Eleanor of Aquitaine

Eleanor of Aquitaine

Eleanor of Aquitaine

Eleanor of Aquitaine

Excerpt

Romance offers no more brilliant picture than does the story of Eleanor of Aquitaine, wife of two powerful medieval monarchs, and mother of two more -- one of them a villain, the other, the most famous warrior of his time. Her life was entwined with the great ones of her age. It plunged her into adventure after adventure, and led her from one extremity of the known world to the other. And hers was a long life. She made her first entrance on the public stage as a bride at the age of fifteen, and held her place upon it for three score years. After her last dramatic act, the defense of a besieged castle, she made her exit at the age of eighty-two.

Eleanor played a passionate part in a passionate age. For the twelfth century seethed with creative force. Its men and women brought forth the pageants of the Crusades, the wonder of the Cathedrals, the busy hives of the Universities, the Scholastics' acutely reasoned orderings of knowledge, the sonorous Latin hymns which ring down the ages, the songs of the troubadours, the magic fantasy of Arthurian tale.

And all the ordered turmoil of this age thrived in an atmosphere of emotional conflict, contradictory yet consistent. An ideal goal, eternal happiness in the world to come, had been for hundreds of years held before these childlike, half-barbaric peoples with an unparalleled insistence by an organization unique in human history. For six centuries medieval society had been drilled and led upward by the Church. To their wondering imaginations, Jehovah in all his majesty had been presented with authority. Before their terror-stricken eyes, the Church had held up the consequences of sin, the eternal penalties of a burning Hell. They trem-

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