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Eleanor of Aquitaine: Queen of France, Queen of England Paperback – December 13, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The self-confident and power-seeking Eleanor of Aquitaine (1124–1204) was heir to France's largest duchy. Eleanor became queen of France through her marriage at 13 to the future Louis VII. But Louis's indecisiveness during the Second Crusade and Eleanor's forthright support of her uncle the prince of Antioch's strategy over Louis's provoked the dissolution of her 15-year marriage. She quickly remarried a younger man, the future Henry II, 12th-century Europe's most powerful monarch. She bore him nine children while acting as regent during Henry's long absences in his reign's crucial early years. But Henry's interventions in her own realm of Aquitaine drove Eleanor to urge her three eldest sons to rebel against their father. After Henry's death, she emerged from 15 years of house arrest to play a significant political role in the reigns of her sons Richard I and John. Despite repetitious prose and a somewhat off-putting academic format, Turner's (King John) work is highly readable and informative, fleshing out the adventurous life and times of a spirited, beautiful and ambitious political animal who paid a heavy price for defying medieval expectations of women. Illus., maps. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Eleanor of Aquitaine comes into her own in Turner’s measured, meticulously researched biography of a queen more often associated with scandal and frivolity than with intelligence and power. Married first to Louis VII of France and then to Henry II of England, the mother of three English kings was a renowned beauty and the daughter of a distinguished French dynasty. During the course of her exceptionally long (1124–1204) and eventful life, she broke a host of gender-based barriers, including accompanying Philip on the Second Crusade, acting as Henry’s regent during his long absences, and becoming actively involved in the political intrigue surrounding the power struggle for the English throne. Imprisoned by Henry for 15 years after plotting against him, Eleanor emerged from her enforced confinement stronger and more determined than ever, eventually becoming the power behind the throne of her two sons, kings Richard I and John. Firmly grounding his subject into historical context, Turner provides a portrait of a passionately ambitious and extremely intelligent twelfth-century queen who transcended societal limitations and expectations. --Margaret Flanagan --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 1st Paberback Edition edition (December 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300178204
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300178203
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,321,038 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ralph V. Turner was born on a plantation outside Forrest City, Arkansas, where he attended public schools. He was a history major at the University of Arkansas, where he took his BA and MA. Following graduation, he spent an academic year at Poitiers, France, as a Fulbright Scholar. That year was a life-changing experience, creating a thirst for travel,learning and the scholar's life that has never been quenched. On his return from France, he enrolled at the Johns Hopkins University, where he completed his doctorate in history in 1962, writing his thesis on the English royal courts of justice under King John and Henry III. A revised and expanded version was published as 'The King and his Courts' by Cornell University Press (1968). He joined the history faculty of the Florida State University at Tallahassee after leaving Johns Hopkins, and he spent most of his academic career there, continuing to do research and write on medieval English history, chiefly on the Angevin kings and their government. This interest led him to turn to study of Magna Carta and its impact on Anglo-American government and politics, 'Magna Carta through the Ages' (Pearson 2003). He became interested in writing collective biographies of royal administrators in 12th-century England, and later he tackled biographies of King John (Longman 1994; History Press 2009) of Richard Lionheart co-authored with his former student Richard R. Heiser(Pearson 2000). Yet his interest in French history and civilization remained strong, and he became more and more interested in the Angevin kings' French possessions, an interest whetted by his studies of Richard I and John. His year as a student at Poitiers had aroused a lifelong interest in Eleanor of Aquitaine, and after his retirement from teaching in 2000, he turned to uncovering a true image of that scandal-ridden queen in a new biography. It was published by Yale University Press in spring 2009.

Currently I am working on three projects that may or may not result in books: wet-nurses serving the children of English royalty in the 12th and 13th centuries, the bastards sired by King John, a biography of Isabelle of Angouleme, King John's wife.

Customer Reviews

He will be teaching a course of the troubadors in the Middle Englih period this winter.
Anthony
My father was having a very difficult time finding this book in any store and two major bookstore chains told him until/unless it was reprinted he was out of luck.
Emily M.
Ralph V. Turner's ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE (Aquitaine where I happen to live) is a fine book, but I also highly appreciate Allison Weir's ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE.
Boyd Hone

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Adrian Brooks on July 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ralph Turner begins this 300 page book by stating that little is known about the fascinating Eleanor of Acquitaine. He then compensates for the dearth of data by repeating most of his major facts as many as twenty times. I've never read anything where I felt more bludgeoned. It's unfortunate because, if the author had been less concerned with s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-g his text out to traditional book length and had written a crisp 150 page biography, Turner's work would have been far better, and less controlling. If you're determined to learn about the only woman who was ever queen of both France and England, proceed as you will but be advised: this is a numbing read.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Rittenburg on November 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
A wonderful book if you are looking for an in-depth study of the former Queen of France and England. While Turner's study is not as accessible as the famous Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Four Kings by Amy Kelly, it presents it's research as much more matter of fact. This account does not romanticize it's subject as most other Eleanor reviews have, but instead posits a fair picture of a woman who is completely remarkable without the embellishment.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By medievalnerd on July 24, 2012
Format: Paperback
We've needed a new English-language biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine for some time now. Kelly's beautifully written and engaging work is dated in its choice and interpretation of sources, and Owen's more recent biography indulges in far too much speculation.

Unfortunately, while Turner has clearly done his research, exploiting newly-available documentary sources such as charters as well as the familiar old chronicles, and while he is far more judicious in his interpretations of the material than Kelly or Owen, his book needed a great deal of editing that it never received. Every chapter contains unnecessary repetition (how many times do we need to be told who Ralph de Faye or Geoffrey du Loroux was, or circle back to observations already given about a particular event?). These flaws are surprising given that the book is published by Yale UP. The peer-reviewers and editor should have recognized the problems and insisted that they be rectified before taking the book into production.

I disagree with another of the reviewers, who implies that a 150-page biography is all that would really be possible, given the dearth of evidence. Jean Flori has published an excellent biography in French that extends to 442 pages (not counting the notes, bibliography, or index), all without undo repetition or fattening.

If you don't read French, then Turner's book really is the best thing available, but let's hope a good press soon decides to publish an English translation of Flori's book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mark Richard Beaulieu on July 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a writer on the deep life of Eleanor of Aquitaine, this sits very high on my stack. It gives a good bit more thought to the biography and is a more up to date and scholarly than the ones that first brought my interest (Weir-the researcher, Kelly), yet it has the full scope. Highly recommended for devotees in search of the true Alienor.
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By Rocky Wood on January 6, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very good book, strips away the myth and deals only with what the evidence suggests (a rare thing indeed in books about Eleanor). Great detail, however, the author has a terrible habit of repeating himself, which grated on me
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By CLAUDIA G. on January 4, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is one of my all time favorite books. This was such an interesting, amazing woman, especially for the time in which she lived.
I didn't want the book to end.
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