Book Review: Eleanor of Aquitaine


by Ralph V. Turner

New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009. Pp. xviii, 395. Illus., maps, diagr., notes, biblio., index. $35.00. ISBN:0300119119

Eleanor of Aquitaine is a comprehensive and insightful biography of the most notable woman of the Twelfth and early Thirteenth centuries, which also provides a look into the complexities of class, gender, and authority during the Middle Ages.

Prof. Turner (Florida State) helps dispel many of the myths associated with Eleanor, whose popular image is rather like a cross between the equally fictional reputations of the Empress Livia and Lucrezia Borgia, to reveal a woman who acted very much within the frame-work of her class and society. 

Although her reputation was shaped largely by a hostile tradition, Eleanor was the not merely a high ranking noble-woman, but in her own right a powerful "Lord," with vast territories. Thus, her actions were usually very similar to those of her peers, who were, of course, almost all men. Along the way, Prof. Turner gives the reader many interesting peeks at some of the period's most notable individuals, among them her successive royal husbands, Louis VII of France and Henry II of England, her sons, Richard, Geoffrey, and John, and a number of others, while taking us on a great tour of through the labyrinths of social and political life in the high middle ages. 

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

Buy it at



Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close