PDF Eleanor of Aquitaine: Heroine of the Middle Ages (Makers of the Middle Ages and Renaissance)

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Producer Kim Poster has contracted Alison Weir, an authority on medieval history, to be the production's historical consultant. So I thought the idea of having an extraordinarily sexy and charismatic Becket would be doing justice to Anouilh's original intentions. Caird's production will include two choirboys from Westminister Abbey who will sing songs written by John Cameron. Becket begins previews at the Theatre Royal on October 20 and has its official first night on October She was a decade older than Henry, whom she married after ridding herself of the unattractive King Louis of France.

As Alison Weir shows in her excellent biography, the Queen and Henry were, in their early years at least, passionate lovers in a royal world of arranged and loveless marriages. Two tombs with effigies - Henry II and Richard I - at either side of the high altar, on which stands a crucifix.

She is making her confession, and we hear this only as a recorded voice. This is the backdrop to the play, as Eleanor's comments will be heard from time to time, as if she was speaking to her confessor. The NUNS stand, two by two, either side of her, with their backs to the audience.

Children of the Middle Ages

One is carrying a folded black habit, veil and crucifix. The music swells to a crescendo, then dies down to silence. Father, before I take the veil in the morning. But I was a great heiress, thegreatest in all Christendom. My lands stretched down from the Loire to the Pyreneees, and across from the sea to Massif Centrale.

But my dowry was not just the rich lands of Poitou and Aquitaine. I was fifteen and m beautiful. The minstrels sang that I was without peer The first NUN on the left turns slowly to face the audience, pushes back her veil and wimple, discards her habit and raises her head slowly to reveal the young ELEANOR, clad in a simple but elegant white gown and a circlet of bejewelled flowers crowning her long hair.

She is bathed in a spotlight as the scene darkens and the stage is cleared. The scenery swivels round to show brilliant white arches adorned with climbing roses. We are in a garden in southern France, and it is a sunny day. He greets his daughter warmly. He explains that he is going on pilgrimage to the Holy Land and that he is leaving Eleanor under the protection of the King of France and in the care of Dangerosa. This scene should convey much about Aquitaine and about Eleanor's youth. The Te Deum Laudimus swells as the marriage ceremony is acted out in mime.

They are the only lighting during this scene.

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In the background can be heard the far-off playing of a harp. Louis is still saying his prayers. Then he rises, blows out his candle, gets into bed and settles down to sleep. After a few moments, there is an urgent banging on the door, heard offstage. He and Eleanor are now King and Queen of France. As the lights dim, the audience is left with the impression that the marriage is about to be consummated after all.

A discussion follows that reveals much about Eleanor's life in Paris. The tension between Eleanor and Adelaide is palpable. As they are talking, a procession of three MONKS enters from right, chanting, crosses the stage and exits left. LOUIS follows humbly behind them.

He ignores the women for he is lost in prayer. The conversation resumes, and turns to the scandalous affair between Eleanor's sister, Petronilla, and Raoul, Count of Vermandois. He tells, in graphic detail, of the dreadful massacre at Vitry, for which he says he will never forgive himself. The lights go down and they exit. Eleanor is tired of Louis' conscience and his distress.

She is clearly a very frustrated woman, and the row that takes place in this scene, reveals much about the couple's sex life, or lack of it, and the effect on Eleanor. Eleanor also bemoans the fact that the couple as yet have no children, and no heir to France.

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Again, she blames Louis. In desperation, she makes an effort to seduce Louis, but love-making is the last thing on his mind. He pulls away, and as she lies there weeping, he is oblivious. Louis protests, and they argue again. Eleanor wins. Lights down, exit, clear stage. Scene 5: The plain of Vezelay, Burgundy, Daylight, blue sky. He is an ascetic and a zealot, with a profound air of sanctity and authority. He holds his sword upright, like a Crucifix. Each then retires to the left, standing resting on their swords.

Throughout this scene, a religious chant can be heard faintly in the background. They follow her offstage. Clearly she has got the upper hand and he dare not gainsay her. Scene 6: Antioch, A colonnade of white pillars forms the backdrop. In front is a couch draped in exotic oriental fabrics. Faintly, we can hear a troubadour song. She is telling him about a disaster that befell the army on Mount Cadmos, and how everyone has blamed her for it.

The next moment, they are kissing passionately. The unseen troubadour continues to sing in the silence. She is clearly surprised to see Louis and Thierry. She says she has been spending time with Raymond to discuss strategies for the crusade, but LOUIS will not let her dictate to him, and a blazing row ensues. She has had enough. LOUIS is devastated,for he loves her in his way, but he eventually agrees to divorce her if the French barons agree. There should be no annulment, and she should forcefully be taught a lesson. LOUIS agrees. For once, he is playing the man. They exit, and the lights dim.

In response to her protests, they tell her that the army is leaving Antioch by night and that she is going with it. They then carry her offstage, struggling and protesting. Lights down. Behind the curtains [unseen as yet], against a backdrop of cloth of gold, is a richly-hung bed. A raised papal throne is halfway to the left, and a prie-Dieu halfway to the right.

It is now well known that the couple are estranged. They kneel in turn before the enthroned POPE and kiss his extended toe. He then commiserates with them over their failed crusade, and they tell him something of their adventures since leaving the Holy Land. ELEANOR reveals that her ship got blown off course in the Mediterranean and was captured by Barbary pirates, who took it to the coast of Africa, whence the crew managed to escape.

The POPE insists that they heal the rift. Drawing back the curtains, he shows them the bed he has prepared for them and insists that they use it to good use. He makes them kneel either side of the bed, blesses it, then they get into it and he pulls the curtains together. He then kneels at the prie-Dieu and prays for God's blessing on the union and an heir to France.

The King and Queen still have no son, only two daughters. Eleanor has been clamouring for an annulment. They bow to LOUIS and he welcomes them, saying he is happy that past differences have been resolved and that good relations are to be restored. She stares straight ahead, her face set. He looks directly at her face,long and hard, but she will not respond.

Lights down on this tableau. Only one candle lights the scene. ELEANOR tries to fend him off, protesting that he should not be there and that they are running a terrible risk, but he pinions her down and tells her to order him to leave. She cannot bring herself to do so, and, having established that Louis never visits her at night, he triumphantly resumes their love-making. Presently, they reach a shattering climax. He says he doesn't care. She then, very provocatively, says she feels she should tell him that she slept with his father five years before.

He says he knew that, and jokes about the affair putting them between the forbidden degrees of consanguinity. We can always plead our joint descent from Duke Robert of Normandy. Because, my lovely Eleanor, I intend to have you for my wife. I asked myself last year when, frustrated with the production's cavalier attitude to history, I resigned as consultant on the TV series of Henry VIII and his wives, starring Ray Winstone.

But the question remains: why are audiences being sold short by what passes as historical drama these days? This is a subject on which, as an historian whose life is spent verifying every last detail, I have strong views. And as an historian I probably have an unfair advantage, for many lay people would neither know nor care if a character in a historical drama wore a costume that was 30 years out of period, or spoke in anachronisms.

I'm the first to admit that one can be too pedantic. But I admit to foaming at the mouth when hearing of a television director who believed it to be 'demeaning' to have to follow the facts of history - a breathtakingly arrogant view, in my opinion. Film makers do not need to change the facts, for history is already packed with colourful, dramatic stories. Henry VIII had six wives, for goodness sake, and beheaded two of them - isn't that drama enough, without inventing further scenes of gratuitous sex and violence? And no, he wasn't a Tudor version of a lager lout: he was a cultivated man who spoke several languages, read St Thomas Aquinas for pleasure and had exquisite courtly manners.

So why are we still seeing variations on the caricature invented by Charles Laughton? The answer, I suspect, lies in inverted elitism: let's use the kind of actors who will appeal to a younger audience. Because violence and sex sell, let's make the executions more bloody and add the odd rape scene. Even if it never happened. And let's not bother with headgear or formal court dress - tousled hair and open necks look so now. Not only is this deeply disappointing to the kind of people who are interested in history and know a great deal about it, it also misinforms people who but take film and television as gospel truth.

I frequently get comments on 'facts' culled from some historical travesty of a film. Elizabeth can't have been a virgin, we saw her in bed with Dudley. I could go on. My family refuse to watch historical drama with me because I usually end up muttering grimly all the way through. In these, there is at least an attempt at authenticity, and a dramatic truth despite occasional inaccuracies. For there are times when dramatic licence is permissible. After all, the chief purpose of drama is to entertain.

Likewise, we might know that Sir Thomas More burned heretics and used scatological terms against his enemies, but we can still delight in Paul Schofield's portrayal of his as a gentle man. I have recently ventured into the field of historical fiction writing, in which an author can give rein to flights of fancy wherever the facts are not known. Original sources rarely reveal much about people's inner feelings or their sex lives - plenty of room for invention there! As a historian, I am quite comfortable with that.

But I am loath to alter the facts themselves, and I should prefer it if the makers of historical dramas felt the same way. This surely should not be too much of a challenge to the talented people out there. What a contribution that would be, not only to our culture but also to our understanding of history.

She should know. She has now written two books about Eleanor of Aquitaine The first was a history, Eleanor of Aquitaine , sticking closely to facts and examining all sources rigorously. Now she has written The Captive Queen , in which she allows myth, legend and conjecture to creep in — though and this is the important point always making it clear in notes at the end of the book when that has been allowed to occur.

Eleanor was that remarkable queen, who, 'by reason of her excessive beauty, destroyed or injured nations', according to one contemporary chronicler. She was the mother of twelve children and co-ruler of a realm stretching from Northumberland to the Pyrenees; but she has been remorselessly vilified by myth and legend over the centuries — not least by allegations that she murdered Rosamund de Clifford at Woodstock.

The author, who will this week talk at Woodstock Town Hall as part of the Woodstock at festival, said: 'I am a popular historian who would have been frowned upon a generation or two ago. Readers care passionately about accuracy, and whenever you depart from history into myth or legend you must justify it. Disappointingly, perhaps, for those of us who never like the facts to get in the way of a good story, Ms Weir told me: 'There is no evidence at all that Eleanor visited Woodstock on her journey through Oxfordshire of December , though some historians have decided she must have done so.

All the same, in history, Henry II did indeed have a beautifully decorated tomb constructed for Rosamund at Godstow Nunnery, Oxford, where she died in or 7. In the 14th century, the French Chronicle of London gave a lurid account of how Eleanor murdered Rosamund at Woodstock in a particularly unpleasant fashion: she stripped her naked and roasted her between two fires and, with venomous toads between her breasts, let her bleed to death.

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Alison Weir, who lives in Surrey but often tours Oxfordshire to discover scenes of her subjects, is probably now our most popular historian her first book on Eleanor has sold more than , copies. But how did she get into the business in the first place, and how does she find time for her prodigious output? She said: 'At the age of 14, I was so enthralled by a lurid novel about Katherine of Aragon that I dashed off to read real history books about what I had read. A generation or two ago, few historians were content to be merely storytellers, but the wheel of fortune has turned.

And if any academic is sniffy about that, there is always Shakespeare, who certainly wrote 'faction'. In Domesday Book, there is a reference to the royal forest of Woodstock. This was the first zoological collection ever seen in England. In , Henry II gave Woodstock its royal charter and established a market in the town. His queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, owned the mill at Woodstock and personally supervised its accounts. It was here too, in July , that King Henry engaged in a heated public dispute with Archbishop Thomas Becket, in the early stages of their famous quarrel, a quarrel that would end cataclysmically with the horrifying murder of Becket in Canterbury Cathedral in But Becket did not always get away with his defiance.

The site of these ponds now lies mostly beneath the lake made by Capability Brown for the dukes of Marlborough, although some uneven ground along the lakeside around the spring conceals the foundations of the medieval buildings. It must have been an eerie and evocative place. In , Henry's queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine resided at Woodstock for two months. He added a crocodile to the menagerie. His brother, King John, stayed at the palace many times, and came there soon after signing the Magna Carta in It has been suggested that there was a deliberate attempt to recreate, in the pools, cloisters and orchards, the setting of the medieval romance of Tristan and Isolde.

Five hundred years later, John Aubrey drew a plan of the remains of Everswell, showing the ruins of a noble gatehouse, a seat and two niches, and three pools, with the largest still surrounded by what was left of the great cloister. In the main house, Henry III had a canopied throne and chambers with wall paintings, and wainscot, doors and shutters painted green. Henry relocated the menagerie to the Tower of London, where it remained until the nineteenth century. Security at the palace was poor. She heard the intruder searching for his intended victim and raised the alarm — just in time.

The culprit was executed at Coventry. After that, Henry ordered iron bars to be inserted in all his windows, and even had one placed across the vent in his privy!

Alice and Isabella, his daughters by his first wife, Eleanor of Castile, were both born here; both died young. In , his second queen, Marguerite of France, gave birth to their son, Thomas, at Woodstock. His daughter, Eleanor, was born in the palace in By the fourteenth century, Woodstock had become a straggling manor house complex with cloistered gardens and groves of fruit trees. It became a favoured summer retreat of Edward III and Queen Philippa, four of whose thirteen children were born there: Edward, Prince of Wales — later known as the Black Prince — in , Isabella, in — whose baptism was marked by a great tournament, Joan in , and Thomas, later Duke of Gloucester, in — his birth also being celebrated by a tournament.

Thomas was the last royal child to be born at Woodstock. In the fifteenth century, Woodstock was in the possession of Joanna of Navarre, the wife and widow of Henry IV, for 34 years. After her death in , it passed to King Henry VI, who visited a dozen times over the next twenty years, sometimes staying as long as six weeks. He would never see her again. The house was hung with tapestries, and even boasted its own royal wardrobe. Henry made his last visit with Katherine Parr, his sixth wife, during the progress that followed their wedding in The Lady Mary succeeded to the throne as Mary I in After the uprising was quelled, in February , Elizabeth was arrested and committed to the Tower of London, where, for three months, she lived in daily fear of being executed, as her cousin Lady Jane Grey had been.

On 17 April , at the intercession of King Philip, she was allowed to leave the place of her imprisonment and return to court.

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Lazarus in Bethany. Anne, and the Armenian Church of St. This aspect of the collection will be welcome not only to specialists but also to medievalists working on other regions of Europe whose familiarity with the Iberian material is more limited. Moreover, several of these chapters almost certainly will become starting-points and touchstones for future scholarship on their topics.

Impressively wide-ranging and brimming with detail and insight, Shadis charts the patronage of royal women from Teresa d. Glaire D. Rodrigues and Felipe Pereda. As Rodrigues notes, the particularities of later medieval Iberian matrimonial law, according to which these royal women received dowries from their parents as well as dowers from their husbands, meant that their potential as patrons substantially exceeded that of women religious and non-royal women. Both were actively involved in the decoration of these spaces and in shaping the funerary liturgies performed within them.

While most medievalists are by now accustomed to thinking about the potential agency of women with respect to the making of tomb monuments, textiles, illuminated manuscripts, and metalwork objects, many will be surprised to learn that royal and elite women sponsored the building of bridges. Bridge-building is also an activity associated with early medieval Scandinavian women, as Nancy L.

Wicker introduces us to the mothers, daughters, wives, and widows who, in addition to spinning, weaving, and embroidering textiles, raised inscribed runestones and bridge-stones, sponsored the construction of bridges, and commissioned and perhaps even made jewellery. Kogman-Appel considers illuminated Passover haggadot produced between the late thirteenth and late fifteenth centuries in several regions of medieval Europe, focusing on the depictions of the seder table that became a standard component of the image programs of these manuscripts. But should one read the figure of Claricia solely in a negative light?

When the psalter was closed, Claricia would have faced the Virgin and Child rather than turning her back on them. Might the very act of opening and closing the book have encouraged the devout reader to view Claricia as both an anti-model of vanity and sin, and, simultaneously, a model of repentance? As have most scholars, Mariaux assumes that Gofridus is the artist who carved this capital and others in the ambulatory. But can one be sure? The theme of the capital on which the Gofridus inscription appears is the Adoration of the Magi — the quintessential image of gift- giving in medieval Christian art.

In one year - - he made major discoveries relating to the moon, Milky Way, Jupiter's four large moons, sunspots, and the phases of Venus. He is also noted for being the This wealthy Italian family from Tuscany and Florence directed the destinies of Florence from the 15th century through This wealthy Italian family from Tuscany and Florence directed the destinies of Florence from the This Italian political philosopher's name has become synonymous with political intrigue.


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