with special needs She received her formal training in history at teacher training college.


  • Despite the title and the author's stated ambition to write a balanced account of Eleanor - neither on the side lines nor a romantic heroine - this book is best read as a friendly, accessible history of the early Plantagenets. Something to read if you've enjoyed The Lion in Winter and fancy knowing a bit more about that quarrelsome, competitive family. Sadly Eleanor remains definitely on the sidelines. Weir doesn't discuss the source material, so as a reader you can't know if this was her choice [...]

  • I've been curious about the historical figure of Eleanor of Aquitaine for a long time. Finally, through Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life I was able to sate my eagerness to know what kind of life this woman, that was the Duchess of Aquitaine in her own right and Queen of both France and England, lived. One thing for sure, it wasn't an easy life. She had difficult husbands, but compensated somewhat through a constant struggle for power. We could say that she was fairly successful, since she lived in a [...]

  • Alison Weir spends a lot of time in this book discusses common legends and misconceptions surrounding Eleanor, which was interesting for me because I hadn't heard any of them before. I really wasn't that familiar with Eleanor of Aquitaine before reading this - mostly I just knew that she went on crusade once, was Richard the Lionheart's mother, and was played by Katherine Hepburn in The Lion in Winter. From these three bits of information, we can at least deduce that she was kind of a badass.Hav [...]

  • I've had a life-long and abiding interest in Eleanor of Aquitaine ever since I read a biography of her when I was 10 years old. I never realized, though, how little I actually knew about the Plantagenetsor how wrong what little I knew wasuntil I read Weir's book.My only complaint about this book has less to do with Weir's impeccable scholarship and gift for narrative than it does with the scant record left behind by women, even notable women like Eleanor. (As an aside, it seems like a vast under [...]

  • A scholarly but lightly-written book on late 12th Century European politics, as told through the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Eleanor comes across as a remarkable woman, extremely strong-willed and independent. She originally married the King of France, and even joined him on a Crusade, then abandoned him for the King of England. Later, through her sons - Richard the Lionheart was her favorite - she fostered rebellions against the English King in his French territories. When the rebellions ende [...]

  • I read this book in hardcover when it first came out before giving it to a friend (sorry Amy). At the time I seem to remember Weir saying in the introduction that it was more of a struggle to write this book than her Tudor histories due to the comparative lack and nature of sources (she relied chiefly on contemporary chroniclers, the richer biographical data of letters, diaries, etc no longer existing). Consequently I felt it was more of a struggle to read.Not this time. I re-read the introducti [...]

  • This is another in Alison Weir’s series of historical biographical works. As always, the book is well-written with much historical detail coming from each page. As with some of her other works (such as “Katherine Swynford”), she takes a less than complete record of the person about whom she is writing and creates a plausible rendering of that person’s life. She notes where evidence is slim and makes cautious suggestions as to what might have happened during periods of time with little re [...]

  • Once again Alison Weir has produced another wonderful and exciting biography. In this book on Eleanor of Aquitaine she has told the story of this most interesting person in a manner that had me glued to the pages. I must state that I have not previously read any books on this subject, quite a few on Richard I but nothing on his mother. I usually enjoy military history but this was an excellent story, well researched and well presented with heaps of plots, fighting and treachery. The story may we [...]

  • Alison Weir always gets at least four stars for every book I read of hers. Marks out of ten for this one, would be nine. Alison writes with all the authority and passion of the wildest beast that ever spurred a stirrup, galloping through the Angevin empire. Her subject, 'Eleanor of Aquitaine', is lifted from the mists and myths of eight hundred years. Her biography is also partly eclipsed as circumstance of the paternal world of the royal courts of Europe in the Middle Ages. Even so, the image i [...]

  • Alison Weir's biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine is thorough and well-researched, from birth to death. There's a lot of dates and names, and Weir's style doesn't really make that kind of detail absorbing, but there's plenty to interest a patient reader. My chief criticism is that Weir presents this as a complete portrait of Eleanor, commenting that previous accounts of her life rely too heavily on the actions of her husbands and sons, but Weir herself falls into that same pitfall. Whole chapters [...]

  • I do think it is a good book, and good history. But it is not a biography of Eleanor. There have been numerous comments that the problems with the book revolve around there just not being enough direct material available to do a biography, and they're entirely justified. Large sections of the book go by with notes of 'Eleanor does not appear in any of the chronicles of this period'.Worse, from a biography point of view, there are few real conclusions or statements of what Eleanor was like. I thi [...]

  • This one was not as easy for me to get through as The Princes in the Tower, but I still enjoyed it. The reason it reads a little slower is just because of the exhaustive notes and the fact that she spends a lot more time on analysis of sources here. Which makes it feel more authoritative, but also a bit more like a textbook. However, Eleanor's life was sexy and interesting enough on its own. It really doesn't need that much help to be a page turner. I finished it and really liked it. Recommended [...]

  • As if "Timeline" hadn't convinced me enough, life in the Middle Ages was damn hard! This biography was not so much about Eleanor of Aquitaine as about the events and the men that governed her life: feudal wars, countless treaties made and broken, provences switching hands, marriages made and then annulled because of "consanguinity," kings and bishops being crowned and excommunicated, and women being sold in marriage during their early years (earliest was three?) to make good on those treaties. N [...]

  • A historical, non-fiction accounting of Eleanor of Aquitaine, wife of two kings (France's King Louis VII and England's King Henry II) and mother of three kings (England's Young King Henry, King Richard I and King John). She was born in 1122 and died at the age of 82.quite a phenomenal life span for that time period. Her influence, direct and indirect, helped to shape the history of France, England and quite a bit of the European continent. Eleanor's descendants include Kings and Queens of severa [...]

  • There are not many important women of the Middle Ages, but Eleanor of Aquitaine has to be the most prominent and important: wife to King Louis VII of France and King Henry II of Britain and Aquitaine, mother of King Richard the Lionheart and King John of Magna Carta fame.Quite a few biographies have been written over the years of Eleanor of Aquitaine, but there has never been one so adherent to primary and secondary sources, to the extent that the scenes depicted veritably come to life before yo [...]

  • Interesting, and probably really 3.5 stars. In part it is a history of Eleanor's times, but since she did much to make those times what they were, that didn't bother me.

  • Some thoughts now that I've finished:- I wish there had been more Eleanor in this book. She kind of made more cameo appearances in this book about her own life, rather than being the star. I'm not sure how much to fault Alison Weir for this, as I've enjoyed other biographies by her that I've read and this is really the first one I've been lukewarm on. And while it's true that this is the first Eleanor of Aquitaine biography I've read so there may be better ones, it's also true that overall there [...]

  • It’s probably not a good idea to approach a book of medieval history with high entertainment expectations. Life in twelfth-century Europe? A grim, relentless grind of war, disease, famine (or food so bad famine’s almost preferable) and unquestioning obedience to God, king, overlord, husband—even for the Queen of England and duchess of what constitutes most of modern-day France.So my attitude going into Eleanor of Aquitaine—dread, fortified by strong coffee—was just about right. And wou [...]

  • This is a very well researched narrative on the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Unlike other women of her era, she controlled property, was able to retain it and, therefore, was a participant in and not a bystander to events. The nuns of Fontevrault extol the "brilliance" of the "royal progeny" with which she "illuminated the world". There were no newspapers then, and being cloistered, they had only Eleanor's word on this. While she is the mother of 2 kings (3 if the "Younger King" counts), these [...]

  • Weir faces some interesting challenges as a historian here: sifting reliable sources about Eleanor from apocryphal stories and putting together a coherent picture of the powerful queen from the traces left in chronicles about the men she influenced. What emerges is a remarkably clear and compelling story of an intelligent and capable woman who married two kings, birthed ten children, marched in two Crusades, ran kingdoms in her husbands' and sons' absences, incited her sons to rebellion, argued [...]

  • As with most any of the biographies Alison Weir writes, it is well researched history of times when not so much is available, but more can be teased from newly discovered sources. She does make some interpretations and extrapolations, but always logical ones based from the data she researches. Extrapolations intended to make the place and culture of the times more clear to us. She also always writes entertainingly and gives you a sense of the subject and their world.

  • When I was at school, I was under the impression that history was dreadfully boring and stuffy and loathed most of my lessons. However, having since been bitten by the history bug thanks to watching Horrible Histories and becoming completely obsessed with Hilary Mantel's Thomas Cromwell, I now lay all of the blame for that firmly at the feet of my teacher, who must have been completely inept to have made our history sound so dreary. I've now decided to embark on a bit of an odyssey through as mu [...]

  • Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of history’s most formidable women, so inevitably many have had axes to grind regarding her, whether about the immorality and awfulness of her terrible acts and attitudes, or about the ahead-of-her-time awesomeness indicated by those exact same acts and attitudes. And then of course you have the school of historians desperate to prove that everyone throughout history has been just as dull as themselves, and anything interesting must have been made up. Weir tries to [...]

  • For saying this was a biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine, this book had surprisingly little information on the Queen herself. Instead, it read as a documentation of the actions of her various husbands, sons and, at one point, Thomas Beckett. I understand the need to contextualize the period and Eleanor's position within it but I felt like I rather lost sight of Eleanor at some points. For instance, a detailed analysis of Beckett's and Henry's relationship was underpinned by the conclusion that th [...]

  • I selected this book as a biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine, it is almost 500 pages, so I expected to learn a lot about the fascinating life of this famous queen. Unfortunately, not many reliable contemporary sources that record the protagonist life are available to us, and in consequence, my expectations had to be readjusted. Even in this book, Eleanor remains a secondary figure. Many chapters are dedicated to the lives of the queen spouses (King Luis VII of France, Henry II of England), her fa [...]

  • I was torn between giving this 3 or 4 stars, as it was really a 3.5. I was inclined to go for 3, but I listened to it as an audiobook, so I'm giving it a bit of a boost. There were large passages that simply lost my attention, which I might have had an easier time with if I were reading it in print. I understand that in a historical biography, especially of a woman, you're going to get a lot of information about the other people in her life (especially the men). However, I've read other historic [...]

  • I arrived at this volume rather randomly, and picked it up to read likewise, being familiar with the name Eleanor of Aquitaine and being aware that it was evocative of something, but I couldn't really remember what. About halfway through, I realised I was thinking primarily of a childhood Christmas viewing of The Lion In Winter, so yay for nostalgia. Anyway, Eleanor's story puts her dead centre at the pulsing heart of the formation of Europe, for all that as a person she ends up sidelined a lot. [...]

  • I'm two chapters into this book, and I've decided to bail out. This book is almost a textbook on France in the 12th century. The author, in spite of a understandable feminist view of Eleanor, was objective and not necessarily sympathetic to Eleanor. Eleanor was known to play politics, and lovers. She actually got divorced (practically unheard of in the 12th century) and remarried King Henry II of England. Pretty good hook. Unfortunately, the book is not very compelling. Page after page brings a [...]

  • I want a bumper sticker that says "I heart Alison Weir." She, without a doubt, is one of my favorite biographers because I can trust her completely. She does not rely of hearsay or legend, but searches through the contemporary writings of her subject and their peers to worm out the truth. Where there is no definitive answer, she gives her readers her best educated guess, but always reminds us that it is merely a guess. In this biography, I learned more about the fascinating Eleanor of Aquitaine [...]

  • Updated review as if 4-27-17:I'm finding more and more to be skeptical of this biography. There was a time when I didn't question much that Weir wrote, but now that I'm writing my own book about Eleanor and reading through newer biographies with new material, I question where some of Weir's information came from, as there are many things not cited. It's kind of disappointing when this kind of thing happens.++++++++++++As usual, Weir does an excellent job using all sources available to bring new [...]

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