DBQ #4 Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Angevin Empire.docx

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History, American
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Margaret Ingate

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DBQ ESSAY Donna Kwon November 18, 2007 Mrs. Hannah Social Studies Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Angevin Empire Many contemporary and later writings about Eleanor characterize her as a demon, a wanton woman, and the murderer of Henry’s mistress, Rosamunde. Henry II was an unfaithful husband, yet we hear less about his infidelities than about Eleanor’s behavior. What about Eleanor caused chroniclers to chastise her and excuse Henry’s conduct? Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204) was queen of France and England, and was married twice, first to King Louis VII of France and second to King Henry II. She was known as a demon, a wanton woman, and the murderer of Henry‟s, mistress, Rosamunde. However, there is evidence to prove that Henry II was an unfaithful husband. Documents such as document E describe Rosamunde as “a fair and comely dame”. From primary documents such as these we know that Rosamunde was extremely attractive and hard to stay away from, and that King Henry II was unfaithful for her. We don‟t hear about his wrongdoings as much as Eleanor‟s. Why is that? DBQ ESSAY Eleanor of Aquitaine was queen of both France and England, though she is known always as Eleanor of Aquitaine, which was a rich land of culture and refinement. When she was 15 years old, she married King Louis VLL, bringing her lands as a dowry, and made her court in Poitiers, Aquitaine. After they were married for fifteen years, with still no heir, she decided to initiate a divorce on the grounds of consanguinity. She then married King Henry II when she was 30. Though they were different in many ways, the marriage lasted for a while, though Henry was known to have affairs with Rosamunde. It was also rumored that Eleanor had affairs with other men, such as Henry‟s father. It was also said that Eleanor brought about the murder of Rosamunde, who died in 1176. In 1173, Henry‟s oldest son, Henry the younger, rebelled against him, encouraged by Eleanor who was tired of Henry‟s infidelities and eager to rule with her favorite son, Richard (also known as the Lion-Heart). However, Henry was able to quell the uprising and placed Eleanor in captivity in various castles for fifteen years. In 1183, Henry the younger rose up against his father once more, aided by his brothers and the new king of France. Henry the younger died along with his brother, Geoffrey, though Richard continued the revolt and eventually defeated Henry II. Richard began ruling as Richard I, and released Eleanor from her imprisonment. Though aged, she played a vital role in the politics of England and France until her death in 1204. What caused people to discredit her so? For one thing, we have to realize that Eleanor was a girl, which of course brought up prejudices. In Eleanor‟s time, women were treated rather poorly with little or no DBQ ESSAY rights. Women were not expected to speak up against their husbands. And for that matter, women were rarely allowed to choose their own husbands either. Marriages between powerful people were usually arranged so that others (*cough* “men” *cough*) could gain access to more power and land, as stated in document C, a letter by R
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