Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Queen Eleanor: Independent Spirit of the Medieval World recounts the life of this famous medieval queen. Polly Schoyer Brooks adopts a chronological approach in presenting Eleanor’s life, from her birth in 1122 to her death in 1204. Following an introduction about Eleanor’s youth in her ancestral Aquitaine, the story of Eleanor’s life unfolds in fifteen chapters. The book concludes with an author’s note about how Brooks envisions Eleanor’s physical appearance, a chronology of major events and historical milestones in Eleanor’s life, and a selected bibliography for additional information about the subject and her times. Illustrations of medieval monuments and illuminations from medieval manuscripts help readers to visualize the medieval world of Eleanor’s era.

The first Chapter begins with Eleanor of Aquitaine’s betrothal and marriage to Prince Louis, the heir to the throne of France. Three chapters cover the fourteen years of her life as queen of France, the wife of Louis VII. The major theme is the personality conflict between the introspective, religious Louis and the vivacious Eleanor. Differences in background and setting between sunny Aquitaine, beloved by troubadour poets, and chilly urban Paris contributed to Eleanor’s dissatisfaction with her husband. These problems became irreconcilable when Eleanor journeyed with Louis VII to the exotic Holy Land on the Second Crusade. An interlude spent with her uncle, Raymond of Toulouse, the prince of Antioch, reminded her of the...

(The entire section is 619 words.)