"A monstrous injurer of of heaven and earth," as Shakespeare referred to this powerful medieval matriarch, Eleanor of Aquitaine reigned as England's stormiest and most ambitious queen. She ruled over France and England, and among her sons were Richard the Lion-heart and King John. She was considered the sex symbol of her age, as beautiful and she was regal, universally admired and honored by troubadours—until her ambitions led to her imprisonment.The heart of Eleanor's story is her thirst for power. A magnificent independent ruler in her own right, she lost her power when she married Louis VII of France. She received neither influence nor fame by her second marriage to King Henry II, and her husband jailed her for fifteen years for supporting their son's claim to the throne. Her husband was succeeded by their son, King Richard the Lion-heart, who immediately released his mother from prison. Eleanor then acted as Regent while Richard launched the Third Crusade.Her loveliness and glamour, her throwing-off of the constraints that shackled women of the 12th century, and her gifts as a politician and ruler make Eleanor's story one of the most colorful of the Middle Ages. Desmond Seward's classic biography presents the full pageant and intrigue-rich story of this most magnificent of princesses.
Desmond Seward was born in Paris and educated at Cambridge. He is the author of many books, including The Hundred Years War; The Wars of the Roses; Eleanor of Aquitaine; Caravagio; and The Plantagenets. He lives in England.