Dominating her own twelfth century, famous for her beauty and generosity, Eleanor
of Aquitaine was queen to Louis VII of France and then Henry II of England.
Worshipped by troubadours, she had an uneasy relationship with her husbands, scheming
against King Henry, who then kept her in prison for fifteen years. Emerging at his
death to become regent for her son Richard I, she ordered the release of prisoners
throughout England, announcing, ‘From my own experience, prisons are hateful to men
and being released from them is a most delightful refreshment to the spirit.’ She
also patronized the great abbey of nuns at Fontevrault, as a refuge for battered
wives of brutal.
Today her glamour, her patronage of the poets and her throwing off the constraints
which shackled the women of her day are almost forgotten, as are her gifts as politician
and ruler. This book reconciles the paradoxes in the formidable personality of ‘a
monstrous injurer of heaven and earth’, who was loved and admired by so many.