Friday, April 06, 2012

Friday Reading Assignment

Whoever coined the phrase "Well behaved women rarely make history" may have had Eleanor of Aquitaine in mind.  Eleanor has been one of my favorite characters of history, since I was in high school and read one of the historical romances, by Jean Plaidy or one of her ilk that I loved back then.  You may roll your eyes, but I learned a lot about history, reading those novels.

Today's assignment is Eleanor of Aquitaine:  A Life, by Alison Weir, who is a great biographer for the people.  Her books are carefully researched but written to appeal to non-scholars.

The only other twelth century woman I'm familiar with is the "Empress" Matilda, another misbehaver and Eleanor's mother-in-law.  Eleanor herself lived quite a life, queen of two countries--France by her first husband, England by her second--went on crusade, had several children --nine, I believe--several lovers, exerted some political influence, despite being imprisoned by her husband for several years for encouraging her sons in a rebellion.  She was also played by Katherine Hepburn in The Lion in Winter, a fantastic movie, that also stars the incomparable Peter O'Toole as Henry II.

This is an easy read, for a biography, although sometimes it feels more like a biography of Henry II and his unruly sons, since there was a long stretch of time in which Eleanor was imprisoned and thus not given much mention by the chroniclers.


  1. Alison Weir--she's on my list. Thanks to you, I believe.

  2. This will be a nice next step for me. I'm reading The Other Boleyn Girl right now.
    of course, I also need to get through about 200 essays as well over break.

  3. Loved the Lion in Winter, loved Katherine Hepburn, didn't fancy, but respected Peter O'Toole.

  4. I remember reading A Proud Taste of Scarlet and Miniver by E. L. Konigsburg in middle school in mid-70's and loving it. While Eleanor is in heaven waiting for Henry, she and others recall her life.