Eleanor of Aquitaine

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Eleanor of Aquitaine

(ăkwĭtān`, ăk`wĭtān), 1122?–1204, queen consort first of Louis VIILouis VII
(Louis the Young), c.1120–1180, king of France (1137–80), son and successor of King Louis VI. Before his accession he married Eleanor of Aquitaine.
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 of France and then of Henry IIHenry II,
1133–89, king of England (1154–89), son of Matilda, queen of England, and Geoffrey IV, count of Anjou. He was the founder of the Angevin, or Plantagenet, line in England and one of the ablest and most remarkable of the English kings.
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 of England. Daughter and heiress of William X, duke of Aquitaine, she married Louis in 1137 shortly before his accession to the throne. She accompanied him on the Second Crusade (1147–49). Eleanor bore Louis two daughters, but in 1152 their marriage was annulled. Soon afterward Eleanor married Henry, duke of Normandy and count of Anjou, uniting her vast possessions with those of her husband. Louis VII feared this powerful combination, and when Henry ascended the English throne in 1154, the stage was set for a long struggle between the English and French kings. Eleanor bore Henry three daughters and five sons, and two of the latter, Richard IRichard I,
 Richard Cœur de Lion
, or Richard Lion-Heart,
1157–99, king of England (1189–99); third son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine.
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 and JohnJohn,
1167–1216, king of England (1199–1216), son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Early Life

The king's youngest son, John was left out of Henry's original division of territory among his sons and was nicknamed John Lackland.
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, became kings of England. Because of Henry's infidelities, especially his relationship with RosamondRosamond
(Rosamond Clifford), d. 1176, mistress of Henry II of England. She was not openly acknowledged by the king until 1174, after he had imprisoned his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine.
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, Eleanor's relations with her husband grew strained, and in 1170 she established a court of her own at Poitiers. She supported her sons in their unsuccessful revolt against Henry in 1173 and was held in confinement by Henry until 1185. Her efforts helped Richard secure the throne in 1189. While Richard was on the Third Crusade and later held captive in Europe (1190–94), Eleanor was active in forestalling the plots against him by his brother John and in collecting the ransom for his release. She brought about a reconciliation between the two brothers, and on Richard's death in 1199 she supported John's claims to the throne over those of Arthur IArthur I,
1187–1203?, duke of Brittany (1196–1203?), son of Geoffrey, fourth son of Henry II of England and Constance, heiress of Brittany. Arthur, a posthumous child, was proclaimed duke in 1196, and an invasion by his uncle King Richard I of England was repulsed
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 of Brittany. Eleanor's court at Poitiers was the scene of much artistic activity and was noted for its cultivation of courtly manners and the concept of courtly love. She was the patroness of such literary figures as Wace, Benoît de Sainte-More, and Chrétien de Troyes. In literature Eleanor has appeared as the jealous murderess of the "fair Rosamond," but she was apparently innocent of this crime. She was an able and strong-minded woman.


See biographies by M. Meade (1980), D. Seward (1986), Z. Kaplan (1987), and A. Weir (2000).

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Eleanor of Aquitaine

?1122--1204, queen of France (1137--52) by her marriage to Louis VII and queen of England (1154--89) by her marriage to Henry II; mother of the English kings Richard I and John
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005