Saturday, April 02, 2011

Author Christy English on Eleanor of Aquitaine and The Court of Love

HFRT is featuring author Christy English this month and for more on the event you can check out the group page or the calender of events. I can not wait to post my review of Christy's latest release "To Be Queen: A Novel of the Early Life of Eleanor of Aquitaine" but that will have to wait a little bit more but in the mean time if you want to you can check out my review of Christy's previous release "The Queen's Pawn". Now it is time to give a warm welcome to author Christy English who has graciously written a guest post on the lady we are all dying to learn more about Eleanor of Aquitaine. You can also click on the "To Be Queen" cover art on the side bar and follow the link to the now running giveaway for your chance to win a copy of Christy's wonderful novel.

Eleanor of Aquitaine and The Court of Love
Guest Post by Christy English, Author of
To Be Queen: A Novel of the Early Life of Eleanor of Aquitaine

The Court of Love was begun in Aquitaine by Eleanor’s grandfather, William IX, the troubadour duke. A great lover of ladies, he had three wives and countless mistresses, and to seduce them all, he wrote love poetry and set that poetry to music. A few of his poems and songs survive, some written to muse on God, others a rapture to Love. Though the language of troubadour poetry is flowery, no doubt the good duke’s goal was the same as that of many men: to seduce a woman, or women, into his bed.
William IX, Duke of Aquitaine
Eleanor’s Grandfather
William IX was a notorious or a romantic figure, depending on who you asked at the time. He kidnapped his third wife, Eleanor’s grandmother, away from her rightful husband so that she might leave all behind and marry him. It was a happy marriage from all accounts, and both William X and Raymond, later Prince of Antioch, were products of that union. The rounded tower, the Maubergeon Tower, shown in this photograph of the Palace at Poitiers, was built by William IX for his new bride, Dangerousa.
The Palace at Poitiers
View of the Tower Built by William IX for His Third Wife, Dangeousa
Eleanor’s Grandmother
Though her grandfather was very successful in establishing the Court of Love in Aquitaine and Poitiers, it was Eleanor and later her favorite son, Richard the Lionheart, who kept the tradition alive. Eleanor transformed the court of love to suit her needs as duchess. She rose to rule her barons and fighting men at the very young age of fifteen, and as she was unable to lead them into battle herself, she had to compel them to fight for her for other reasons. Love is one of the best.
Of course, courtly love is not romantic love as we understand it today. The men who vied for and pined after the love of their lady never expected this love to be fulfilled. Unlike the Court of Love under Duke William IX, who did indeed expect women to fall to his songs and to his charms, Eleanor lived her life untouched and untouchable, the Lady for whom all men were dying of love, but who no man could approach. Eleanor changed the Art of Courtly Love to mean that all men loved her from afar, all men might sing for her, write poetry to her, and most importantly, fight her wars for her. For a woman ruling in a time when men would simply bash another’s head in to take what they wanted, she had to use every advantage she had to keep her fighting men in line. The Court of Love was simply one tool in Eleanor of Aquitaine’s arsenal, but it served her well all her life.
The Great Hall in Eleanor’s Palace at Poitiers
Where Eleanor’s Troubadours Sang of Her Beauty
Eleanor’s first daughter by Louis VII of France, Marie of Champagne, continued the Court of Love in her husband’s domains. She sponsored many famous troubadours, among them Chretien de Troyes and Andreus Capellanus, who wrote The Art of Courtly Love.
Eleanor’s influence on the Court of Love is far reaching. Even today the chivalric notion of a knight fighting for his lady fair is a common theme. The idea of courtly love is just one more way Eleanor’s influence still lives on.
Lizzy, thank you so much for hosting me today. TO BE QUEEN: A NOVEL OF THE EARLY LIFE OF ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE is available for pre-order and will be in bookstores on April 5. 
Amazon. For those who want to know more about Eleanor’s adventures, please find me on my blog at , on Twitter and on Facebook

Thank you Christy for the enticing post on Eleanor and her court of love. I especially enjoyed the pictures since it visually gives me an idea of where she lived. I can just see her now in her hall listening to the swoony songs of love.
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  1. Wonderful post! This isn't a period of time that I know much about, but Eleanor is one of history's famous bad girls, so I'm keen to read all your books about her.

  2. I would so love to visit France again and see these places with a new perspective.

  3. Thank you Stephanie! I hope you enjoy them both...:) Pricilla, I would love to see these places too...
    I just want to make a correction...Duke William and his brother Raymond were sons of William IX and his second wife, Philippa. Eleanor was Dangerousa's granddaughter through her mother, Aenor. Complicated enough for you? Thank you to the brilliant Elizabeth Chadwick for catching this mistake.

  4. Stephanie, she is one of the bad girls but one that you have to love because all is what she did that was bad was not listen to men LOL. If you get a chance check Christy out I promise you will not regret it.

    Patty, lucky dog I have never been there ahhh *sigh* someday!!

    Christy, thank you for the cool post it is a please to have you back to historically obsessed. Hummm let me see if I can fix that real quick, I read the her linage and what a name Danderousa.

  5. I tried to fix it but my brain went blah and I could not figure it out.

  6. Interesting. I had not heard courtly love describes this way before. I can see how Eleanor would have used it to her advantage.
    Not yet having had the opportunity to visit a castle, I am amazed at the massive size of the rooms like the Great Hall.
    You mention that her daughters with Louis VII of France continued her Courtly Love tradition. When she left Louis, what happened to them?

  7. Thank you Lizzy for trying to fix my worries...:) I am just glad someone caught it.

    LibraryPat what a great question. Eleanor had to leave both her young daughters, Marie and Alix, behind. Though we don't know if Alix continued the court of love, we do know that Marie did. Marie is often now known as Marie de France, who patronized the famous troubadours, Chretien de Troyes and Andreas Cappellanus.

  8. Just like today, many would-be lovers from the middle-ages had to put up with rejection from the “the object of his great desire”, as this peopm about unrequited love shows…

    “I was living pleasantly, serenely and peacefully
    the day that Love entered my heart,
    for I neither loved nor was loved,
    nor did I feel any ill or injury from love.
    Now I do not know what love is or what it is all about,
    for I am in love with a lady who does not love me at all,
    and yet, all that I possess I have from her
    and I would have the whole world from her if it were mine.

    II. I have my feelings from her in place of other riches,
    and my songs in place of knightly valour,
    and if I were a king, a duke or an emir
    I would accomplish splendid deeds of prowess for love of her,
    but lacking the power that befits them,
    for serving her I have my noble faith,
    and when she has clearly recognized it,
    she ought to accept noble faith in place of other riches”.

    Full poem:

  9. Christy, it is all good I had no idea way over my head I guess. I did however catch a while ago on research Eleanor online once what had happened with the daughters she had with Louis. I did not know though that Alix continued the court of love. Thank you for sharing Christy, Eleanor is so much fun to read about.

    Auron, very very beautiful I LOVE it. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Interesting post. We studied courtly love in one of my literature classes in college and I have always thought of it as an intriguing concept. I'm not surprised that Eleanor would have used such methods. She was very shrewd and knew what worked to her advantage.

  11. Michelle, it is indeed a interesting concept but I think Eleanor used it the best to her advantage. It worked to control the nobles and the rest of her court into "loving her from a distance". Eleanor is such an amazing woman she always sparks interest.


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