Eleanor of Aquitaine - Wikipedia
The Early Years of Henry II & Eleanor of Aquitaine The question mark that surrounds Henry and Eleanor's marriage (well, actually there are as many men did in the 12th century – indeed, he often sought Matilda's advice. (12) She also urged her husband to take more notice of her advice rather than Eleanor of Aquitaine also upset Pope Innocent II when she and her husband . According to Henry of Huntingdon, the marriage of Henry and Eleanor "was the. The marriage took place in Poitiers, but within two years the pair were crowned King and Queen Painting of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II.
Crusade[ edit ] Eleanor of Aquitaine also formally took up the cross symbolic of the Second Crusade during a sermon preached by Bernard of Clairvaux.
In addition, she had been corresponding with her uncle Raymondprince of the Crusader kingdom of Antiochwho was seeking further protection from the French crown against the Saracens. Eleanor recruited some of her royal ladies-in-waiting for the campaign as well as non-noble Aquitainian vassals. She insisted on taking part in the Crusades as the feudal leader of the soldiers from her duchy. The story that she and her ladies dressed as Amazons is disputed by historians, sometimes confused with the account of King Conrad's train of ladies during this campaign in Edward Gibbon 's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
The Crusade itself achieved little. Louis was a weak and ineffectual military leader with no skill for maintaining troop discipline or morale, or of making informed and logical tactical decisions. In eastern Europe, the French army was at times hindered by Manuel I Comnenusthe Byzantine Emperorwho feared that the Crusade would jeopardize the tenuous safety of his empire. She was compared with Penthesileamythical queen of the Amazonsby the Greek historian Nicetas Choniates.
He added that she gained the epithet chrysopous golden-foot from the cloth of gold that decorated and fringed her robe. Louis and Eleanor stayed in the Philopation palace just outside the city walls. However, while camping near Nicea, the remnants of the German army, including a dazed and sick King Conrad, staggered past the French camp, bringing news of their disaster. The French, with what remained of the Germans, then began to march in increasingly disorganized fashion towards Antioch.
They were in high spirits on Christmas Eve, when they chose to camp in a lush valley near Ephesus. Here they were ambushed by a Turkish detachment, but the French proceeded to slaughter this detachment and appropriate their camp.
Louis then decided to cross the Phrygian mountains directly in the hope of reaching Eleanor's uncle Raymond in Antioch more quickly. As they ascended the mountains, however, the army and the king and queen were horrified to discover the unburied corpses of the previously German army slaughtered there. On the day set for the crossing of Mount Cadmus, Louis chose to take charge of the rear of the column, where the unarmed pilgrims and the baggage trains marched.
The vanguard, with which Queen Eleanor marched, was commanded by her Aquitainian vassal, Geoffrey de Rancon. Unencumbered by baggage, they reached the summit of Cadmus, where Rancon had been ordered to make camp for the night.
Rancon, however, chose to continue on, deciding in concert with Amadeus III, Count of SavoyLouis's uncle, that a nearby plateau would make a better campsite.
Such disobedience was reportedly common. This resulted in the army becoming separated, with some having already crossed the summit and others still approaching it. At this point the Turks, who had been following and feinting for many days, seized their opportunity and attacked those who had not yet crossed the summit.
The French, both soldiers and pilgrims, taken by surprise, were trapped. Those who tried to escape were caught and killed. Many men, horses, and much of the baggage were cast into the canyon below. The chronicler William of Tyrewriting between and and thus perhaps too long after the event to be considered historically accurate, placed the blame for this disaster firmly on the amount of baggage being carried, much of it reputedly belonging to Eleanor and her ladies, and the presence of non-combatants.
The king, having scorned royal apparel in favour of a simple pilgrim's tunic, escaped notice, unlike his bodyguards, whose skulls were brutally smashed and limbs severed. He reportedly "nimbly and bravely scaled a rock by making use of some tree roots which God had provided for his safety" and managed to survive the attack.
Eleanor of Aquitaine
Others were not so fortunate: Since Geoffrey was Eleanor's vassal, many believed that it was she who had been ultimately responsible for the change in plan, and thus the massacre. This suspicion of responsibility did nothing for her popularity in Christendom.
She was also blamed for the size of the baggage train and the fact that her Aquitainian soldiers had marched at the front and thus were not involved in the fight. Continuing on, the army became split, with the commoners marching toward Antioch and the royalty traveling by sea.
When most of the land army arrived, the king and queen had a dispute.
The Early Years of Henry II & Eleanor of Aquitaine
Some, such as John of Salisbury and William of Tyre, say Eleanor's reputation was sullied by rumours of an affair with her uncle Raymond. However, this rumor may have been a ruse, as Raymond, through Eleanor, had been trying to induce Louis to use his army to attack the actual Muslim encampment at nearby Aleppogateway to retaking Edessawhich had all along, by papal decree, been the main objective of the Crusade.
Although this was perhaps the better military plan, Louis was not keen to fight in northern Syria. One of Louis's avowed Crusade goals was to journey in pilgrimage to Jerusalemand he stated his intention to continue.
Consanguinity was grounds for annulment in the medieval period. But rather than allowing her to stay, Louis took Eleanor from Antioch against her will and continued on to Jerusalem with his dwindling army. Damascus was a major wealthy trading centre and was under normal circumstances a potential threat, but the rulers of Jerusalem had recently entered into a truce with the city, which they then forswore.
It was a gamble that did not pay off, and whether through military error or betrayal, the Damascus campaign was a failure.
The Early Years of Henry II & Eleanor of Aquitaine – Rebecca Starr Brown
Louis's long march to Jerusalem and back north, which Eleanor was forced to join, debilitated his army and disheartened her knights; the divided Crusade armies could not overcome the Muslim forces, and the royal couple had to return home. The French royal family retreated to Jerusalem and then sailed to Rome and made their way back to Paris. While in the eastern Mediterranean, Eleanor learned about maritime conventions developing there, which were the beginnings of what would become admiralty law.
She was also instrumental in developing trade agreements with Constantinople and ports of trade in the Holy Lands. Annulment[ edit ] Even before the Crusade, Eleanor and Louis were becoming estranged, and their differences were only exacerbated while they were abroad.
Eleanor's purported relationship with her uncle Raymond,  the ruler of Antioch, was a major source of discord. Eleanor supported her uncle's desire to re-capture the nearby County of Edessathe objective of the Crusade. In addition, having been close to him in their youth, she now showed what was considered to be "excessive affection" toward her uncle. Raymond had plans to abduct Eleanor, to which she consented. Home, however, was not easily reached. Louis and Eleanor, on separate ships due to their disagreements, were first attacked in May by Byzantine ships attempting to capture both on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor.
Although they escaped this attempt unharmed, stormy weather drove Eleanor's ship far to the south to the Barbary Coast and caused her to lose track of her husband. Neither was heard of for over two months. In mid-July, Eleanor's ship finally reached Palermo in Sicily, where she discovered that she and her husband had both been given up for dead. She was given shelter and food by servants of King Roger II of Sicilyuntil the king eventually reached Calabriaand she set out to meet him there.
Later, at King Roger's court in Potenzashe learned of the death of her uncle Raymond, who had been beheaded by Muslim forces in the Holy Land.
This news appears to have forced a change of plans, for instead of returning to France from Marseillesthey went to see Pope Eugene III in Tusculumwhere he had been driven five months before by a revolt of the Commune of Rome. Eugene did not, as Eleanor had hoped, grant an annulment.
Instead, he attempted to reconcile Eleanor and Louis, confirming the legality of their marriage. He proclaimed that no word could be spoken against it, and that it might not be dissolved under any pretext. Eventually, he arranged events so that Eleanor had no choice[ clarification needed ] but to sleep with Louis in a bed specially prepared[ how? The marriage was now doomed. Still without a son and in danger of being left with no male heir, facing substantial opposition to Eleanor from many of his barons and her own desire for annulment, Louis bowed to the inevitable.
On 11 Marchthey met at the royal castle of Beaugency to dissolve the marriage. Hugues de Toucy, archbishop of Senspresided, and Louis and Eleanor were both present, as were the archbishop of Bordeaux and Rouen. Archbishop Samson of Reims acted for Eleanor.
On 21 March, the four archbishops, with the approval of Pope Eugene, granted an annulment on grounds of consanguinity within the fourth degree; Eleanor was Louis' third cousin once removed, and shared common ancestry with Robert II of France. Their two daughters were, however, declared legitimate. Instead of backing her husband or remaining neutral, she sided with the children. When the rebellion started to go wrong, Eleanor was eventually captured seeking refuge in France.
Henry brought her back to England, and placed her under house arrest, perhaps at Salisbury. She remained shut away until he died inand she played no role in public life in these 15 years. She reengaged fully with the political and administrative affairs of her Anglo-French domains, becoming heavily involved in laying the groundwork for the coronation of her son, Richard the Lionheart, as King of England.
She travelled the length and breadth of his future kingdom, visiting cities and castles, extracting oaths of allegiance and goodwill to the new king.
When Richard was imprisoned by the duke of Austria on his way back from the crusade, she raised the ransom and personally escorted him home. When Richard died inJohn became king of England. Instead she battened down the hatches, organised its defences, and waited for John to arrive, before delivering the town safely to him. Tomb of Eleanor Credit: Already he was Duke of Normandy, but he was all the more politically significant given the possibility he would end up on the English throne.
For Louis, this was as politically disastrous as it was personal — not only were Normandy and Aquitaine aligned, but their rulers had married without his approval. Some maintain they were in love, some that Henry abducted her to claim her inheritance and others that they were mutually ambitious and plotted it out together.
The last option is probably the closest to the truth based on what we know which is, granted, not everything. But an interesting truth about her second marriage is that while Eleanor showed a natural ability to govern, it was not a role that Henry looked for her to fill when it came to his own lands. At the outset, he generally left her alone when it came to Aquitaine, but he did not share power with her when it came to Normandy or England.
What he would eventually do, however, is deputize her when he was absent, but even then her role was close to being nominal. Given her extensive travel through England, perhaps what he did rely on her for was intelligence gathering, and a trusted eye on his domain.
What is quite possible, though, is that having grown up watching her claim be thwarted time and again, he was well-aware there was little appetite in England for a woman in power and thus never attempted to push Eleanor forward into the spotlight. It is equally as difficult to guess the personal dynamic between Henry and Eleanor until their marriage deteriorated in the s.
- Henry II of England
- On this day in 1152: Eleanor of Aquitaine marries Henry II
- Henry II (1133 - 1189)
Regardless, there was at least some sense of contentment in the early years by all reports. Well, contentment might be a bit of a reach given the high drama — after Louis learned that his ex-wife had married without permission, he invaded Normandy, forcing Henry to abandon his own plans to invade England and instead defend himself.
Henry II of England - Wikipedia
Geoffrey, a bit put out by the injustice of birth order, was eventually brought to heel. The couple remained together until December when Henry traveled to Normandy and Eleanor returned to Poitiers. Indeed, amicable separation would become the byword of their marriage.
Henry sailed for England to launch his final invasion in January Normandy was left in the care of his mother, while Eleanor was put in charge of Aquitaine duh and Anjou. She traveled to Angers in Anjou soon after his departure and it was here, in the spring, where she learned that she was pregnant. She gave birth to a son, William, on August 17, in Normandy, a particularly joyful occurrence for not only did Henry need an heir, but her first marriage to Louis had been plagued by their inability to produce a son.
Finally, after nearly two decades of civil war, the dynastic dispute between the Normans and the Plantagenets had been resolved. Notably, Henry went first to his mother — not his wife — when returning home.
When Eleanor joined them, the reunion marked the first time she and Matilda met, though sadly, their dynamic is lost to us though God knows many have hypothesized. Meanwhile, King Stephen died and Henry ascended the English throne. News came first to Rouen where Matilda and Eleanor were both residing in October The party rode straight to Winchester to take possession of the treasury and receive the homage of the barons. From there, it was on to London, though the new king and queen were housed in Bermondsey Abbey until their coronation on December Christmas was spent at Westminster, and it was somewhere in England on February 28, that Eleanor gave birth to a second son, named Henry for his father.
Both he and Eleanor traveled throughout the country extensively over the years, despite also spending considerable time abroad. Part of his success in doing so, of course, was that after nearly two decades of violence, everyone wanted peace.
And peace was what they got — byEngland would remain out of conflict for nearly two decades. As for Eleanor, she was an international legend whose sheer fame brought England not an inconsiderable amount of clout. Its former queens — three out of four of whom had been called Matilda since the Conquest — were known for their piety, public docility and ability or lack thereof to produce children.
Henry was called back to Normandy in January and Eleanor stepped in as his regent. To those who knew her, she was lauded for her wisdom and intelligence, and though she was not in a position to bring about sweeping policy changes, she was an able administrator. Her letters show that she was completely at ease in her own authority, highly conscious of her position and insistent that she be obeyed.