Eleanor of Aquitaine
"Beautiful, ambitious and powerful, both revered and reviled throughout history, Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the controversial and colourful personalities of the Middle Age.
Heir to the duchy of Aquitaine, Queen of France - as the wife of Louis VII - and then married to Henry II, she became the most prominent woman in England. Many saw her as a ruthless virago, governed by a lust for power, who schemed against her husband and dominated the lives of her sins, Richard the Lionheart and King John. Shakespeare portrays her as 'a monstruous injurer of heaven and earth.'
Yet there was another side to this powerful queen constort. Worshipped by men and idealised in the songs of the troubadors, she was the sex symbol of her age. She also became renowned as a generous and strong ruler, throwing off the constraints that shackled twelfth century women. Among her achievements was her patronage of the abbey at Fontevrault as a refuge for battered wives.
Here acclaimed medieval historian Desmond Seward reconciles the paradoxes of Eleanor's formidable personality, in a magnificent work that does full justice to a great woman."
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