Eleanor of Aquitaine

28 Jan, 2016 940 History of Europe

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the life, times and influence of Eleanor of Aquitaine (c1122-1204) who was one of the most powerful women in Twelfth Century Europe, possibly in the entire Middle Ages. She inherited land from the Loire down to the Pyrenees, about a third of modern France. She married first the King of France, Louis VII, joining him on the Second Crusade. She became stronger still after their marriage was annulled, as her next husband, Henry Plantagenet became Henry II of England. Two of their sons, Richard and John, became kings and she ruled for them when they were abroad. By her death in her eighties, Eleanor had children and grandchildren in power across western Europe. This led to competing claims of inheritance and, for much of the next 250 years, the Plantagenet and French kings battled over Eleanor’s land.

Play on BBC Sounds website


  • Lindy Grant No other episodes
    Professor of Medieval History at the University of Reading
  • Nicholas Vincent 2 episodes
    Professor of Medieval History at the University of East Anglia
  • Julie Barrau No other episodes
    University Lecturer in British Medieval History at the University of Cambridge

Reading list

  • The Plantagenet Empire, 1154-1224
    Martin Aurell (Routledge, 2007) Google Books →
  • The World of Eleanor of Aquitaine: Literature and Society in Southern France between the Eleventh and Thirteenth Centuries
    Marcus Bull and Catherine Leglu (eds.) (Boydell Press, 2005) Google Books →
  • King John: New Interpretations
    S. D. Church (ed.) (Boydell Press, 1999) Google Books →
  • Queens and Queenship in Medieval Europe
    Anne Duggan (ed.) (Boydell Press, 1997) Google Books →
  • The Angevin Empire
    John Gillingham (Bloomsbury Academic, 2000) Google Books →
  • Noblewomen, Aristocracy and Power in the Twelfth-Century Anglo-Norman Realm
    Susan M. Johns (Manchester University Press, 2003) Google Books →
  • Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Four Kings
    Amy Kelly (Harvard University Press, 1950) Google Books →
  • Status, Authority and Regional Power: Aquitaine and France, 9th to 12th Centuries
    Jane Martindale (Ashgate, 1997) Google Books →
  • Richard Coeur de Lion in History and Myth
    Janet L. Nelson (ed.) (King's College Centre for Late Antique and Medieval Studies, 1992) Google Books →
  • The Historia Pontificalis of John of Salisbury
    John of Salisbury (trans. Marjorie Chibnall) (Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1956)
  • Eleanor of Aquitaine
    Ralph V. Turner (Yale University Press, 2009) Google Books →
  • A Brief History of Britain 1066-1485
    Nicholas Vincent (Robinson, 2011) Google Books →
  • Eleanor of Aquitaine, Lord and Lady
    Bonnie Wheeler and John C. Parsons (eds.) (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003) Google Books →

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Programme ID: b06yfhqk

Episode page: bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06yfhqk

Auto-category: 940.1 (Medieval History)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, Eleanor of Aquitaine was the most powerful woman in 12th century Europe, possibly in the entire Middle Ages.