Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of England
b.1122 Poitou, France
m. 22 Jul 1137
m. 18 May 1152
Facts and Events
Eleanor of Aquitaine (; 1122 or 1124 – 1 April 1204) was one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in Western Europe during the High Middle Ages. As well as being duchess of Aquitaine in her own right, she was queen consort of France (1137–1152) and of England (1154–1189). She was the patroness of such literary figures as Wace, Benoît de Sainte-Maure, and Bernart de Ventadorn. She belonged to the French House of Poitiers, the Ramnulfids.
Eleanor succeeded her father, becoming duchess of Aquitaine and countess of Poitiers, and by extension, the most eligible bride in Europe. Three months after her accession, she married King Louis VII of France, son of her guardian, King Louis VI. As queen of France, she participated in the unsuccessful Second Crusade. Soon after the Crusade, Eleanor sought an annulment of her marriage but was rejected by Pope Eugene III. However, after the birth of Alix, a second daughter, Louis agreed to an annulment. The marriage was annulled on 11 March 1152, on the grounds of consanguinity within the fourth degree. Their daughters were declared legitimate and custody was awarded to Louis, while Eleanor's lands were restored to her.
As soon as the annulment was granted, Eleanor became engaged to the duke of Normandy, Henry II, who became King Henry II of England in 1154; he was her cousin within the third degree and nine years younger than she. The couple married on 18 May 1152 (Whit Sunday), eight weeks after the annulment of Eleanor's first marriage, in a cathedral in Poitiers, France . Over the next thirteen years, she bore Henry eight children: five sons, three of whom would become kings, and three daughters. However, Henry and Eleanor eventually became estranged. Henry imprisoned her in 1173 for supporting her son Henry's revolt against her husband, and she was not released until 1189.
Eleanor was widowed on 6 July 1189. Her husband was succeeded by their son, King Richard I, who immediately released his mother. Now queen dowager, Eleanor acted as regent while Richard went on the Third Crusade. Eleanor survived Richard and lived well into the reign of her youngest son King John. By the time of her death, she had outlived all her children except for King John and Queen Eleanor of Castile.