18 May, 2006

Eleanor of Aquitaine marries Henry Plantagenet, 18th May, 1152

Eleanor of Aquitaine marries Henry Plantagenet. Two years later following the settlement of the civil war in England between Henry's mother Matilda & Stephen of Anjou Henry succeeds Stephen as king. Together with the land held by Eleanor (Aquitaine & Poitiers) this creates the Angevin Empire, covering England and most of modern day France.
When they married Eleanor was thirty, eleven years older than her husband, and only two month divorced from the French King Louis VII.
Eleanor gave Henry five sons and two daughters. Two of the sons become King in turn, Richard "the Lionheart" & John "Lackland". Eleanor became increasingly distanced from her husband and in 1173 leads a rebellion with three of her sons against Henry. The rebellion fails and Eleanor is locked up for the next 15 years until Henry's death.
Her favourite son Richard succeeded his father and, of course released his mother. When Richard was later captured and imprisoned it was Eleanor who was the driving force behind raising the ransom and getting him released.
She died in 1204 in her favourite religious house Fontevrault Abbey.
This period of English history is unusually well cover by Hollywood - "The Lion in Winter" starred Katharine Hepburn as Eleanor. In Disney's "Robin Hood", the spoiled Prince John sulks and sucks his thumb on constantly being reminded of his mother - and of course the relationship between Richard & John is a key plot device behind the wonderful "The Adventures of Robin Hood" starring Errol Flynn.

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