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Leading Up to the Magna Carta


... for her cultivated intelligence and great beauty, was queen to two kings and ... way home, while resting in Sicily, Eleanor was brought the news that her uncle ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Leading Up to the Magna Carta

Leading Up to the Magna Carta

Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204), renowned for
her cultivated intelligence and great beauty, was
queen to two kings and mother of two others. She
was one of the most powerful and fascinating
personalities of feudal Europe.
Eleanor's happy childhood ended with the
subsequent deaths of her mother, her little
brother and, in 1137, her father. Heiress of the
duchy of Aquitaine, the orphaned Eleanor was
married to Louis VII King of France in 1137 at
age 15, bringing into the union her vast
possessions from the River Loire to the Pyrenees.
"Bodily Charles was well built, strong, and noble
in height, measuring seven times his own foot.
His head was round, his hair in later years a
brilliant white, his expression calm and
cheerful, his bearing full of majesty, his tread
firm, his carriage (posture) erect, his voice
high..." The King liked good food, especially
roast venison (deer). He was often entertained by
minstrels, jugglers, and other traveling
entertainers. He liked to have someone read to
him as he ate, preferring histories or religious
books. He stood near 6'4 and had a mustache (no
beard which was the Frankish custom). Lived to be
in his 70's marrying 3 times and later living
with 3 woman....despite the strict moral codes of
the Frankish kingdom.
Louis VII (later called the Pious ) had been
brought up for an office in the church, but he
had become heir to the French throne after the
death of his elder brother. He was a weak, dull,
grave and deeply religious man. He and the lively
Eleanor were ill matched. Louis never understood
his young wife, but he appears to have adored her
with a passionate admiration. It wasn't until
1145 , after 8 years of marriage that a daughter,
Marie, was born.
A few years after her marriage, at age 19,
Eleanor knelt in the cathedral of Vezelay before
the celebrated Abbe Bernard of Clairvaux offering
him thousands of her vassals for the Second
Crusade which included "many other ladies of
In the papal bull for the next Crusade, it
expressly forbade women of all sorts to join the
expedition. All the Christian monarchs, including
King Louis VII, agreed to this.
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When they reached the city of Antioch, Eleanor
found herself deep in a renewed friendship with
Raymond, her uncle, who had been appointed prince
of the city.
Louis VII demanded that Eleanor follow him to
Jerusalem. Eleanor, furious, announced to one and
all that their marriage was not valid in the eyes
of God, for they were related to an extent
prohibited by the Church.
Soon the crusade became a complete failure and
even Louis' brother Robert quickly rushed home.
On their way back to France, the two traveled in
separate ships. Both , Louis and Eleanor visited
the pope to plead for a divorce. Instead, the
pope tried to reconcile them and induced them to
sleep in the same bed again. On her way home,
while resting in Sicily, Eleanor was brought the
news that her uncle Raymond had been killed in
battle, and that his head delivered to the Caliph
of Baghdad.
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Although her marriage to Louis VII continued for
a time, the relationship was over. In 1152, after
15 years,the marriage was annulled. At age 30 and
still beautiful, her vast estates reverted to
Eleanor's control.
Less than one year after her annulment, Eleanor
married Handsome Harry, Prince of England, a man
11 year younger.
Eleanor's inheritance passed to the English
crown, which, when combined with his English
possessions, made Henry much more powerful than
Louis, and he was a frequently hostile neighbor.
The marriage of Eleanor and Henry was as stormy
as her first.
Although Eleanor's first marriage had resulted in
only two daughters born in over fifteen years,
Eleanor bore Henry five sons and three daughters
in about the same amount of time. However, as the
children grew up and Henry openly took
mistresses, the couple grew apart. Eleanor was
44 years old, when she gave birth to their
youngest son, John Lackland. By then she had
discovered the existence of "Fair" Rosamund
Clifford, the most famous of Henry's mistresses.
Later Henry even managed to seduce the fiancee of
his son Richard, who was a daughter of Louis VII
and his second wife.
When in 1173 their sons revolted against their
father, Eleanor backed them and was subsequently
imprisoned by Henry until his death in 1189. By
then three of their sons had already died and
Henry's successor was Eleanor's favourite son,
Richard I Lionheart (1157-1199), who appreciated
his mother's advice.
When he went on crusade, Eleanor became regent.
Although Richard was reputedly a homosexual, he
was supposed to provide England with heirs, so
Eleanor escorted his bride-to-be to Sicily. When
Richard was killed in 1199, he was succeeded by
his youngest brother, John Lackland (1166-1216).
Eleanor returned to Aquitaine and retired in the
abbey of Fontevraud. She remained busy and active
and personally arranged the marriage of her
Castilian granddaughter to the grandson of Louis
VII. Thus she lived to be about 82, an
extraordinary age in the middle ages.
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