Books for Eleanor of Aquitaine

Here is a very short booklist for Eleanor enthusiasts who would like to go to the horse’s mouth


Eleanor of Aquitaine: Queen of France, Queen of England. Ralph Turner, 2009

This is a substantial book of 394 pages, and of all the single book biographies it is probably the most authoritative and rigorous, working hard to focus on fact rather than fiction. There are problems with it; it can be a little  dull, with a lot of repetition; and honestly there are plenty of occasions when you think ‘hang on…he must be guessing there’. He has a real hang up about ‘black legends’ which although true in the past are a bit overblown now. But having said that, it is I start, definitely the most authoritative.

Eleanor Of Aquitaine: By the Wrath of God, Queen of England Alison Weir, 2008

Much more engagingly written as you would expect, but equally more given to conjecture, and there feels like a lot of padding along the way. Sometimes that provides great context in terms of land and economy, sometimes you can’t help feel it’s to get the page count up with a lot about Henry II. It’s good, but slightly inclined to choose a view that gives Eleanor maximum agency where that’s verifiable or not.

Queens Consort: England’s Medieval Queens Lisa Hilton, 2008

This is a chapter in a wider book. It’s a really good chapter as it happens. It’s much more down to earth, rather brutal in refusing to go anywhere that’s not verifiable – and therefore gives Eleanor much less agency. Disappointing though this is, it is a very useful counterpoise to the full biographies. This is the one to go for if you want to know more, but don’t want to to wade through a full biography. It also has he advantage of putting Eleanor in context of the role of Queens that came before and after her in England.

The World of Eleanor of AquitaineLiterature and Society in Southern France Between the Eleventh and Thirteenth Centuries, Marcus Graham Bull, 2005

A series of articles, some of which are interesting background to Eleanor’s culture. Probably not worth buying I must say, one for the library or you can get some of it through Google Books.

Eleanor of Aquitaine : lord and lady, Ed. Bonnie Wheeler, 2002

Interesting set of articles, but definitely one for the library

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