Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the most powerful monarchs of the Middle Ages—the wife of two powerful kings, and the mother of two others, and queen, in her own right, of a great portion of France. With her husband, Henry II, she founded the Plantagenet dynasty in England, and during her lifetime also controlled a great deal of France. She was a controversial character, both in her youth and in her middle age and was often a thorn in the side of her husbands, but a loyal and protective mother.
Eleanor immediately married Henry Plantagenet, who was ten years her junior, and was the heir apparent of England as well as all of Normandy. The combined holdings of Henry and Eleanor therefore included all of England and much of France, and their empire is usually referred to as the Angevin Empire. Although the Plantagenet's eventually lost much of their French holdings, their claim the Angevin inheritance was a major factor in the, several generations later.
Eleanor produced eight children with Henry II during the early years of their marriage, including five sons. Henry was by no means a faithful husband, but given her own history, the fact that she had many sons, and held much of France in her own right, this did not cause her much alarm. After fourteen years however, Eleanor separated from Henry and moved her court to Aquitaine, taking her younger sons with her. In 1173, her eldest son, Prince Henry was induced by the king of France to rebel against his father, and claim his French dominions early. Eleanor joined in this rebellion, along with her younger sons. The rebellion failed, however, and Eleanor was imprisoned by her husband Henry for the next fifteen years, the remainder of his life.
When Richard ascended to the throne, Eleanor was released from prison. She acted as regent while he was on the Crusades, and arranged for his ransom when he was captured on his way home. In her old age she proved a wise and just ruler, and was a positive influence on her sons. She survived most of her children, and died at the age of 82 during the reign of her youngest son John.
|Birth of Eleanor of Aquitaine|
|Married to Louis VII, king of France|
|Sets out with Louis on the Second Crusade|
|Marriage with Louis VII annulled. Eleanor marries Henry Plantagenet|
|Death of Stephen. Henry Plantagenet claims throne of England.|
|Birth of Prince Henry, eldest living son of Henry and Eleanor|
|Birth of Richard, second son of Henry and Eleanor|
|Birth of John, youngest son of Henry and Eleanor|
|Eleanor separates from Henry, and moves back to Aquitaine, with John and Geoffrey.|
|Murder of Archbishop Becket|
|Prince Henry revolts against his father, with the aid of Eleanor.|
|Eleanor imprisoned by her husband for fifteen years.|
|Eleanor released from prison on the death of Henry II.|
|co-ruled England as regent while Richard was fighting the third crusade.|
|Death of Richard I in France. John inherits the throne.|
|Death of Eleanor of Aquitaine.|
|Second Crusade in||The Story of France by Mary Macgregor|
|Eleanor of Aquitaine in||Great Englishwomen by M. B. Synge|
|Reclaimed kingdoms in England and Normandy after chaotic reign of Stephen. Founded Plantagenet dynasty.|
|Son of Henry II. Spent almost his entire reign crusading and fighting in France.|
|Wicked king, murdered his nephew and usurped throne. Forced to sign the Magna Carta.|
|Eldest son of Eleanor and Henry II, who fought his father for his domains in France|
|First husband of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Warred with the Angevin dynasty.|
|Instigator of the Second Crusade.|