Eleanor of Aquitaine by Alison Weir

Suzie Eisfelder

I bought this book at the op shop. I’ve been doing a lot of looking at books at op shops recently. Trying not to do too much because I come away with books and my TBR Pile is already bursting at the shelves. I’ve probably mentioned before how I have an idea for a book set in the 12th century. I might have specified the year 1120 which is the year the White Ship went down off the coast of Barfleur. When I saw this book I bought it because it covers some of the same time frame as the book in my mind. I was hoping to learn some historical stuff about the era. I’d suggest I might have been stretching things a little as I’m not planning on putting in much about kings and queens in my book. Maybe I just wanted to buy books and this was a good excuse. Anyway, I read it from beginning to end, but I didn’t read the Notes on the Chief Resources. I feel they would be good reading at some later stage.

I found this book to be readable but a challenge. I’m not a history person despite the number of history and biographical type books I read. I am considering studying history at Uni, but not next year as I have too many large projects on the go. Eleanor of Aquitaine was an amazing person who to a very old age, in the 12th century 46 was old and she was starting to go strong at 46. Finally dying in 1204 at the age of 82!

This book has taught me many things. The first is that royalty in those days and locations seem to have been very greedy for possessions and countries. Kings fought other rulers. Sons fought their fathers, and siblings fought siblings. The loser seems to have been the peasant folk who often were slaughtered or had their houses and land burned down or otherwise destroyed.

And then there’s a list of things I might need for my book.

The country of Aquitaine issued its own coinage. I had been told that various countries or regions issued their own currency, but this was the first place where I’d seen it in action.

Two sets of knights came into being due to the crusades. Founded in 1099, only twenty one years earlier than the date I’m using in my book, the Knights of the Order of the Hospital of st John of Jerusalem (Knights Hospitaller). and founded in 1118 only two years before the date I’ve chosen were the Poor Knights of Christ and Temple of Solomon (Knights Templar). Not too sure how I’ll use this information but I have many options.

On page 78 there’s a nice description of the city of Angers written in in the year 1200 by Ralph of Diceto. Considering I’m trying to find out how to describe Southampton in England in the year 1120 this is a good omen for me.

Then there’s a little information about heraldry, punishments, women’s clothing and how some kings and queens left Barfleur, Normandy and landed in Portsmouth, England. Weir also mentions them landing in Southamton, England, but it’s really nice to have another option.

If you’re interested in English History, or European History in the 12th century this is a good starting place. Here’s a link in case you want to look at the book or even buy it. Thanks to everyone who has clicked in the past two weeks, those numbers are looking really good.

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