Agnes Strickland (essay date 1864)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: “Eleanora of Aquitaine, Queen of Henry II” in Lives of the Queens of England, Boston: Taggard & Thompson, 1864, pp. 166-203.

[In the following excerpt, Strickland follows Eleanor's life through 1171, including her role in the Second Crusade, her attitude toward the institution of marriage, and her reaction to her husband's affair with Rosamond.]

The life of the consort of Henry II. commences the biographies of a series of Provençal princesses, with whom the earlier monarchs of our royal house of Plantagenet allied themselves, for upwards of a century. Important effects, not only on the domestic history of the court of England, but on its commerce and...

(The entire section is 11846 words.)

Beatrice A. Lees (essay date 1906)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Letters of Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine to Pope Celestine III,” The English Historical Review, Vol. 21, No. LXXXI, January, 1906, pp. 78-93.

[In the following essay, Lees examines three letters traditionally believed to have been written by Eleanor to persuade the Pope to aid Richard the Lionheart. She finds that, instead, they were most probably rhetorical exercises by Peter of Blois.]

Of all the perils which beset the unwary historian none is more insidious than the rhetorical exercise masquerading in the guise of an historical letter; it deceives only the more effectually because it was written with no thought of deception, and is often close enough...

(The entire section is 7335 words.)

Frank McMinn Chambers (essay date 1941)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: “Some Legends Concerning Eleanor of Aquitaine,” Speculum, Vol. 16, 1941, pp. 459-68.

[In the following essay, Chambers contrasts the known historical evidence with various legends of Eleanor, including: her supposed participation in the Second Crusade, engaging in several love affairs, causing the death of Rosamond Clifford, and ruling over poetry courts.]

Of the few details associated in the common mind with Eleanor of Aquitaine, several are patent fictions which no sober historian would accept, although her biographers have done so all too often. But these stories, false as they are, generally have some basis in fact; and it will be my purpose here to...

(The entire section is 4816 words.)

Robert L. Chapman (essay date 1955)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: “A Note on the Demon Queen Eleanor,” Modern Language Notes Vol. LXX, No. 6, pp. 393-96.

[In the following essay, Chapman discusses the legend of Eleanor that resulted in the character of the demon Cassodorien in Richard Coeur de Lion, a thirteenth-century romance.]

In the thirteenth-century Middle English romance Richard Coeur de Lion,1 the hero's mother is a beautiful stranger named Cassodorien, daughter to the King of Antioch. She asks that her marriage to Henry II “be done priuily,” and the next morning at mass she swoons just before the elevation of the host. Her explanation is: “For j am ρus jschent,/ I dar neuere see...

(The entire section is 1396 words.)

H. G. Richardson (essay date 1959)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Letters and Charters of Eleanor of Aquitaine,” The English Historical Review, Vol. LXXIV, No. CCXCI, April, 1959, pp. 193-213.

[In the following essay, Richardson painstakingly examines many of the official written documents of Eleanor, and concludes that she did not have the services of a formal chancellor.]

It may be worth while, if only to remove doubts and misconceptions, to devote some pages to the clerks who served Eleanor of Aquitaine in the capacity of chancellor or, if they did not bear that title, were responsible for the writing and sealing of her charters and letters. Though nothing like a complete collection of Eleanor's surviving...

(The entire section is 10656 words.)

Rebecca A. Baltzer (essay date 1976)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: “Music in the Life and Times of Eleanor of Aquitaine” in Eleanor of Aquitaine: Patron and Politician, edited by William W. Kibler, University of Texas Press, 1976, pp. 61-80.

[In the following essay, Baltzer details the contribution of Eleanor and her family to the history of music, particularly of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.]

It is safe to say that, had Eleanor of Aquitaine not made a significant mark on twelfth-century politics and culture, the history of music in the Middle Ages would be very different from what it is. Both directly and indirectly, Eleanor and her family and their descendants, who eventually married into just about every royal...

(The entire section is 8525 words.)

D. D. R. Owen (essay date 1993)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: “Legend” in Eleanor of Aquitaine: Queen and Legend, Blackwell, 1993, pp. 103-61.

[In the following excerpt, Owen discusses Eleanor's chroniclers, particularly on the subject of King Henry's affair with Rosamond, and on the relationship between history and legend.]

Historical truth in the Middle Ages was a perishable commodity, apt to degenerate with time. Its recording was largely in the hands of churchmen, who were not above adapting it to their own code of values, slanting it perhaps to the advantage of their own community or to the detriment of a rival cause, and often with the intention of courting the favour of a patron. Such considerations apart, the...

(The entire section is 21157 words.)