Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Biography   by Marion Meade

By Marion Meade

"Marion Meade has informed the tale of Eleanor, wild, devious, from a completely ancient yet varied standpoint: a woman's aspect of view."—Allene Talmey, Vogue.

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The calumnies of Eleanor’s contemporaries continued to pursue her throughout the centuries as balladeers used her legend to fashion popular songs: in Queen Eleanor’s Confession she is an adulteress and the mother of an illegitimate child by William Marshal; in The Ballad of Fair Rosamond she becomes a murderess, while the adulteress Rosamond Clifford is cast in the role of a sweet unfortunate victim. Apart from Eleanor’s portrayal in folklore, professional historians have treated her as either a mere shadow of her husbands or as an accident among the important activities of men.

There was no question of hiding Dangereuse, nor did the lovers apparently practice discretion. Therefore, when Philippa returned from Toulouse and discovered a rival living in her own palace, her patience was sorely tried. Eyes blazing, she appealed first to her friends at court, then to the Church. With little trouble she was able to persuade the papal legate. Giraud, to speak to her husband about his imprudent behavior. ” Although William’s sentence of excommunication was renewed, he failed to take the matter seriously and, to Philippa’s disgust, had a portrait of Dangereuse painted on his shield.

With the social strata cemented into airtight compartments, they were born in thatched hovels and died there and were taxed and worked in the interim as the nobility deemed fit. Both men and women tilled the fields and tended the vines; they kept pigs and perhaps a goose or two, and they made cheese. Inside the village churches, they prostrated themselves on the naked stones and made their novenas to the Blessed Virgin or Saint Radegonde, beseeching these holy ladies’ intercession with an awesome God; but if the Lord failed to respond, they reverted to pagan superstition and summoned fairies and witches.

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