Book 17 – April Queen by Douglas Boyd

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I don’t often read biography, but saw this in the library and decided to give it a go. Eleanor of Aquitaine was an extraordinary woman who lived a remarkable life, though one very much defined by the society she lived in. Heiress in her own right to Aquitaine, she married the king of all the Franks, divorced him and then married the soon-to-be king of England. She travelled to the Holy Land on the second Crusade, plotted and strategised across Europe and spent much of adult life imprisoned by one or other of her husbands.

All this is fascinating stuff. The difficulty with this book was that there is very little primary source material available about Eleanor herself, other than narrative accounts written by people who were probably her enemies. Large sections of the book are detailed narrative accounts of key events of the day, where Eleanor barely gets a mention; for example the troubled relationship between Henry II and Thomas a Becket and its bloody end.

I enjoyed the descriptions of courtly life, particularly when Eleanor was young. I got bored later in the book with page after page of consipracy, plot, intrigue, betrayal, battles, raising taxes and gory death.

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