Also published as Queen Defiant: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine by NAL in the USA in June 2011
‘Now I have reached my fifteenth year. One day I will be Duchess of Aquitaine and Gascony, Countess of Poitou. My lands will be vast, wealthy, well-governed. I have been brought up to know luxury, sophistication, the delights of music and art. I will be influential and-so they say-beautiful. Do my father’s renowned troubadours not sing my praises?’
Why is Eleanor so irresistible? What is it that stirs our perennial fascination with her? Eleanor lived so long ago – almost nine hundred years – when women, for the most part, had no voice in history. Yet Eleanor’s voice rings out strong and clear. What a remarkable role she played, and what a colourful character she had. Flouting the mores of society in a relentless bid to determine her own destiny, she was vibrant, always supremely confident, sometimes outrageous, and strikingly beautiful.
All the necessary attributes to make her the quintessential heroine.
Not content to accept the powerless ignominy of her life in Paris as wife to Louis VII of France, she was quite prepared to seize fate and make it dance to her tune. And that is what she did, to fulfil her vision of herself as Duchess of Aquitaine. Eleanor’s sense of self-worth, extraordinary in the twelfth century, with the authority of Church and State united against her, appeals very strongly to women today.
Eleanor’s life was never short of excitement and emotion. Breathtaking in her fearlessness, she was not always wise in her choices, yet she still demands our admiration as she pursued her ambitions in a man’s world. She challenged Louis’ control over her, she flirted with forbidden lovers, she insisted on accompanying Louis on Crusade where she survived hardship and malicious destruction of her reputation. Above all she was audacious and daring enough to find a more compatible husband, a brilliant, mercurial, and dynamic man with whom she was destined to rule the greatest Empire in western Europe, stretching from England all the way to the Mediterranean Sea.