Eleanor of Aquitaine (c1124-1204) can be counted one of medieval Europe’s the most powerful women. We love Eleanor’s story because of its extraordinary variety, but also because she defied the conventions of the day to wield real political power. It did not come easily or quickly. Although she was heiress to the wide and rich lands of Aquitaine, she was both orphaned and married when just 13, and through two marriages rarely managed to exercise real political power. Her first marriage was annulled in 1552, and her second saw Eleanor imprisoned for 15 years. For the last 20 years of her life though, she was at last at the political heart of Europe.
In our series I concentrate on the real Eleanor as far as we can find her, and try to ignore the many myths and the wishful thinking that often obscures her.