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ELEANORA OF AQUITAINE,

QUEEN OF HENRY II.

CHAPTER L

Provencal Queens—Country of Eleanors of Aquitaine—Her grandfather — Death of her father — Her great inheritance — Marriage with the heir of France — Abdication of her grandfather in her favour — South and North of France united — Becomes Queen of France—Beauty—Courts of the North and South—Improprieties of her sister—Queen and King of France become crusaders—Court ladies assume the cross—Eleanora's guard of Amazons—Fantastic behaviour— Eleanora and ladies encumber the army—Occasion defeatRefuge with Queen's uncle—Eleanora's coquetries—Hurried to Jerusalem—Returns to France—Intrigue—King Louis projects divorce— Dissuaded—Eleanora's daughter— Queen's disgusts—Taunts—First sees Henry Plantagenet—Scandals—Birth of infant Princess—Falls in love with Henry—Jealousies—Queen applies for divorce—Her marriage dissolved—Eleanora of Aquitaine leaves Paris—Adventures on journey—Arrives at Aquitaine—Marries Henry Plantagenet—Birth of her son—Enables Henry to gain England—He embarks with her fleet—Success—Henry's love for Rosamond—Returns to EleanorsSucceeds to the English throne—Eleanora crowned at Westminster— Queen of England—Costume—Bermondsey—Birth of Prince Henry —London—Commercial advantages—Queen presents her infants to the Barons—Death of eldest son—Her court—Tragedy played before her—Progresses—Her hushand—His character—Rosamond—Discovered by the Queen—Rosamond retires to Godstow—Eleanora's children—Second coronation—Birth of Prince Geoffrey—Constance of Bretagne—Eleanora Regent of England—Goes to Normandy—Marriage of her eldest son—Conclusion of Empress Matilda's memoirMatilda Regent of Normandy—Meditates peace—Dies—Tomb—Eleanora Norman Regent—Marriage of her eldest daughter—Revolts in Aquitaine—Queen goes thither—Remains with her son Richard—Coronation of her eldest son.

The memoir of the consort of Henry II. commences the biographies of a series of Provencal princesses, with whom the earlier monarchs of our royal house of Plantagenet allied themselves for upwards of a century. Important effects, not only on the domestic history of the court of England, but on the commerce and statistics of our country, may be traced to its union, by means of this queen, with the most polished and civilised people on the face of the earth, as the Provencals of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries indisputably were. With the arts, the idealities, and the refinements of life, Eleanora brought acquisitions of more importance to the AngloNorman people than even that "great Provence dower," on which Dante dwells with such earnestness.

But before the sweet provinces of the south were united to England by the marriage of their heiress with the heir of the Conqueror, a varied tissue of incidents had chequered the life of the Duchess of Aquitaine, and it is necessary to trace them before we can describe her conduct as Queen of England.

It would be in vain to search on a map for the dominions of Eleanora, under the title of dukedom of Aquitaine. In the eleventh century the counties of Guienne and Gascony were erected into this dukedom, after the ancient kingdom of Provence, established by a diet of Charlemagne,1 had been dismembered. Julius Caesar calls the south of Gaul Aquitaine, from the numerous rivers and fine ports belonging to it; and the poetical population of this district adopted a name for their dukedom from the classics.

From the kingdom of Provence, the language which prevailed all over the south of France was called Provencal; it formed a bond of national union among the numerous independent sovereigns under whose feudal sway this beautiful country was divided. Throughout the whole tract of country from Navarre to the dominions of the Dauphin of Auvergne, and from sea to sea, the Provencal language was spoken—a language which combined the best points of French and Italian, and presented peculiar facilities for poetical composition. It was called the langue d'oc, the tongue of " yes " and "no;" because, instead of the "oui" and "non" of the rest of France, the affirmative and negative were "oc" and "no" The ancestors of Eleanor were called par excellence the Lords of « Oc" and "No." William IX., her grandfather, was one of the earliest professors and most liberal patrons of the art. His poems were models of imitation for all the succeeding troubadours.2

The descendants of this minstrel hero were Eleanora and her sister Petronilla. They were the daughters of his son William Count de Poitou, by one of the daughters of Raymond of Thoulouse.1 He was a pious prince, which, together with his death in the Holy Land, caused his father's subjects to call him St. William. The mother of this prince was the great heiress Philippa of Thoulouse, Duchess of Guienne and Gascony, and Countess of Thoulouse in her own right. She married William, the ninth Count of Poitou and Saintonge, which united nearly the whole of the south of France in one family. After this great marriage, her husband assumed the title of William, the fourth Duke of Aquitaine, while he invested his son William with the county of Poitou, who was reckoned William the tenth of Poitou. The rich inheritance of Thoulouse, part of the dower of the Duchess Philippa, was pawned for a sum of money to the Count of St. Gilles, her cousin, which enabled her husband to undertake the expense of the crusade led by Robert of Normandy. This count took possession of Thoulouse, and withheld it as a forfeited mortgage from Eleanora, who finally inherited her grandmother's rights to this lovely province.

1 Atlas Geograpbique.

Sismondi's Literature of the South.

The father of Eleanora left Aquitaine in 1132, with his younger brother Raymond of Poitou, who was chosen by the princes of the crusade that year to receive the hand of the heiress of Conrad Prince of Antioch, and maintain that bulwark of the Holy Land against the assaults of pagans and infidels. William fell aiding his brother in this arduous contest, but Raymond succeeded in establishing himself as Prince of Antioch.

1 Rer. Script, de Franc.; likewise Suger.

The grandfather of Eleanora had been gay and even licentious in his youth, and now, at the age of sixty-eight, he wished to devote some time before his death to meditation and penitence for the sins of his youth. When his granddaughter had attained her fourteenth year, he commenced his career of self-denial, by summoning the baronage of Aquitaine, and communicating his intention of abdicating in favour of his granddaughter, to whom they all took the oath of allegiance.1 He then opened his grand project of uniting Aquitaine with France, by giving Eleanora in marriage to the heir of Louis le Gros.2 The barons agreed to this proposal, on condition that the laws and customs of Aquitaine should be held inviolate, and that the consent of the young princess should be obtained. Eleanora had an interview with her suitor, and professed herself pleased with the arrangement .

Louis and Eleanora were immediately married with great pomp at Bordeaux; and on the solemn resignation of Duke William, the youthful pair were crowned Duke and Duchess of Aquitaine, August 1, 1137.

On the conclusion of this grand ceremony, Duke William,3 grandsire of the bride, laid down his robes and insignia of sovereignty, and took up the hermit's cowl

1 Suger. Ordericus Vitalis.

'Called Le Jeune, to distinguish him from his father Louis VI.

'Montaigne, who speaks from his own local traditions of the South, asserts that Duke William lived in bis hermitage ten or twelve years, wearing, as a penance for his youthful sins, his armour under his hermit's weeds. It is said by others that he died as a hermit in a grotto at Florence, after having macerated his body by tremendous penances, and established the severe Order of the Guillemines.

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