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Eleanor of Aquitaine (French) Aliénor d'Aquitaine, Éléonore,  was Queen Consort of France (1137–1152) and England (1154–1189) and Duchess of Aquitaine in her own right. As a member of the Ramnulfids (House of Poiters) rulers in southwestern France, she was one of the most powerful and wealthiest women in western Europe during the High Middle Ages. She was a patron  of literary figures such as; Robert Wace,  ( c. 1110 – after 1174),  was a Norman poet,  Benoit de Sainte-Maure (wrote two historical poems, or estoires: the Roman de Troie (ca. 1165) and the Chronique des ducs de Normandie) and Bernart de Ventadorn who was a prominent troubadour of the classical age of troubadour poetry, like the rappers today but much more eloquent and literate.


  She led armies several times in her life and was a leader of the Second Crusade with the understanding that she never drew blood and her personal staff was nearly as large as the army she led. There was no question that she utilized her natural talent in the bedroom to become a feminine icon and power broker as juxtaposed to a future heroine St. Joan of Arc. Had Eleanor lived in the 21st century she no doubt would have led the vanguard of women suing all the men she bedded for sexual duress.


As Duchess of Aquitaine, Eleanor was the most eligible bride in Europe. Three months after becoming duchess upon the death of her father, William X,  she married King Louis VII of France, son of her guardian, King Louis VI. As Queen of France, she participated in the unsuccessful Second Crusade. Soon afterwards, Eleanor sought an annulment of her marriage, but her request was rejected by Pope Eugene III who ostensibly coined the phrase, "You made your bed, now sleep in it!" However, after the birth of her second daughter Alix,  Louis agreed to an annulment, as fifteen years of marriage had not produced a son. The marriage was annulled on 11 March 1152 on the grounds of consanguinity (within the same blood or origin; specifically : descended from the same ancestor in  the fourth degree.) Their daughters were declared legitimate and custody was awarded to Louis, while Eleanor's lands were restored to her. Proving once again Eleanor to be an outright whore, preferring wealth granted to her over precious blood given in child birth.


As soon as the annulment was granted, Eleanor became engaged to the Duke of Normandy (with whom she had conjugal activity during her marriage and may have fathered one of her daughters), who became King Henry II of England  in 1154. Henry was her third cousin and eleven years younger. The couple married on Whitsun, (Which is the seventh Sunday after Easter and is the name for the Christian festival of Pentecost among Anglicans) on 18 May 1152, eight weeks after the annulment of Eleanor's first marriage, in Poiter's Cathedral and the bride wore white, of course! Over the next thirteen years, she bore eight children: five sons, three of whom became kings; and three daughters. However, Henry and Eleanor eventually became estranged. Henry imprisoned her in 1173 for supporting their son Henry's revolt against him. She was not released until 6 July 1189, when Henry died and their second son, Richard the Lionheart,  ascended the throne.


As Queen Dowager, (is a title or status generally held by the widow of a king) Eleanor acted as Regent, (is a female monarch, equivalent in rank to a king, who reigns in her own right, in contrast to a queen consort, who is the wife of a reigning king, or a queen regent, who is the guardian of a child monarch and reigns temporarily in the child's stead), while Richard went on the Third Crusade; on his return Richard was captured and held prisoner. Eleanor lived well into the reign of her youngest son, John.  She outlived all her children except for John and Eleanor. But, forgive me, please...I am well ahead of my story and must provide a historical review (a bit dry) but necessary in order that my dear readers know and feel the scope of this woman's life...frankly, I loved this part of the work since I have a learning disability and must not only read but write each word in order to remember the history lesson.


            ...But For A Penis











A Historical Fiction 




                     Welby Thomas Cox, Jr.



 Eleanor of Aquitaine (noun)


1122–1204, Queen to Louis VII of France (1137–52); thereafter, Queen of Henry II of England (1154–89).

Dictionary.com Unabridged
 Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018


British Dictionary definitions for Eleanor of Aquitaine


Eleanor of Aquitaine

/ˈɛlɪnə; -ˌnɔː/



1122–1204, Queen of France (1137–52) by her marriage to Louis VII and Queen of England (1154/1189) by her marriage to Henry II; motherof the English kings Richard I (Coeur De Lion) (1189-1199) and John “Lackland” (1199-1216)



 At a time when a woman's value was measured in terms of wealth, her vivid leadership inspired and dazzled those about her. And yet, born to rule, she was continually repressed and threatened by the men who overshadowed her life. ... or, was she simply shrewd, playing the shadows with female charm which exalted a wondering clitoris and the fortune from her father ? Could she have it both ways? Was she in fact a sexual predator with a wonder clitoris?














COPYRIGHT (TXu1-309-320) 

                  2018 by Welby Thomas Cox, Jr.

All Rights Reserved

Including the right of Reproduction in whole or in Part or in any Form...permission from the Author in Writing

Jacket Art By:  Johannes Vermeer

First Printing, June, 2018

Cover Design by River Cottage Studio (Welby Thomas Cox, Jr.)

Manufactured in the United States of America

 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8

Library of Congress Cataloging-In-Publication Data Welby Thomas Cox, Jr. date March 29, 2018


          ...But For A Penis



At a time when a woman’s value was measured solely by her wealth and the number of sons she bore, Eleanor was the high-spirited, stubborn, and intelligent heiress to the vast Duchy of Aquitaine. 

Her leadership inspired the loyalty of her people, but she was continually doubted and silenced by the men who ruled beside her—the less wise but far more powerful men of the church and court who were unwilling to lose power to a woman, regardless of her rank or ability. 

Through marriages to two kings, two Crusades, and the births of twelve children (one died soon after birth) including the future King... Richard the Lionhearted... Eleanor solidified her place in history. In Eleanor the Queen, Nora Lofts brings to life a brave and complex woman who was centuries ahead of her time including the facts that she was a known philanderer while also maintaining an incestuous relationship with her Uncle Raymond, hence the title given to Eleanor by this scribe, "The Wondering Clitoris".



Dedicated to the life and memory of my beloved son, Thomas Welby Cox II, who followed his heritage as soldier and officer of the law giving his life in the line of duty. (1970-2007)

Most especially, I dedicate this book lovingly to my five wonderful daughters who gave me so much joy as they grew to be wonderful, well educated, accomplished women of the world while managing to be outstanding parents of seventeen grands.




There are few authors who are wholly original as far as their plots are concerned; indeed Shakespeare seems to have invented almost nothing, while Chaucer borrowed from both the living and the dead. And to come down to a somewhat different plane, the present writer is even more derivative, since for these books he has in generally kept doggedly to recorded actions, nourishing his fancy with log-books, dispatches, letters, memoirs and contemporary reports. But general appropriation, is, not quite the same thing as outright plagiary, and in passing it must be confessed that several passages and descriptions have been taken straight from the text of authors listed herein, whose words did not seem capable of improvement.

            ...But For A Penis





Eleanor was born in what is now southern France, most likely in the year 1122. She was well educated by her cultured father, William X, Duke of Aquitaine, thoroughly versed in literature, philosophy, and languages and trained to the rigors of court life when she became her father’s heir presumptive at the age 5. An avid horsewoman, she led an active life until she inherited her father’s title and extensive lands upon his death when she was 15, becoming in one stroke duchess of Aquitaine and by far the most eligible single young woman in Europe. She was placed under the guardianship of the king of France, and within hours was betrothed to his son and heir, Louis. The king sent an escort of 500 men to convey the news to Eleanor and transport her to her new home.


But let us fast forward some thirty odd years to see what transpired making her one of the most prolific dam's of leaders in the world for all times.


In January 1169, Henry II and Louis VII met at Montmirail in Maine to negotiate (it was hoped) a lasting peace settlement. For two years both kings had been engaged in a futile war that, while being both expensive and destructive, had gained no advantage for either. Among other matters an attempt was made to reconcile Henry with Thomas Becket, but both king and archbishop were incapable of compromise. The principal business, however, was to secure Louis’s agreement to Henry’s plans for a dynastic settlement that would divide the Angevin empire among his sons and enable him to ensure the local barons’ recognition of their right to succeed. The settlement would also help the English king to subdue rebellious vassals who, in almost every part of his French domains, had recently been so troublesome. Louis agreed readily, only too pleased to guarantee the future division of his overmighty neighbour’s empire. Eleanor, of course, was not consulted. But she must have seen in Montmirail her opportunity to overthrow her husband and to regain complete independence.


The eldest surviving Plantagenet son, Henry, was to have England, Normandy, Maine and Anjou — his father’s own inheritance — together with the overlordship of Brittany. To ensure his undisputed succession, the Capetian custom was adopted of crowning the fifteen-year-old boy king in his father’s lifetime. The coronation took place on 24 May 1170 in Westminster Abbey and was performed by the archbishop of York (Thomas Becket having refused an invitation to return to England to do so). No pomp was lacking, the crown made by the London goldsmith William Cade costing nearly forty pounds... an enormous sum for the period. His wife Margaret — Louis’s daughter — was not crowned with him, a strange and insulting omission. At the coronation banquet the old king, as he was henceforth to be known, waited on the young king. The archbishop of York commented unctuously that no prince in all the world was waited on by a king. The youth replied, ‘It is not unfitting that the son of a mere count should wait on the son of a king’. The retort tells us a good deal about the young king, who was both conceited and ungrateful. From now on he had his own household, and contemporary writers refer to him as ‘Henry III’, an eloquent testimony as to how seriously they took his kingship. It is said that Eleanor was delighted by her son’s elevation. There was, it is clear, considerable affection between her and the young king, who sometimes visited Poitiers with his wife. No doubt the queen was already working to make him her ally against the old king.


We know nothing about Eleanor’s relations with her children during their childhood. According to the custom of the age they would have been brought up away from her, first by foster-mothers and then in the households of trusted magnates, although she must have seen them all from time to time. Nevertheless it is possible that she saw more of Richard, the fourth child of her second marriage, and from a very early age, because...as the heir to Aquitaine from his cradle... he was the very center of her hopes of regaining power. From the time of Montmirail at least, when he was still only twelve, he was Eleanor’s constant companion. In view of his later reputation for homosexuality, it is not too much to suppose that the queen was one of those excessively dominant mothers who transform their sons into little lovers; and it is likely that Richard was the only man in her life and she the only woman in his.


At Montmirail Louis both recognized Richard’s claim to Aquitaine and betrothed him to Alice, his daughter by his second marriage, who was sent to England to be brought up. No doubt Eleanor rejoiced when, in that same year of 1169, king Henry ordered that Richard be proclaimed count of Poitiers; and in the summer of the following year he was consecrated as count, and recognized as future duke of Aquitaine, in a series of splendid ceremonies. At Niort he was presented to the nobles of the region, who paid homage to him. At Poitiers in the cathedral of Saint-Hilaire, before his greatest vassals, he received from the city’s bishop and the archbishop of Bordeaux the holy lance and banner of Saint-Hilaire; he was also created abbot of Saint-Hilaire. There was a third ceremony at Limoges in the abbey of Saint-Martial, where the bishop of Limoges placed on his betrothal finger the ring of St Valerie, the Roman martyr who was the city’s patron saint. All these ceremonies were accompnied by oaths sworn on the gospels and by pontifical high Masses, followed by banquets and jousting. (Gervase of Canterbury and Geoffrey of Vigé are incorrect in saying that Richard was instituted as duke of Aquitaine as well as count of Poitiers; he did not receive Aquitaine until 1179.) Eleanor had good reason to rejoice. Despite his homosexuality Richard was to prove the strongest and most worthwhile of her sons.


Geoffrey, the third surviving son, had been recognized by king Louis at Montmirail as heir to Brittany, which he would hold as a vassal of the king of England. As has been seen, he had acquired his claim to the duchy by his betrothal to the daughter of the deposed duke Conan. His position was strengthened by Conan’s death in 1170, when Henry annexed the former duke’s county of Penthièvre in Geoffrey’s name, and by the confiscation during the same year of the estates of the great Breton rebel Eudo de Porhoet. Geoffrey grew up to be one of the most evil of the Plantagenets, and once boasted that it was the tradition of his family for brother to hate brother and for a son to turn against his father. He too was to have no qualms about rebelling against Henry, which was all to Eleanor’s purpose. Like the young king, Geoffrey visited his mother’s court at Poitiers.


The fourth son, John, received nothing at Montmirail. The king laughingly named him ‘Lackland’ but obviously meant to give him some great appanage in due course...much to the disquiet of his brothers, who feared that they would have to contribute towards it from their own territories.


As for Eleanor’s daughters by Henry, Matilda married duke Henry of Saxony, one of the greatest of the German princes, in 1168; Eleanor was betrothed to Alfonso VIII of Castile in 1170; and Joanna, the youngest, married William II of Sicily in 1177. None of these girls played any part in their mother’s grand design.


Meanwhile the affair of Thomas Becket finally blew up in Henry II’s face in 1170. Although the dispute had not been settled, and despite warnings, the archbishop insisted on returning to England where he was as noisily intransigent as ever. At his Christmas court at Bures in Normandy, where Eleanor was keeping him company, Henry cursed his maddening archbishop; perhaps he did not actually say, ‘Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?’, but clearly he said something very like it. Four of his magnates... not mere knights... set out to do so. 


 Despite vain efforts to stop them by messengers whom the king sent in pursuit. On the night of Tuesday 29 December they hacked the archbishop to death in his own cathedral at Canterbury, deliberately spilling the brains out of his skull onto the pavement. The killing horrified all Christendom. Pope Alexander III would not allow Henry’s name to be mentioned in his presence for a week after hearing the news, Louis VII called him a ‘rebel against humanity’, and the count of Blois spoke of a ‘horrible … unparalleled crime’. Although Henry was not excommunicated and his kingdom was not laid under an interdict, he had to undergo many humiliations that culminated in 1174 with his being scourged at the archbishop’s tomb by the monks of Canterbury. Naturally his enemies, including Eleanor, believed that his power had been severely undermined.

Moreover at this most inauspicious time the English king appeared to be over-extending his resources by attempting to conquer Ireland, the most barbarous land in Christendom. It was ruled by countless petty kinglets or chieftains, who paid a loose allegiance to five over-kings and an elected ‘high king’, in a society very like that which existed in the Scottish Highlands before 1746. Their principal occupation was fighting and cattle raiding, but they were usually incapable of uniting against a common foe. The only towns were a few seaports founded by the Vikings and peopled by their descendants, and the island’s sole wealth was its rich pastureland; much of the country was covered by impenetrable bog and forest. 


The only exports were wolfhounds and pine marten skins. For a brief period during the Dark Ages the Irish Church had been famed for its saints and scholars, but that was now a thing of long ago... save for a few newly established Cistercian monasteries. Irish morals scandalized Christendom; bishops were frequently succeeded by their sons, and the native Brehon law recognized six sorts of marriage, most of them concubinage. The pope had almost no authority in this anarchic and savage land. Henry had contemplated invading it as early as 1155 and had obtained a grant of ‘lordship’ over Ireland from the English pope Adrian IV, whose own motive was to impose proper clerical discipline. 


For all its poverty and barbarity, its rains and mists, here plainly was another country for Normans to conquer, just as they had done in England and Sicily. From 1169 Norman marcher lords from Wales were operating in Ireland; in 1170 they captured Dublin, its richest town, and during the next year overran its eastern coast as far south as Waterford.


 King Henry had no desire to see the establishment of a new and independent Norman-Irish state that would not be subject to him. In October 1171, therefore, he landed near Waterford, remaining in Ireland until the following April and extorting homage from the Norman invaders and from many of the native kings. Although he never visited it again, he was henceforth to devote much time, effort and wealth to the conquest and settlement of Ireland.


Henry’s domains now stretched across a second sea. His vassals were some of the most unruly and turbulent in Europe ...fiery Occitanians, Poitevins and Angevins, dour Normans and English, and wild Bretons, Welsh and Irish. Hardly a day went by without rebellion in some corner of his ramshackle empire.


 Eleanor cannot be blamed for supposing that her husband had over-reached himself, and that a concerted revolt in as many areas as possible would bring the whole rickety structure of his power base crashing down. For such a revolt she required allies who had a genuine sense of grievance and who would band together in a carefully planned campaign. By 1173 the queen had them... her three eldest sons. She must have waited impatiently for them to grow old enough to join her.


Henry, the young king, was now eighteen. He was tall and handsome, charming and generous, and useless ... ‘a restless youth, born for the undoing of many’. He was unquestionably brave and energetic, and a superbly chivalrous knight; William Marshal, no mean authority, calls him ‘the beauty and flower of all Christian princes’. But he was hopelessly unstable, as inconstant ‘as wax’. Moreover, although the young king was famed for his generosity, he was ruinously extravagant, endlessly demanding money from his father, and always in debt and borrowing recklessly. Indeed Geoffrey of Vigé says bluntly that he was ‘not so much generous as prodigal’, and Robert of Torigny simply terms him ‘a spendthrift’. Admittedly his extravagance had a certain regal panache. Once he invited every knight in Normandy named William to dinner, and more than a hundred came. 


His unrestrained warmth of manner, caressing speech and wild liberality, together with his love of splendor, jousting and feasting, attracted a wide following of immature young men, the only one of any distinction being the heroic William Marshal. His protégés included that inveterate trouble-maker, Bertran de Born. Even the young king’s good qualities were spoiled by excess; he was so merciful that Gerald of Wales labels him ‘the shield of the wrongdoer’. 


The old king treated the young king with outward respect and was fond of him; in 1172 he accorded him the honor of a crown-wearing at Winchester, when his wife was consecrated queen. But although the young king was joint monarch with his father, he had no lands of his own and had to live on what he considered a shamefully inadequate allowance. The old king refused his request to let him have either England, Normandy or Anjou, and in his father’s absence England was ruled by a justiciar. Even the members of his household were chosen for him. The vain young king deeply resented what he regarded as his humiliating situation.


Richard, count of Poitou, was an advanced sixteen, tall, handsome and reddish-haired like his elder brother, but stockier and stronger in build, a better horseman and (later) an infinitely better soldier. In character he was already quite different: bold, daring, harsh, with a violent and sometimes cruel streak, prone to fits of terrible Angevin rage, touchy and unforgiving. Gerald of Wales likens him to a hammer. Although good-looking, he had his father’s ferocious, bulging grey eyes. Unlike the young king he was bored by tournaments, although he had a natural and savage taste for real warfare in which, even at this early age, he showed no mercy to his adversaries. On the other hand, he had his mother’s love of music and poetry, wrote excellent songs in both the Poitevin dialect of French and Provencal and composed tunes for them, sang in choirs and enjoyed the company of troubadours. Later Bertran de Born was to become a close friend and gave him the Provencal nickname of Oc-e-no (yea-and-nay), though he could be single-minded enough. He had a respect and affection for his mother that was probably excessive, and no doubt deep sympathy for her wrongs, imagined or otherwise; but he had little love for his father. Indeed from his youth Richard was the most formidable of Eleanor’s sons; he, too, wanted more power and more independence.


Her third son, Geoffrey, was only fifteen, though he too was precocious. Dark haired and not as tall as Henry or Richard, he was perhaps the most intelligent of the family and certainly the most untrustworthy. Benedict of Peterborough referred to him, when he had grown into a charming and thoroughly evil man, as ‘a son of iniquity and perdition’, and even as a boy Geoffrey must have been dangerous enough. He wanted to enjoy his wife’s duchy of Brittany at the earliest possible opportunity.


By 1173, therefore, Eleanor’s plan was ready. She had decided that, young as they were, her three rather alarming elder sons were capable of leading her revolt. Henry’s wife and children prepared to overthrow him.


Did You Know?

Eleanor of Aquitaine is said to be responsible for the introduction of built-in fireplaces, first used when she renovated the palace of her first husband Louis in Paris. Shocked by the frigid north after her upbringing in southern France, Eleanor’s innovation spread quickly, transforming the domestic arrangements of the time.




Louis and Eleanor were married in July 1137, but had little time to get to know one another before Louis’ father the king fell ill and died. Within weeks of her wedding, Eleanor found herself taking possession of the drafty and unwelcoming Cîté Palace in Paris that would be her new home. On Christmas  Day of the same year, Louis and Eleanor were crowned king and queen of France.


Louis and Eleanor’s first years as rulers were fraught with power struggles with their own vassals–the powerful Count Theobald of Champagne for one–and with the Pope in Rome. Louis, still young and intemperate, made a series of military and diplomatic blunders that set him at odds with the Pope and several of his more powerful lords. The conflict that ensued culminated in the massacre of hundreds of innocents in the town of Vitry—during a siege of the town, a great number of the populace took refuge in a church, which was set aflame by Louis’s troops. Dogged by guilt over his role in the tragedy for years, Louis responded eagerly to the Pope’s call for a crusade in 1145. Eleanor joined him on the dangerous–and ill fated–journey west. The crusade did not go well, and Eleanor and Louis grew increasingly estranged. After several fraught years during which Eleanor sought an annulment and Louis faced increasing public criticism, they were eventually granted an annulment on the grounds of consanguinity (being related by blood) in 1152 and separated, their two daughters left in the custody of the king.




Within two months of her annulment, after fighting off attempts to marry her off to various other high-ranking French noblemen, Eleanor married Henry, Count of Anjou and Duke of Normandy. She had been rumored to have had an affair with her new husband’s father, and was more closely related to her new husband than she had been to Louis, but the marriage went ahead and within two years Henry and Eleanor were crowned king and queen of England after Henry’s accession to the English throne upon the death of King Stephen.


Eleanor’s marriage to Henry was more successful than her first, although not lacking in drama and discord. Henry and Eleanor argued often, but they produced eight children together between 1152 and 1166. The extent of Eleanor’s role in Henry’s rule is largely unknown, although it seems unlikely that a woman of her reputed energy and education would have been wholly without influence. Nonetheless, she does not emerge again into a publicly active role until separating from Henry in 1167 and moving her household to her own lands in Poitiers. While the reasons for the breakdown of her marriage to Henry remain unclear, it can likely be traced to Henry’s increasingly visible infidelities.




Eleanor’s time as mistress of her own lands in Poitiers (1168-1173) established the legend of the Court of Love, where she is reputed to have encouraged a culture of chivalry among her courtiers that had far-reaching influence on literature, poetry, music and folklore. Although some facts about the court remain in dispute amidst centuries of accumulated legend and myth, it seems that Eleanor, possibly accompanied by her daughter Marie, established a court that was largely focused on courtly love and symbolic ritual that was eagerly taken up by the troubadours and writers of the day and promulgated through poetry and song. This court was reported to have attracted artists and poets, and to have contributed to a flowering of culture and the arts. But to whatever extent such a court existed, it appears not to have survived Eleanor’s later capture and imprisonment, which effectively removed her from any position of power and influence for the next 16 years.




In 1173, Eleanor’s son “Young” Henry fled to France, apparently to plot against his father and seize the English throne. Eleanor, rumored to be actively supporting her son’s plans against her estranged husband, was arrested and imprisoned for treason. Once apprehended, she spent the next 16 years shuttled between various castles and strongholds in England, suspected of agitating against her husband’s interests and said by some to have played a role in the death of his favorite mistress, Rosamund. After years of rebellion and revolt, Young Henry finally succumbed to disease in 1183 and died, begging on his deathbed for his mother’s release. Henry released her, under guard, to allow her to return to England in 1184, after which she rejoined his household at least for part of each year, joining him on solemn occasions and resuming some of her ceremonial duties as queen.




Henry II died in July 1189 and their son Richard succeeded him; one of his first acts was to free his mother from prison and restore her to full freedom. Eleanor ruled as regent in Richard’s name while he took over for his father in leading the Third Crusade, which had barely begun when Henry II died. On the conclusion of the crusade, Richard (known as Richard the Lionheart) returned to England and ruled until his death in 1199. Eleanor lived to see her youngest son, John, crowned king after Richard’s death, and was employed by John as an envoy to France. She would later support John’s rule against the rebellion of her grandson Arthur, and eventually retire as a nun to the abbey at Fontevraud, where she was buried upon her death in 1204.



All the characters in this novel are fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons, whether living or dead, is entirely coincidental...except for those individuals listed as a part of the index who are believed to have lived at some time in their lives, or pretended to do so!





I                              In The Beginning

II​                             Who Was William X

III                            The Middle Ages

IV                            The Haunting Sea

V                              In The Tower

VI                            The Middle Ages

VII                           The Dream Series

VIII                          gods vs. heathens

IX                             The Dream Series Continues

X                              The Second Crusade

XI                             Infamous Acts

XII                           The Uncommon Commonality

XIII                          Who Was Hubert Walter

XIV                          Bluebeard

XV                           St. Joan of Arc

XVI                         French Culture

XVII                       George Bernard Shaw

XVIII                     Saint Joan, The Play

XIX                        The Quarrel Over Medieval Age               


The Norman Conquest


In 1066, William Duke of Normandy invaded England and made good his claim to be King of England as well as Duke of Normandy. He had the claim due to an earlier marriage between the two royal families. The Bayeux tapestry, a remarkable piece of embroidery, depicts the epic battle at Hastings in cartoon-like form. William brought much of his French speaking court to England with him, assigning titles and landholdings in return for financial support and local influence as well as political muscle. The influence of French on the local language was considerable, and is a dividing line between Old English and Middle English. It was at this time that the English language adopted many Latin terms, via French. In an attempt to discover more about his new possessions, William ordered the creation of the Domesday Book, which listed every parcel of land in England, noting its extent and its value, its production and its ownership. This is an extremely valuable legacy and record for medieval English affairs. The Norman Conquest also embroiled England and France in wars for the next several centuries, since the King of England had holdings in France.


The Battle of Manzikert


In 1071, the Byzantine emperor Romanus IV Diogenes was defeated in battle at Manzikert which lies in eastern Anatolia, by a band of Seljuk Turks. The loss cost him a little territory and reputation…but that was all. However this was significant because the loss marks the arrival of the Turks into what has now become known as Turkey. The Turks were originally from central Asia and migrated westward in large numbers. Their presence was felt by the Byzantine Empire and by some of the Moslems of the Near East. It was the Byzantine Empire which lost much of its territory to the new invader, however, most of Asia Minor (todays Turkey) would soon be under their control, and the successor dynasty, the Ottoman Empire, took Constantinople itself in 1453, which ended the Roman Empire in the east. The Ottoman Empire controlled most of the Middle East until 1918. It isn’t surprising that the Turks western movement into Christianity territory played a significant role in the conversion to Islam, a religion which remains dominant in Turkey today.


The Investiture Controversy


Four Popes since Pope Saint Leo IX in 1049 had been under the wise counsel of a holy man who the newly-formed College of Cardinals finally realized was the only choice for supreme pontiff upon the death of Pope Alexander II on April 21, 1073. Thus, the next morning the holy man Hildebrand, the monk from Tuscany, who had greatly influenced the curia in the reform movement as secretary to five popes, was unanimously selected as the one hundred and fifty seventh successor to Peter. Hildebrand chose the name Pope Gregory VII in deference to the last Gregory Pope Gregory VI who had bestowed minor orders on the young Hildebrand as the new pontiff's mentor in 1046. During his years as mentor to the Popes this saintly and knowing monk had played a vital role in the establishment of two of the Church's great mainstays which exist today in the governmental aspect of episcopal affairs: Canon Law and the College of Cardinals. 


Though he was chosen on April 22, 1073, it's interesting to note that the new Gregory purposely delayed his consecration until June 30. This was not, as many surmised, for the purpose of receiving the German imperial blessing, but rather Gregory's own desire to wait for the feast of Saints Peter and Paul for Hildebrand had a deep veneration toward these two special Apostles. With this feast accomplished, Gregory set into motion a program of reform that was far and beyond any curriculum his successors had proposed.


 Despite his wise counsel to the popes who went before him, Gregory could not fully implement the reforms until he had total command of the curia. Now that he was in charge he defined the true papal role in the Church as it had never been done before. It was his life-long crusade to rid the church of all evils that existed and restore Holy Mother Church to her ancient stature as the glorious leader of Christian morals. He realized his reforms would be met with resistance, especially for those with imperial allegiances, but he was prepared for that as well. 


Gregory VII issued a decree that pure doctrine could only be conveyed and preserved through governmental law within the Church and all of the laws of the Church must be collected into a concise volume termed the Dictatus Papae for all the clergy to not only follow, but disseminate to the faithful. 


At the forefront of this reform was the fact that total obedience to Holy Mother Church was paramount for every Catholic in the world. He reiterated that the supreme pontiff of Rome is universal and that no one can judge him, but that the pope alone can dispense vows. In 1074 and again the next year Gregory held two Lenten synods in which he implemented many of these reforms as well as setting down stringent standards for "the purification of the higher clergy." 


As expected, Germany and France resisted, (This attitude has continued to transcend the generations into the current state-of-indifference in the structure of NATO and the G-7) many of their bishops balking at the strict measures on celibacy laid out. Over the years, especially in those two western lands, many unworthy men had been ordained and were not only not leading exemplary lives, but taking the faithful down the wrong road. (hmmm, sound familar?)


 But Gregory VII was a man defined by his moral judgment and principals. Buoyed by the strength of the Holy Spirit to see him through this ordeal, Gregory was ready for their onslaught and held another Roman synod in which he threatened suspension of any bishop who did not comply fully with Rome. He employed Papal legates to ensure they were in full compliance and new bishops had to take an episcopal oath of loyalty. He also insisted that all bishops make a mandatory visit to the Holy See in Rome at specific intervals, a practice that still remains today in the ad limina visits of all bishops. Gregory set up the Lateran synods in a format that would evolve into general councils in the future.


A tumultuous crowd of Roman citizens and clergy raised Hildebrand to the papacy during the funeral solemnities for Pope Alexander II on April 22, 1073. He was enthroned immediately in the basilica of San Pietro in Vincoli even though he was not ordained a priest until June 29, the feast day of the apostles Peter and Paul, the patron saints of the Apostolic See and the city of Rome. Hildebrand’s elevation by the combination of citizens and clergy was a hostile reaction to the reordering of the papal election order at the 1059 Lateran Council, which had given the cardinal-bishops the leading voice in papal elections. The Roman people and clergy had been disenfranchised by the order, which thus ended the domination of the papacy by various Roman factions. Hildebrand’s election, however, followed the ancient rules that had been prominently upheld in the canonical collection of Deusdedit, cardinal-priest of San Pietro in Vincoli.


Hildebrand took the name Gregory in memory of Gregory I whose writings greatly influenced him. Gregory VII interpreted his election as a special call by God to continue unhesitatingly the fight for what he described as iustitia (“justice”), meaning the restoration of the church to what Gregory and his collaborators saw as its proper place in the world order. Indeed, they intended to revive the church’s ancient splendor and unquestioned leadership as instituted by Christ when he founded the church on the rock that was St. Peter (Matthew 16:18). Gregory was convinced that the pope was the living successor and representative of St. Peter. Because of this link, the pope, and he alone, would always remain a true Christian, never deviating from the faith and always cognizant  of the will of God. Therefore, all Christians owed him absolute and unquestioned obedience. Disobedience was regarded as heresy, and obedience to God became obedience to the papacy.


Gregory linked the battle against simony and for clerical celibacy...the chief characteristics of 11th-century ecclesiastical reform (with a marked emphasis on the papal primacy,  a concept based on the primacy of the Roman church, which at the time of Leo IX in 1054 led to the break in diplomatic relations between Rome and Constantinople. Papal primacy included the subordination of all secular governments to papal authority as long as they were Christian, but it applied first of all to the ecclesiastical hierarchy.


 Gregory’s chancery revived and strengthened an oath of obedience that was required of all archbishops and bishops. Outranking every local authority, his legates intervened freely in internal diocesan affairs throughout Latin Christendom. Bishops had traditionally governed their dioceses more or less independently, and the changes introduced and systematized by Gregory VII were most unwelcome among all ranks of the clergy, including the highborn bishops, especially in Germany. The lower clergy in France and Germany also rebelled, but in this case against draconian decrees designed to enforce priestly celibacy.


On the basis of decisions by Leo IX and the Lateran synod of 1059, Gregory did not hesitate to call for popular rebellions against disobedient bishops that flew in the face of ancient Cannon Law prohibiting inferiors (especially laymen but also clergy of a lower rank) from judging or accusing their superiors. Gregory created havoc in the French church when he established a new dignity, the primacy of Lyons, subjecting the prominent archbishops of Sens, Rouen, and Tours to its authority. Only the archbishop of Tours, a close friend of Gregory VII, willingly recognized the new “primate,” Hugh of Die. In general, Gregory insisted that canon law should be upheld, but he also ascribed to the pope alone the right to issue new laws if required by contemporary needs.


In the case of the primate of Lyons, Gregory was misled by a collection of Canon Law (Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals) which, unknown to him, had been forged in the 9th century. This forgery had introduced the concept of Primate, with poorly defined functions designed to protect bishops from interference by their superiors, the archbishops. 


Gregory VII used it in an attempt to supervise the French bishops constantly and more closely, for the primate of Lyons also served as his standing legate. Not surprisingly, Gregory’s functioning regimen aroused opposition and hostility among bishops in northern Italy and Germany especially, but also in France. On the other hand, a large extent of the English church was left to the government of William I and Archbishop Lanfranc of Canterbury.


Fortunately, Gregory’s pontificate can be evaluated not only on the basis of the often-polemical writings of his contemporaries but also in the light of a previous official source, his original register. It contains numerous letters and general notes as well as numerous excerpts from the councils that Gregory held regularly in Rome. In addition, there are charters for monasteries and bishoprics as well as his letters and conciliar decrees, which survived outside the register in the hands of their recipients or in canonical collections.


 Nonetheless, it is not easy to interpret this documentation because only a small percentage of his correspondence was included in the register and the selection criteria are unknown. Moreover, it was customary to supplement the most important points of a letter with oral messages.


The famous Dictatus Papae (“Dictates of the Pope”), however, is part of the register. It consists of 27 brief and pointed declarations that extol papal primacy and even includes the radical claim that the pope had the right to depose emperors. Scholars agree that Gregory was the author of these assertions and that the Dictatus strikingly reveals his unflinching vision of papal primacy, even though the sources and purpose of the Dictatus are still in dispute.




Gregory VII had an astute grasp of political realities and was always willing to take them into account, provided they fit in with his own reform efforts. Papal territorial claims intensified markedly. He was the first pope to try to contact every ruler of his time, asserting the over lordship of the apostle Peter—that is, of the papacy—in several regions of Europe. The most successful example of the use of feudal arrangements by the papacy—Norman greed notwithstanding—was the alliance with the Norman leaders of southern Italy, concluded with Richard of Capua in 1073 and Robert Guiscard in 1059. Their obligations included fealty to the pope and his legitimate successors as well as military and financial aid. In return, the pope became their overlord and invested them with the imperial and Byzantine-Muslim territories which they had conquered or would conquer.


 In Spain, Croatia-Dalmatia, Denmark, Hungary, the kingdom of Kiev, Brittany, Poland, and Bohemia, as well as in England, Gregory tried to assert over lordship, mostly unsuccessfully. William I of England, whose invasion of 1066 Hildebrand had supported, refused outright the oath Gregory requested, although he resumed the Anglo-Saxon payment of Peter's Pence (annual contribution to the pope). Except in southern Italy, areas of northern Spain, and the islands of Sicily, Corsica, and Sardinia, Gregory’s attempts to expand the role of the papacy met with little success.


Direct papal intervention in the appointment of bishops created severe tensions in France and even more so in Germany, which, with Burgundy and much of Italy, constituted what would later be called the Holy Roman Empire. 


As early as December 1073, Gregory called King Phillip I of France (reigned 1059/60–1108) the worst of all princely tyrants oppressing the church because the king refused to invest a canonically elected bishop with the secular properties and rights of the bishopric. This controversy was inspired by Gregory’s vision of proper canonical elections, which meant election by the clergy and populace of a diocese without any interference from secular rulers of any rank. 


Election was then a flexible term and should not be confused with the modern concept of democratic election. It was accepted as self-evident that the Holy Spirit should speak through the most influential members of a community, be it a diocese or abbey. This was a strong contrast to traditions that had prevailed for many centuries. Royal nominations to bishoprics and abbeys agreed to by representatives of the respective diocese had constituted an important part of royal authority at the time, and Gregory’s insistence on the elimination of secular influence threatened the very existence of the kingdoms. This, at least, was the conviction of Emperor Henry IV. 


Philip of France also turned a deaf ear to papal commands, even when the pope threatened excommunication and interdict in December 1073 and a year later announced that he would do everything in his power to depose Philip. But the French bishops refused to make common cause with Gregory, and Philip’s reign continued. His quarrels with the pope were smoothed over, and both parties were able to compromise without loss of face.


This was not the case with regard to Henry IV and the empire, even though there were no signs of the coming conflict at the outset of Gregory’s pontificate. Gregory recognized that Henry IV would soon be emperor and always thought very highly of Henry’s parents, Henry III and Agnes.


 The pope suggested in a letter of December 1074 that Henry protect Rome and the Roman church during a papal expedition to the Holy Land that he wished to lead in the company of Empress Agnes and Countess Matilda of Tuscany. He relied on Henry’s cooperation as well when he tried to bend the German bishops to his wishes and asked the king to order them to appear at his Roman synods.


 By December 1075, however, Gregory’s attitude had changed. By letter and messenger (who may have threatened excommunication orally), the pope harshly blamed Henry IV for not negotiating in good faith and for having made royal appointments to the Italian bishoprics of Milan, Fermo, and Spoleto in accordance with old customs, which Gregory abhorred and ordered abolished. He also reproached Henry for continued contact with five of his advisers who had been excommunicated earlier by the pope. Contact with excommunicated persons automatically entailed excommunication for the offender.


On January 24, 1076, at the imperial assembly of Worms, Henry IV and the vast majority of the German bishops replied in even harsher terms to Gregory’s letter and oral message. The bishops renounced their obedience to “Frater Hildebrand,” and the king called on Gregory to abdicate the papacy and permit the Romans to elect a new pope.


 Northern Italian bishops immediately joined the action and renounced their support for Gregory. The letters reached Gregory during the customary Lenten synod (February 14–20, 1076), and the outraged pope reacted immediately, using a prayer to Peter to depose and excommunicate Henry. In the same prayer, Gregory also absolved all of Henry’s subjects of their oath of fealty to the king.


 The effect of the excommunication was tremendous. Never before had a pope deposed a king, even though Gregory, according to a later letter, believed that he had historical precedents on his side, an assumption that even contemporaries considered untenable and a distortion of historical truth. Then as now, the deposition of Henry IV was the most hotly debated action taken by Gregory VII, who pursued to its logical conclusion his conviction that papal primacy pertained not only to the spiritual sphere but to the secular sphere as well. Church reform now became a contest for dominance between the priestly and the royal powers as they struggled to replace the Carolingian vision of mutual collaboration in which the church was entrusted to the monarchy for safekeeping.


In Germany Gregory’s action strengthened princely as well as episcopal opposition to Henry in a civil war that raged intermittently throughout his reign. In order to save his crown, Henry IV submitted to the pope at the castle of Canossa on January 28, 1077. Countess Matilda of Tuscany and Abbot Hugh of Cluny, Henry’s godfather, had interceded for him. Gregory acted as a pastor of souls when he reconciled  the king with the church, but Henry’s footfall nonetheless was an implicit recognition of papal claims. The encounter at Canossa had interrupted Gregory’s journey to Augsburg  (now in Germany), where he was to meet German princes who had planned to elect a new ruler in opposition to Henry IV. Despite Gregory’s absolution of Henry and return to Rome, the princes proceeded with their plan. Their nominee, Rudolf of Rheinfelden, was elected (anti-)king on March 15, 1077.


The quarrel between Henry and Gregory intensified after the pope formally prohibited Lay Investiture at the council of November 1078. Investiture was the customary ceremony in which the emperor or king bestowed upon the bishops the ring and staff, the symbols of their office as well as of royal authority in and protection of the church. Nevertheless, Gregory at first tried to arbitrate between Henry and Rudolf, but he excommunicated Henry for a second time at the Lenten synod of 1080 and formally recognized Rudolf as king. However, after the absolution of Canossa, Henry had reasserted himself. The new excommunication had little effect, and the king was victorious in the civil war. Following the formal deposition of Gregory VII under the aegis of Henry IV by the synod of Brixen in June 1080 and the nomination of Archbishop Wibert of Ravenna as pope, Henry marched on Rome, supported by German and, especially, Italian troops. The Eternal City was finally captured in March 1084, when the Romans, including many cardinals and other clergy, opened the gates to Henry and his army. They had deserted the papal cause in response to Gregory’s inflexibility. Wibert was enthroned as anti-pope Clement III, and Henry IV was crowned emperor. Gregory VII had at first sought refuge in the Castel Saint' Angelo but in July fled with his Norman liberators to Salerno, where he died on May 25, 1085. According to tradition, his last words were a paraphrase of a passage from Psalm 44, “I have loved righteousness and hated iniquity, and therefore I die in exile.”




It might appear that Gregory was less successful as pope than he had been as a papal adviser, for, in the course of his bitter conflict with Emperor Henry IV, he was defeated. Apart from the court of Matilda of Tuscany, where his legend lived on, Gregory was soon forgotten, and he was not canonized until 1606. The history of the papacy and of the church, however, was profoundly influenced by him. His staunch advocacy of clerical celibacy and repudiation of simony reshaped the church and helped establish the ideals of the reformers as the standard for the church. Moreover, papal primacy cannot be imagined without Gregory. In his lifetime he attempted to translate his own religious experience with its mystical core into historical reality. Concepts that he grasped intuitively were elaborated on legally and theoretically in the 12th and 13th centuries and resulted in what is known as the papal monarchy.



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Welby Thomas Cox, Jr.

The software will not permit me to edit my work...since I am new to this process perhaps someone is able to tell me how to get into specific area. It is also strange how the software forces a style which really doesn't work for me.
Pat Cox

In The Beginning

The fog enveloped the distance...objects beyond its shapeless protection remained suspended in the magic of Bordeaux, veiled as in animation. Soon from the east a ray would slice the grey opalescence...and in time the truth would shine as brightly as the morning sun on this June day of 1137.


He was there after moving deliberately but with caution, at the foot of the tower, and there he stood, like David...wondering, measuring before engagement. From his pocket he withdrew a cold, round, smooth grey stone. He looked at the top of the tower and thought it impossible to hit the hole where he knew the stone must go. But this was a mission fringed in magic, and like David...there would be no second chance if he missed his target.


His aim was flawless, his strength propelling and the stone sailed high and through the hole. Only time would tell...now, as he waited with emotion crowding his throat like the rain which was due last Thursday, and he knew it would come in a gush... and, then his fingers stroked another round stone. Surely he thought, I will miss if I must try another? His thoughts went to why he must experience this bitter task. Then without warning a door creaked near him and a shadow motioned the young man to make haste as a voice bade him well but with eyes only!


The girl at the door placed her hand over his mouth and whispered,


"Speak softly, there are ears in these walls!" She closed the heavy door and prayed it would not squeak and amplify the stillness of the night. Mercifully, it swung silently on the hinges but she failed to replace the weighty metal cross-bar, there for her security.


Certainly, the ears in these walls went back to the far distant time and this part of the original castle. A time when the Roman occupation of Acquitaine had formed the primary approach to the lookout turret at the top of the tower; for the past two hundred seventy-five years to around 850, the steps had been used only by those on a secret errand...but delivery to those restrained here, in this dreaded place, must first endure the eighty-four steps carried on the tapered limbs of lovers and assassins alike. By steadfast men on dangerous but hollowed missions...by dedicated men carrying coded documents from popes, kings and captains of armies and to Dukes of Acquitaine or the lady who now pushed the young man toward the final step around the last curve, and the chance to catch a breath of anything but the stale void of its impenetrable antiquity tinged with the memory of good men and honest women, wronged by tyrants and fools. (Not unlike federal judges, today)


At the top of the winding staircase where each footfall fell into the hollow carved into the stone by boots hastening them to certain death if caught...it ended at the doorway, always locked and hidden by drapes within arms reach of a bed near the Duke's chamber. Tonight, on this occasion, the door was ajar and as young Richard de Vaux he could see  a sharp streak of light from afar. Soon, he was in the room from whence the light came and there was a sweetness as he took in a mighty breath as though he had been too long beneath the sea and his lungs screamed in unison at the relief for the God given fresh air. He waited at the door, as any gentleman and Eleanor moved graciously through the door. Richard stepped into the room and left the door partially opened.


"You must leave quickly," she implored, "So please leave the door open...that we might hear anyone approaching from that door across the way." She nodded toward a closed door across the room. "If you hear a sound, make haste Richard...do not wait an invitation to your death, certain to come after an acknowledgement of the secret I hold for your ears tonight...your life will be less than dust into which it will turn."


"What is this of which you speak? And what is it which caused you to beckon me in such haste. Eleanor, why did you call for me in such a clandestine manner? I have longed to see you...but time has clouded the distance between us." He took her hand and touched it gently to his lips. He wanted more of that which he had dreamed might be possible had time not interfered but now instead of sweet nothings, she spoke of danger. "Please Eleanor!" He asked sternly.

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Who was William X


Historical Review


William X (Guillém X in Occitan) (1099 – 9 April 1137), called the Saint, was Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, and Count of Poitou (as William VIII) from 1126 to 1137. He was the son of  William IX by his second wife, Philippa of Toulouse.

William was born in Toulouse during the brief period when his parents ruled the capital. His birth is recorded in the Chronicle of Saint-Maixent in the year 1099: Willelmo comiti natus est filius, equivoce Guillelmus vocatus ("a son was born to Count William, named William like himself"). Later that same year, much to Philippa's ire, Duke William IX mortgaged Toulouse to Philippa's cousin, Bertrand of Toulouse, and then left on Crusade.


Philippa and her infant son William X were left in Poitiers. When Duke William IX returned from his unsuccessful crusade, he took up with another woman named Dangerose, the wife of a vassal, and set aside his rightful wife, Philippa. This caused strain between father and son, until 1121 when William X married Aenor de Chatellerault, a daughter of his father's mistress Dangerose by her first husband, Aimery. William had three children with Aenor.


He possibly had one natural son, William. For a long time it was thought that he had another natural son called Joscelin and some biographies still erroneously state this fact, but Joscelin has been shown to be the brother of Adeliza of Louvain. The attribution of Joscelin as a son of William X has been caused by a mistaken reading of the Pipe Rolls which are documemts pertaining to the reign of Henry II, where 'brother of the queen' has been taken as Queen Eleanor, when the queen in question is actually Adeliza of Louvain. William, called of Poitiers in the Pipe Rolls may have been a half brother of Eleanor. Chronicler John of Salisbury tells us that Petronilla died in 1151 or 1152, after which her husband Raoul of Vermandois briefly remarried.


William administered his Aquitaine duchy as both a lover of the arts and a warrior. He became involved in conflicts with Normandy (nee England) (which he raided in 1136, in alliance with Geoffrey V. Count of Anjou who claimed it in his wife's name) and for France. 


Even inside his borders, William faced an alliance of the Lusignans and the Parthenays against him, an issue resolved with total destruction of the enemies. In international politics, William X initially supported anti-pope Anacletus II in the papal schism of 1130, opposite to Pope Innocent III, against the will of his own bishops. In 1134, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux convinced William to drop his support for Anacletus and join Innocent III.


In 1137 William joined the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, but he died during the trip. On his deathbed, he expressed his wish to see King Louis VI of France as protector of his fifteen-year-old daughter Eleanor, and to find her a suitable husband. Louis VI naturally accepted this guardianship and married the heiress of Aquitaine to his own son, Louis VII.


What was the historical line?


For many generations the fate of the Counts of Toulouse was intimately tied to that of the Dukes of Aquitaine.


William IX, Duke of Aquitaine (the Troubadour) (October 22, 1071 - February 10, 1126)


 Guilhèm IX duc d'Aquitània e de Gasconha, Guilhèm VII comte de Peitieus.


 Guilaume IX duc d'Aquitaine


William IX was Duke of Aquitaine and Gascony and Count of Poitou between 1086 and 1126. He was the son of William VIII of Aquitaine by his third wife Hildegarde of Burgundy. He inherited the duchy at the age of fifteen. In 1088, at the age of sixteen, William married his first wife, Ermengarde of Anjou (the daughter of Count Fulk, "Fulk the Contrary"). Ermengarde was pretty and well-educated but suffered from extreme mood-swings. This, coupled with her failure to conceive a child, led William to send her back to her father and have the marriage dissolved in 1091.


In 1094 William married Philippa of Toulouse, the daughter and heiress of Guilhem (William) IV of Toulouse. (Phillipa had been recently widowed by the death of her first husband, Sancho Ramírez of Aragon). William had two sons and five daughters by Philippa, including William's heir, another William later to become William X of Aquitaine, Eleanor's father.


Pope Urban II spent Christmas 1095 at the court of William IX. The pope urged him to take the cross and leave for the Holy Land, but William was more interested in the territories of the Counts of Toulouse, to which the Dukes of Aquitaine believed they had a long standing claim, now bolstered by William's marriage to Philippa. He took advantage of the absence of Raymond IV Count of Toulouse, his wife's uncle, to press his claim to Toulouse. Urban was not convinced, so without the help of the Church, William and Philippa captured Toulouse in 1098, an act for which they were threatened with excommunication. Partly out of a desire to avoid this, William joined the Crusade of 1101 an expedition inspired by the success of the First Crusade in 1099. To fund this he mortgaged Toulouse to Bertrand of Toulouse, the son of Raymond IV. He arrived in the Holy Land in 1101 and stayed there until the following year. William fought mostly skirmishes in Anatolia without notable success. His recklessness led to his army being ambushed on several occasions. In September 1101 his entire army was destroyed by the Turks at Heraclea; William himself barely escaped and, according to Orderic Vitalis, he reached Antioch with only six surviving companions.


William was excommunicated twice, the first time in 1114 for an alleged infringement of the Church's tax privileges. He was excommunicated a second time for abducting Viscountess Dangereuse (Occitan Dangerosa), the wife of his vassal Aimery I de Rochefoucauld, Viscount of Châtellerault, (I thought it should be said that Dangerosa herself seems to have been a willing party according to my research). William installed her in the Maubergeonne tower of his castle in Poitiers, which lead to her nickname 'La Maubergeonne'). Returning to Poitiers from Toulouse, Philipa was enraged to discover Dangerosa living in her palace. Humiliated, Philippa left in 1116 to retire to the Abbey of Fontevraud, where she was befriended by William's first wife Ermengarde of Anjou,. According to the abbey records Philippa died there on the 28th of November 1118.


Relations between the Duke and his elder son William also became strained. Father and son improved their relationship, however, after the marriage of the younger William to Aenor of Châtellerault in 1121. (To close the family circle, Aenor was the daughter of Dangerosa and her lawful husband Aimery I de Rochefoucauld, Viscount of Châtellerault)


After Phillipa's death, Ermengarde, William's first wife, stormed down from Abbey at Fontevraud to the Aquitainian court. She demanded to be reinstated as the Duchess of Aquitaine. In October 1119, she popped up at the Council of Reims, presided over by Pope Calixtus II, demanding that the Pope excommunicate William (though he was already excommunicated), oust Dangereuse from the ducal palace, and restore her (Erningarde) to her rightful place. The Pope declined to accommodate her, and William's existing excommunication was lifted in 1220, but she continued to trouble William for several years afterwards, which may have contributed to his decision to join the armies fighting the Moors in Spain. William joined forces with the kingdoms of Castile and León. Between 1120 and 1123, Aquitanian troops fought side by side with Queen Urraca of Castile, in an effort to conquer the Moors of Cordoba and complete the Reconquista.


In 1122, he lost Toulouse, Philippa's dower land and now rightfully the domain of his eldest son, to Alphonse Jordan of Toulouse.


William added to the palace of the counts of Poitou which had stood since the Merovingian Era. Later added to by his granddaughter Eleanor of Aquitaine. It survives as the Palace of Justice in Poitiers to the present day. (Imagine that, a thousand years and we demolish buildings which are less than fifty years of age in America, the throw-away society.)


William's greatest legacy to history was as a poet. He was the first known Troubadour, or lyric poet employing the Occitan language. Eleven of his songs survive. They are attributed to him under his title as Count of Poitou (lo coms de Peitieus). The topics vary, treating sex, love, women, his own sexual prowess, and feudal politics. He is among the first Romance poets of the Middle Ages, one of the founders of the troubadour tradition.


His frankness, wit and vivacity caused scandal and won admiration at the same time. William was a man who loved scandal and no doubt enjoyed shocking his audiences. He composed a song about founding a convent in his lands, where the nuns would be picked from among the most beautiful whores in the region, depending on the translation. By most standards he can fairly be described as a character. An anonymous 13th century biography of William, forming part of the collection Biographies des Troubadours, remembers him as follows:

[William] The Count of Poitiers was one of the most courtly men in the world and one of the greatest deceivers of women. He was a fine knight at arms, liberal in his womanizing, and a fine composer and singer of songs. He traveled much through the world, seducing women.


William X, Duke of Aquitaine "the Saint" (1099 – April 9, 1137)

 Guilhèm X duc d'Aquitània e de Gasconha, Guilhèm VIII comte de Peitieus

 Guilaume X duc d'Aquitaine

William was Duke of Aquitaine and Gascony and Count of Poitiers as William VIII of Poitiers between 1126 and 1137.


William was born in Toulouse during the brief period when his parents ruled the capital. Later that same year, 1126, his father William IX mortgaged Toulouse to his wife's cousin, Bertrand of Toulouse. His wife, Philippa of Toulouse was less than pleased, and less pleased still when he then left on Crusade. Philippa and her infant son were left in Poitiers.


Long after William IX's return, he took up with the wife of one of his vassals, and set aside his wife, Philippa. This caused strain between father and son, although the strife seems to have been resolved when the younger William married Ænor of Châtellerault (the daughter of his father's mistress) in 1121. The couple had three children:


Aliaenor, or Eleanor, who would later become heiress to the Duchy;

Aelith ( aka Petronilla), who married Raoul I of Vermandois;

William Aigret, who died young.

William's wife Ænor and their son William Aigret both died in 1130.


Like his father before him, William X was a patron of troubadour music and literature. He was an educated man and gave his two daughters an excellent education. One example of the gap between the sophisticated culture of Occitania and the rest of western Christendom (It was rare enough to give boys a good education, and generally considered "unnatural" and even blasphemous to educate girls. Senior churchmen objected loudly and often).


William became involved in conflicts with Normandy and France. Inside his own borders he faced an alliance of the Lusignans and the Parthenays against him, happily resolved by total destruction of the enemies.


In 1137, Duke William X set out from Poitiers to Bordeaux, taking his daughters with him. In Bordeaux, he left Eleanor and Petronilla in the charge of the Archbishop of Bordeaux who could be entrusted with the safety of the Duke's daughters. The Duke then set out for the Shrine of Saint James of Compostela in North-western Spain, in the company of other pilgrims; however, on 9th April (Good Friday) 1137 he was stricken with sickness, probably food poisoning. He died that evening, having bequeathed Aquitaine to his fifteen-year-old daughter, Eleanor. On his deathbed, he expressed his wish to have King Louis VI of France as protector of Eleanor, and to charge him with finding her a suitable husband. Louis VI, putting his own interests first, as ever, married Eleanor the new Duchess of Aquaitaine to his own son, also called Louis, later King Louis VII.

Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122–April 1, 1204)

 Aliénor d'Aquitània, 

 Eléanor d'Aquitaine)


Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the most powerful women in Europe during the High Middle Ages. She was Queen consort in turn of both France and England and took part in the Second Crusade. Her father was William X Duke Aquaitaine,  and her mother was Aenor de Châtellerault, the daughter of Aimeric I, Vicomte of Chatellerault. William's and Aenor's marriage had been arranged by his father, William IX of Aquitaine "the Troubadour", and her mother, Dangereuse, William IX's long-time mistress. (The apple doesn't fall far from the tree) Eleanor was named after her mother and called Aliénor, which means "another Aenor" in Occitan, but she is better known by variations of her name (Eleanor,  Eléanor).


Eleanor was the eldest of three children. She was raised in one of Europe's most cultured courts, the birthplace of courtly love. By all accounts, Eleanor was the apple of her father's eye, who made sure she had the best education possible: she could read, speak Latin, and was well-versed in music and literature. She also enjoyed riding, hawking, and hunting. Eleanor was very outgoing and stubborn. She was regarded as very beautiful during her time; most likely she was red-haired and brown-eyed as her father and grandfather were. After the death of her brother, William Aigret, at age 4, along with their mother she became heiress to Aquitaine and 7 other counties, She had only one other sibling, a younger sister named Aelith in Occitan, but more commonly known by the name of Petronilla.


About the age of 15 Eleanor became the Duchess of Aquitaine, and the most eligible heiress in Europe. As these were the days when kidnapping an heiress was seen as a viable option for attaining title, William had dictated a will on the very day he died on his way to Compostella in Spain, bequeathing his domains to Eleanor and appointing King Louis VI "the Fat" as her guardian. He requested that the King take care of both the lands and the Duchess, and to find a suitable husband for Eleanor. Until a husband was found, the King had the right to enjoy Eleanor's lands. The Duke also insisted to his companions that his death be kept a secret until Louis was informed - the men were to journey from Saint James across the Pyrenees as quickly as possible, to call at Bordeaux to notify the Archbishop, and then to make all speed to Paris, to inform the French King.


The King of France himself was also gravely ill at that time, suffering from dysentery from which he seemed unlikely to recover. Presenting a solemn and dignified manner to the grieving Aquitainian messengers, upon their departure he became overjoyed, stammering in delight. Rather than act as guardian to the Duchess and Duchy, he decided, he would marry the Duchess to his heir, and bring Aquitaine under the French crown, thereby greatly increasing the power and prominence of France and the Capets. Within hours Louis had arranged for his son, Prince Louis, to be married to Eleanor. Abbot Suger was charged with arranging the wedding.


Prince Louis was sent to Bordeaux with an escort of 500 knights. He arrived in Bordeaux on 11 July and the next day, accompanied by the Archbishop of Bordeaux, the couple was married in the cathedral of Saint-André in Bordeaux. It was a magnificent ceremony with almost a thousand guests. The land would remain independent of France, and Eleanor's oldest son would be both King of France and Duke of Aquitaine. Her holdings would not therefore be merged with France until the next generation.


Eleanor was not popular with the French who were, to put it as generously as possible, at an earler stage of civilisation. They were not accustomed to string minded and highly educated women, let alone pretty young ones. Her conduct was repeatedly criticised by Church leaders such as Bernard of Clairvaux and Abbot Suger. The King, however, was madly in love with his beautiful and worldly bride, and granted her every whim, even though her behaviour baffled and troubled him.


Though Louis was a pious man he came into conflict with Pope Innocent II. In 1141, the archbishopric of Bourges became vacant. The king put forward a candidate one of his chancellors, Cadurc, and vetoed another candidate, Pierre de la Chatre. Pierre was promptly elected by the canons of Bourges and consecrated by the Pope. Louis bolted the gates of Bourges against the new Bishop. The Pope, recalling a similar incident in Poitou under William X, blamed Eleanor. He also observed that Louis was only a child and should be taught manners. Affronted, Louis swore upon holy relics that, so long as he lived, Pierre should never enter Bourges. This brought an interdict upon the king's lands.


Pierre de la Chatre was given refuge by Count Theobald II of Champagne, which did not endear him to Louis. Before long Louis was involved in a war with Count Theobald of Champagne. Louis had permitted Raoul I of Vermandoisand (seneschal of France) to repudiate his wife, Theobald's niece, Leonora so that he could marry Eleanor's sister (Petronilla). Eleanor urged Louis to support her sister's marriage to Raoul of Vermandois. This war lasted from 1142 to 1144 and ended with the occupation of Champagne by the royal army. Louis was personally involved in the assault and burning of the town of Vitry. More than a thousand people who had sought refuge in the church died in the flames. Desiring an end to the war, Louis made peace with Theobald, who agreed to support the lifting of the interdict on Raoul and Petronilla. It was duly lifted and Theobald's lands were restored to him. But now Raoul refused to repudiate Petronilla, prompting Louis to return to the Champagne and ravage it again. Peace was restored later that year. Theobald's provinces were once again returned and Pierre de la Chatre was installed as Archbishop of Bourges.


In 1145, Eleanor gave birth to a daughter, Marie.


Louis, still burned with guilt over the massacre at Vitry-le-Brule, and wanted to make a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land to atone for his sins. In the Autumn of 1145, Pope Eugenius requested Louis to lead a Crusade to the Middle East. Louis declared on Christmas Day 1145 at Bourges his intention of going on a crusade.


Eleanor as well as Louis took up the cross during a sermon preached by Bernard of Clairvaux. She insisted on taking part in the Crusades as the feudal leader of the soldiers from her duchy. Her launch of the Second Crusade from Vézelay, the rumoured location of Mary Magdalene´s burial, emphasised the role of women in the campaign. In Constantinople, Eleanor was much admired. She was compared with Penthesilea, the mythical queen of the Amazons, by the Greek historian Nicetas Choniates.


From the moment the Crusaders entered Asia Minor, the Crusade went badly. The Crusade itself would achieve little. Louis was a weak and ineffectual military leader with no concept of strategy, tactics, troop discipline or morale.


Louis started off optimistically. He had been preceded by the German Emperor Conrad who Louis thought had won a great victory against a Moslem army. As Louis camped near Nicea, the sad remnants of the German army, including Emperor Conrad, straggled into the French camp, bringing news of their disaster. The French, with what remained of the Germans, then made off, back towards Antioch. Louis decided to cross the Phrygian mountains directly, in the hope of speeding his arrival in antioch where they would find refuge with Eleanor's uncle, Raymond II of Tripoli, in Antioch. As they ascended the mountains, they past the unburied corpses of the previously slaughtered German army.


On the day set for the crossing of Mount Cadmos, Louis chose to take charge of the rear of the column, where the unarmed pilgrims and the baggage trains marched. The vanguard, with which Queen Eleanor marched, was commanded by her Aquitainian vassal, Geoffrey de Rancon; this, being unencumbered by baggage, managed to reach the summit of Cadmos, where de Rancon had been ordered to make camp for the night. De Rancon however chose to march further, deciding in concert with the Count of Maurienne (Louis´ uncle) that a nearby plateau would make a better camp. As the army was divided in two, the Turks attacked, took the strategic mountain peak and happily set about massacring yet another army of incompetents. The King was saved by his own lack of presence , having scorned a King's apparel in favor of a simple solder's tunic, he escaped notice. As one chronicler noted, while his bodyguards were having their skulls smashed open, Louis "nimbly and bravely scaled a rock by making use of some tree roots which God had provided for his safety,".


Eleanor paid for Louis' incompetence. Geoffrey de Rancon, who had made the decision to continue beyond the peak, was Eleanor's vassal. Worse, the Aquitainians had been in the vanguard which had escaped the massacre. And worse yet hostile Church chroniclers soon found a new excuse: the baggage train had been slow because of all of the finery carried for Eleanor and her ladies. In any case the remainder of the army continued to Antioch.


While in the eastern Mediterranean, Eleanor learned about maritime conventions developing there, she introduced those conventions in her own lands, on the island of Oleron in 1160 and later in England as well - the beginnings of what would become Admiralty law. She was also instrumental in developing trade agreements with Constantinople and trade ports of in the Holy Lands.


Even before the Crusade, Eleanor and Louis were becoming estranged. Eleanor's reputation was further tarnished by an alleged affair with her uncle, Raymond, Prince of Antioch. The city of Antioch had been annexed by Bohemond of Hauteville in the First Crusade, and it was now ruled by Eleanor's flamboyant uncle Raymond who had gained the principality by marrying its reigning Princess, Constance of Antioch. Eleanor supported her uncle Raymond's desire to re-capture the nearby County of Edessa, the cause of the Crusade; in addition, having been close to him in their youth, she now showed conspicuous affection towards her uncle. Historians today dismiss this as familial affection, noting their early friendship, and his similarity to her father and grandfather, but at the time hostile Church chronicler believed, or at least reported, that the two were involved in an incestuous and adulterous affair.


Louis was directed by the Church to visit Jerusalem instead. When Eleanor (allegedly) declared her intention to stay with Raymond along with her Aquitaine forces, Louis had her brought out by force. His long march to Jerusalem and back north debilitated his army, and her imprisonment disheartened her knights. Divided Crusade armies could not overcome the Muslim forces. At the insistence of Church leaders, who were even more incompetent than Louis, the Crusade leaders targeted Damascus, an ally until the attack. Failing, they retired to Jerusalem, and then left for home in 1152.


The royal couple, on separate ships due to their disagreements, were first attacked in May by Byzantine ships attempting to capture both. Although they escaped, stormy weather drove Eleanor's ship south to the Barbary Coast. In mid-July, Eleanor's ship finally reached Palermo in Sicily, where she discovered that she and her husband had both been given up for dead. She was given shelter and food by servants of King Roger of Sicily, until Louis eventually reached Calabria. She set out to meet him there. Later, at King Roger's court in Potenza, she learnt of the death of her Uncle Raymond.


Instead of returning to France, they now went off to visit the Pope in Tusculum (where he had been driven by a Roman revolt). Pope Eugenius III did not, as Eleanor had hoped, grant a divorce; instead, he asserted that it might not be dissolved under any pretext. He manoeuvred events so that Eleanor had no choice but to sleep with Louis in a specially prepared bed. The papal bed seems to have been efficacious because Eleanor conceived their second child - another daughter, Alix of France. But perhaps not entirely efficacious because Alix doomed the marriage. Faced with another disappointment over the lack of a male heir, opposition to Eleanor from many French Barons, and his wife's desire for divorce, Louis bowed to the inevitable. On March 11, 1152, they met at the royal castle of Beaugency to dissolve the marriage. Louis and Eleanor were both present. On March 21 four archbishops, with the approval of Pope Eugenius, granted an annulment due to consanguinity within the fourth degree (Eleanor and Louis were third cousins, once removed, sharing a common ancestry with Robert II of France). Their two daughters were declared legitimate and custody of them awarded to King Louis. Eleanor's land's reverted to her.


Two lords... Theobald of Blois, son of the Count of Champagne, and Geoffrey of Anjou (brother of Henry, Count of Anjou and Duke of Normandy) tried to kidnap Eleanor to marry her and claim her lands on Eleanor's way to Poitiers. This was a normal way for Christian men of all classes to find a wife throughout the middle ages (and into modern times in strongly Catholic countries). Both attempts failed. As soon as she arrived in Poitiers, Eleanor sent envoys to Henry Count of Anjou and Duke of Normandy,  asking him to come at once and marry her.


On Whit Sunday, May 18, 1152, six weeks after her annulment, Eleanor married Henry. She was about 11 years older than the count (and, incidentally, related to him more closely than she had been to Louis - a marriage between Henry and Eleanor's daughter, Marie, had been declared impossible for this very reason). Over the next thirteen years, she bore Henry five sons and three daughters:

William, Count of Poitiers

Henry ("Henry the Young King")

Matilda of England,

Richard (Richard I of England, The Lionheart.

Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany

Leonora of Aquitaine

Jeanne of England

John (King John of England)


The period between Henry's accession to the throne of England, as  Henry II and the birth of their youngest son was to see turbulent events: Aquitaine defied the authority of Henry as Eleanor's husband; attempts to claim Toulouse, the inheritance of Eleanor's grandmother and father, were made, ending in failure.


1167 saw the marriage of Eleanor's third daughter, Matilda, to Henry the Lion of Saxony, during which time Eleanor remained in England with her daughter for the year prior to Matilda's departure to Normandy in September. Following that, Eleanor proceeded to gather together her movable possessions in England and packed them up, transporting them on several ships in December to Argentan. At the royal court, she celebrated Christmas, and appears to have agreed to a separation with Henry. Certainly, she left for her own city of Poitiers immediately after Christmas. Henry did not stop her; on the contrary, he and his army personally escorted her there, before attacking a castle belonging to the rebellious Lusignan family. Henry then went about his own business outside Aquitaine, leaving Earl Patrick as her protective custodian. When Patrick was killed in a skirmish, Eleanor was left in control of her inheritance. She ransomed Patrick's captured nephew, the young William Marshal.


Away from Henry, Eleanor was able to center her court on courtly love. According to some, Henry and the Church expunged the records of the actions and judgements of this court. A small fragment of her codes and practices was written by Andreas Capellanus. As stated she was the patroness of such literary figures as Wace, Benoît de Sainte-More, and Chrétien de Troyes

Henry concentrated on controlling his increasingly-large empire, badgering Eleanor's subjects in attempts to control her patrimony of Aquitaine and her court at Poitiers.


In March 1173, aggrieved at his lack of power and encouraged by his father's enemies, the younger Henry launched the Revolt of 1173-1174. He fled to Paris. From there 'the younger Henry, devising evil against his father from every side by the advice of the French King, went secretly into Aquitaine where his two youthful brothers, Richard and Geoffrey, were living with their mother, and with her connivance, so it is said, he incited them to join him'. The Queen sent her younger sons to France 'to join with him against their father the King'. Once her sons had left for Paris, Eleanor encouraged the lords of the south to rise up and support them. Sometime between the end of March and the beginning of May, Eleanor left Poitiers to follow her sons to Paris but was arrested on the way and sent to the King in Rouen.  Henry did not announce the arrest publicly. For the next year, her whereabouts are unknown. On July 8, 1174,Henry took ship for England from Barfleur. He brought Eleanor on the ship. As soon as they disembarked at Southampton, Eleanor was taken away either to Winchester Castle or Sarum Castle and held there.


Eleanor was imprisoned for the next fifteen years, much of the time in various locations in England. During her imprisonment, Eleanor had become more and more distant with her sons, especially Richard who had always been her favorite. She did not get the chance to see her sons very often during her imprisonment, though she was released for special occasions such as Christmas (One such occasion is the setting for the classic film The Lion in Winter). About four miles from Shrewsbury and close by Haughmond Abbey is "Queen Eleanor's Bower," the remains of a triangular castle which is believed to have been one of her prisons.


In 1183, Henry the Young tried again. He was in debt and had been refused control of Normandy. He tried to ambush his father at Limoges. He was joined by troops sent by his brother Geoffrey and Philip II of France.  Henry II's troops besieged the town, forcing his son to flee. Henry the Young wandered aimlessly through Aquitaine until he caught dysentery. On Saturday, 11 June 1183, the Young King realized he was dying and was overcome with remorse for his sins. When his father's ring was sent to him, he begged that his father would show mercy to his mother, and that all his companions would plead with King Henry to set her free.  Henry sent Thomas of Earley, Archdeacon of Wells, to break the news to Eleanor at Sarum.


In 1183, Philip of France claimed that certain properties in Normandy belonged to The Young Queen but Henry insisted that they had once belonged to Eleanor and would revert to her upon her son's death. For this reason Henry summoned Eleanor to Normandy in the late summer of 1183. She stayed in Normandy for six months. This was the beginning of a period of greater freedom for the still supervised Eleanor. Eleanor went back to England probably early in 1184. Over the next few years Eleanor often traveled with her husband and was sometimes associated with him in the government of the realm.


On Henry's death on July 6, 1189, Richard was his undisputed heir. One of his first acts as king was to send William Marshal to England with orders to release Eleanor from prison, but her custodians had already released her when he demanded this. Eleanor rode to Westminster and received the oaths of fealty from many lords and prelates on behalf of the King. She ruled England in Richard's name, signing herself as 'Eleanor, by the grace of God, Queen of England'. On August 13, 1189,  Richard sailed from Barfleur to Portsmouth, and was received with enthusiasm. She ruled England as regent again when Richard went off on the Third Crusade. When he was captured by the Austrians on his way home, she personally negotiated his ransom by going to Germany.


Eleanor survived Richard and lived well into the reign of her youngest son King John. In 1199, under the terms of a truce between King Philip II of France and King John, it was agreed that Philip's twelve-year-old heir Louis would be married to one of John's nieces of Castile. John deputed Eleanor to travel to Castile to select one of the princesses. Now 77, Eleanor set out from Poitiers. Just outside Poitiers she was ambushed and held captive by Hugh IX of Lusignan, which had long ago been sold by his forebears to Henry II. Eleanor secured her freedom by agreeing to his demands and journeyed south, crossed the Pyrenees, and traveled through the Kingdoms of Navarre and Castile, arriving before the end of January, 1200. King Alfonso VIII and Queen Leonora of Castile had two remaining unmarried daughters, Urraca and Blanche. Eleanor selected the younger daughter, Blanche. She stayed for two months at the Castilian court. Late in March, Eleanor and Blanche de Castile journeyed back across the Pyrenees.


In Bordeaux, she fell ill and made her way to Fontevraud,  where King John visited her. Eleanor was again unwell in early 1201. When war broke out between John and Philip, Eleanor set out from Fontevraud Abbey for her capital Poitiers to prevent her grandson Arthur, John's enemy, from taking control. Arthur learned of her whereabouts and besieged her in the castle of Mirabeau. As soon as King John heard of this he marched south, overcame the besiegers and captured Arthur. Eleanor then returned to Fontevrault where she took the veil as a nun, as her daughter Jeanne Countess of Toulouse had done. Eleanor died in 1204 and was buried at Fontevraud Abbey near her husband Henry, her son Richard, and her daughter Jeanne, joined later by her grandson Raymond VII of Toulouse. Her tomb effigy shows her reading a Bible and is decorated with magnificent jewelery. By the time of her death she had outlived all of her children except for King John of England and Queen Leonora. She is acclaimed by many as the most interesting woman ever to have lived. Certainly few describe her life as dull. Requiescat in pacem, Aliénor d'Aquitània.


Jeanne (or Joan) of England (October, 1165 - 4 September 1199)

Jeanne was the seventh child of King Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine 

the younger sister of William, Count of Poitiers,

the younger sister of Henry ("Henry the Young King")

the younger sister of Matilda of England,

a younger sister of Richard (Richard I, King of England, The Lionheart.)

a younger sister of Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany

a younger sister of Leonora of Aquitaine.

an older sister of John (King John of England)


Jeanne was a younger half-sister of Marie de Champagne and of Alix of France (from Eleanor of Aquitaine's first marriage to the King of France)


Jeanne was born at Angers, in Anjou. She spent her youth at her mother's courts at Winchester and Poitiers. She was Richard's  favorite sister. In 1176, King William II of Sicily sent ambassadors to England to ask for Jeanne's hand in marriage. The betrothal was confirmed and on August 27 Jeanne set sail for Sicily, escorted by an uncle and the bishop of Norwich


In Saint-Gilles, the home town of the Count of Toulouse, her entourage was met by representatives of the King of Sicily: After a hazardous voyage, the party arrived safely in Sicily, and on February 13, 1177, Jeanne married William II of Sicily and was crowned Queen of Sicily at Palermo Cathedral.


They had one son, Bohemond, born in 1181, who died in infancy. Following William's death she was kept a prisoner by the new king, Tancred of Sicily. Her brother Richard I of England arrived in Italy in 1190, on the way to the Holy Land. He demanded her return, along with her dowry. Tancred balked at these demands so Richard seized a nearby monastery and the castle of La Bagnara. Deciding to spend the winter there he attacked and subdued the city of Messina. Outclassed, Tancred now agreed to the terms and sent back Jeanne's dowry.


In March 1191 Eleanor of Aquitaine  arrived in Messina with Richard's prospective bride, Berengaria of Navarre. Eleanor returned to England, leaving Berengaria in Jeanne's care. Richard decided to postpone his wedding. He put his sister and bride on a ship, and set sail for the Holy Land. Two days later the fleet was hit by a storm which destroyed several vessels and blew Jeanne and Berengaria's ship off course.


Richard landed in Crete, but his sister and fiancée were stranded near Cyprus. The Despot of Cyprus, Isaac Comnenus was just about to capture them when Richard's fleet appeared. Both princesses were saved, but the ambitious Isaac made off with Richard's treasure. Richard pursued and captured Isaac, threw him into a dungeon, and sent Jeanne and Berengaria on to Acre in the Country of Tripoli, an Occitan speaking state belonging to the House of Toulouse. 


Once established in the Holy Land, Richard proposed marrying Jeanne to Saladin's brother, Al-Adil, and making the couple joint rulers of Jerusalem. This excellent plan failed as Jeanne declined to marry a Muslim, Al-Adil declined to marry a Christian and neither wanted to convert (which would in any case have largely defeated the object of the plan).


Jeanne was married in 1196 to Raymond VI of Toulouse,  with Quercy and the Agenais as her dowry. The marriage took place in Beaucaire, presided over by Richard I himself. The following year she bore a son, also called Raymond, later to become Raymond VII of Toulouse.


Raymond does not seem to have treated his wife well, and Jeanne came to fear him and his nobles. In 1199, while pregnant with a second child, she was left to face a rebellion. She laid siege to the castle of the ringleaders, the lords of Saint-Félix-de-Caraman les Cassès. Fearing treachery from her own troops she fled to the Limousin, hoping for Richard's protection, but she found him dead at Chalus.


She then fled to the court of her mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, at Rouen, where she found refuge. Jeanne subsequently asked to be admitted to Fontevraud Abbey. She died there in childbirth, aged thirty-four years old, a veiled nun. In the west at this time, cesarean operations invariably meant death for the mother, and in this case for the baby too. It was a second son who lived long enough to be baptized Richard after his recently dead uncle. Jeanne was buried at Fontevraud Abbey along with her brother Richard, and presumably her son Richard. Later they would be joined by Eleanor of Aquitaine and fifty years later by her first son Raymond VII of Toulouse. 


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The Middle Ages

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The Haunting Sea

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In The Tower

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The Dream Series

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gods vs. heathens

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The Dream Series Continues

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The Second Crusade

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Infamous Acts

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The Uncommon Commonality

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The Elevator Does Not Stop Here

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Out of Order

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The Quarrel Over Medieval Women's Power

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