In an age when even high born women were little more than the property of their husband or fathers, Eleanor of Aquitaine stands out as a very resourceful and independent lady and a force to be reckoned with even by kings!
The beautiful Eleanor became Duchess of Aquitaine, which included the Périgord, in 1137 and married the man who was to become the French King, the pious Louis VII. She even went on the Second Crusade with him but whilst in the Holy Land she was rumoured to have had an affair with her handsome uncle Raymond of Antioch.
Not surprisingly Louis wasn’t happy with this and on their return to France the marriage was annulled and within six weeks she had married the young Henry Plantagenet who soon went on to be Henry II of England. From Queen of France to Queen of England and large parts of France was no mean feat even for a woman of Eleanor’s undoubted abilities!
Eleanor had ten children including two kings of England, Richard I (the Lionheart) and John I (Lackland). A very able administrator, she founded the Court of Love in Poitiers in 1180 and after Henry’s death in 1189 she ruled England while Richard went on the Third Crusade.
Eleanor died in 1204 at the then venerable age of 82 having survived both her husbands and several of her children.