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Eleanor of Aquitaine

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Eleanor of Aquitaine (c1122-1204), who was a ruler in her own right as well as married to the king of France and then to the king of England.

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


Lindy Grant
Professor of Medieval History at the University of Reading

Nicholas Vincent
Professor of Medieval History at the University of East Anglia


Julie Barrau
University Lecturer in British Medieval History at the University of Cambridge

Producer: Simon Tillotson.

Available now

43 minutes


Lindy Grant at the University of Reading

Nicholas Vincent at the University of East Anglia

Julie Barrau at the University of Cambridge

Eleanor of Aquitaine – Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Eleanor of Aquitaine – Wikipedia



Martin Aurell, The Plantagenet Empire, 1154–1224 (Routledge, 2007)

Marcus Bull and Catherine Léglu (eds.), The World of Eleanor of Aquitaine: Literature and Society in Southern France between the Eleventh and Thirteenth Centuries (Boydell Press, 2005)

S. D. Church (ed.), King John: New Interpretations (Boydell Press, 1999), especially ‘Eleanor of Aquitaine: The Last Years’ by Jane Martindale

Anne Duggan (ed.), Queens and Queenship in Medieval Europe (Boydell Press, 1997)

John Gillingham, The Angevin Empire (first published 1985; Bloomsbury Academic, 2000)

Susan M. Johns, Noblewomen, Aristocracy and Power in the Twelfth-Century Anglo-Norman Realm (Manchester University Press, 2003)

Amy Kelly, Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Four Kings (Harvard University Press, 1950)

Jane Martindale, Status, Authority and Regional Power: Aquitaine and France, 9th to 12th Centuries (Ashgate, 1997)

Janet L. Nelson, (ed.), Richard Coeur de Lion in History and Myth (King’s College Centre for Late Antique and Medieval Studies, 1992), especially ‘Eleanor of Aquitaine’ by Jane Martindale

John of Salisbury (trans. Marjorie Chibnall), The Historia Pontificalis of John of Salisbury (Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1956)

Ralph V. Turner, Eleanor of Aquitaine (Yale University Press, 2009)

Nicholas Vincent, A Brief History of Britain 1066-1485 (Robinson, 2011)

Bonnie Wheeler and John C. Parsons (eds.), Eleanor of Aquitaine, Lord and Lady (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003)



Role Contributor
Presenter Melvyn Bragg
Interviewed Guest Lindy Grant
Interviewed Guest Nicholas Vincent
Interviewed Guest Julie Barrau
Producer Simon Tillotson


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