Monday, March 21, 2011

Guest Post: Christy English discusses Who Is Eleanor of Aquitaine?

I am so honored and excited to bring an amazing guest post by Christy English, who is the author of The Queens Pawn and To Be Queen. She has so grasciously volunteered her time to be with us to today in order to discuss one of my favorite historical women of all time: Eleanor of Aquitaine! Make sure you stop by on Wednesday 23 to read my review of To Be Queen and also a chance to win a copy!

Who Is Eleanor of Aquitaine?
                      Guest Post by Christy English
To Be Queen: A Novel of the Early Life of Eleanor of Aquitaine

Who is Eleanor of Aquitaine? Though this medieval queen has dominated my life over the last five years as I have written both THE QUEEN’S PAWN and TO BE QUEEN, I have discovered when talking to people less obsessed with medieval history, that some do not know who she is. I have had a few people say, “Oh, Elizabeth I? The Armada Queen?” and others ask, “Oh, you mean Eleanor Roosevelt?” So since we can not assume that Eleanor of Aquitaine is the by-word for everyone that she is in my own life, I would like to talk a little about her here.

We do not know what day Eleanor of Aquitaine was born. Historians are not even certain of the year. I believe however that Eleanor, Alienor in her native tongue, the langue d’oc, was born in the year 1122. Her father was William X, Duke of Aquitaine and Gascony, Count of Poitou. The Duchy of Aquitaine and all its adjacent lands stretched from the border of the Duchy of Burgundy in Eastern France to the Atlantic Ocean. The cities of Limoges, Poitiers, and Bordeaux were all under Eleanor’s father’s protection. And when Eleanor’s older brother died from a fever in 1130, Eleanor became Duke William’s undisputed heir.

When her father died, Eleanor was fifteen years old. She became duchess upon his death, and finished brokering her marriage to Louis VII of France herself, with the help of her faithful churchman, the Bishop of Limoges. Louis and Eleanor married in July 1137, and were married for fifteen years, producing only two living daughters. Eleanor of course was blamed for this, because at the time, the lack of a son was always the woman’s fault.
Eleanor did not let this deter her. She ruled France jointly with her husband, and rode on the Second Crusade with him in 1147. They returned to France in 1148, and after the birth of their second child, Eleanor knew with certainty that she wanted out of her marriage to the King of France.

King Louis VII of France
Eleanor’s First Husband

After years, she was able to arrange the annulment with Rome, and with the support of her husband, Eleanor was set free in the spring of 1152. Of course, she had a second husband waiting in the wings. Henry, the young Duke of Normandy.

King Henry II of England
Eleanor’s Second Husband

Henry of Normandy and Eleanor of Aquitaine married in May of 1152, and within two years Eleanor had given birth to one son and was pregnant with a second, all the time ruling as regent in Anjou and Normandy while Henry fought to regain the Kingdom of England. Henry succeeded in reclaiming his birthright which had been usurped by Stephen of Blois, and on December 19, 1154, Henry and Eleanor were crowned King and Queen of England.

King Richard the Lionhearted
Eleanor’s Favorite Son

Eleanor and Henry went on to have eight living children, three of whom, Henry the Younger, Richard the Lionhearted, and Prince John, all became Kings of England. Eleanor watched three of her sons crowned, and lived to the age of 82. For the last few years of her life, Eleanor retired to the nunnery she had founded at the Abbey of Fontevrault, where she died on April 1, 1204.

Eleanor of Aquitaine’s Tomb
Fontevrault Abbey

Taylor, thank you so much for hosting me today. TO BE QUEEN: A NOVEL OF THE EARLY LIFE OF ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE is available for pre-order and will be in bookstores on April 5.

For those who want to know more about my adventures, readers can find me on my blog at and on Twitter at


  1. I've preordered my copy of To Be Queen, so I'm looking forward to reading it soon. Thank you for this guest post!

  2. Taylor, thank you so much for hosting me. Allison and Joanne, I hope you end up loving eleanor as much as I do...

  3. This is a great guest post from Christy! I didn't really know much about Eleanor of Aquitane, but this is a great summary of her life to help put her in the right historical context. I can't wait to read To Be Queen. :)

  4. I'm so glad I came upon this website. Thank you Christy for the short biography of Eleanor of Aquitane. I didn't know she was queen of France before she became queen of England. She must have been a strong woman to be able to do all she did. I pre-ordered your book from Amazon yesterday and can't wait to read it. Thank you also for our "conversation" on Facebook. I enjoyed that very much.