Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Eleanor of Aquitaine: The Queen Who Rode Off to Battle

Eleanor of Aquitaine: The Queen Who Rode Off to Battle

Ann Kramer
Nonfiction  Series
for ages 9 to 12
National Geographic , 2006   ISBN: 0792258959

Eleanor was the daughter of William X, the Duke of Aquitaine. He was the king of France’s vassal, but he was also a very powerful man who ruled over a large part of what is France today. Knowing that his daughter would one day be the wife of a great leader, William X made sure that his lively and intelligent daughter was taught how to read Latin and the local Aquitaine dialect. She was also taught how to ride, how to play a musical instrument, how to hunt with a falcon, how to sew and embroider, and how to manage a household.

Soon after the death of her father in 1137, Eleanor was married to Louis, the son of King Louis VI of France, thus uniting France and Aquitaine. Later that year, Louis VI died, and Eleanor and her new husband Louis VII became king and queen.

Eleanor soon discovered that her husband was not a good match for her. He was a very religious man, who was weak and often ineffectual, and after many unhappy years together, the couple divorced in 1152. That same year, Eleanor married Henry of Anjou, and she finally had a partner in life who was as bright, vivacious, and ambitious as she was. With Henry, Eleanor had eight children, and she became queen of England when Henry took the English throne in 1154. Two of her daughters became queens, and three of her sons became kings.

In this fascinating book, readers will not only learn about the life and achievements of a singular woman, but they will also learn a great deal about the history of medieval Europe. Chapters about Eleanor’s life are interspersed with chapters about medieval society, the crusades, courtly love, and women and the church. The text is also broken up by annotated photographs, maps, a timeline, little boxes containing additional background information, quotes, and more.

This is one in a series of biographies published by National Geographic.