This Month in History


Manuscript Image of Eleanor of Aquitaine


1st April 1204 – the Death of Eleanor of Aquitaine

One of Medieval Europe’s great figures, Eleanor was queen of both France and England, a patron of the arts and ruler of Aquitaine for nearly 70 years.

At the age of 15, in April 1137, Eleanor inherited the Duchy of Aquitaine, was then betrothed to Louis VII, and Queen of France by August. Eleanor accompanied Louis on the 2nd Crusade in 1145, recruiting troops from Aquitaine to assist the campaign. The marriage was annulled in 1152 as no male heir had been born.

Eleanor then married Henry, Duke of Normandy, and added Aquitaine to the Angevin possessions. By 1154 Henry was king of England and the paramount ruler in Europe. Even as Queen of England, Eleanor retained her status as ruler of Aquitaine and from 1166-73 held court at Poitiers, greatly encouraging troubadors and the development of the ideals of courtly love.

In 1173, Eleanor supported her son’s failed revolt against Henry, and was held prisoner for the remainder of Henry’s reign. After his death 1189, Eleanor became a key figure in the government of Richard the Lionheart, playing a key role in the Council of Regency during his crusading. In the reign of John, Eleanor returned to Aquitaine and attempted to govern the province during John’s wars with France. She retired into the abbey of Fontevraud in 1201, where she died three years later, having outlived all but 2 of her children. 

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