« AnteriorContinuar »
one blow of his club extinguished the lamp, and its light for ever. Like that fabled philosopher did the inhabitants of the cloister feed the lamp of science and learning; and, like him, carefully guard its dying flame through long ages from extinction. But here the parallel ceases; for, more generous than the fabled Rosicrucius, they fostered the dim flame through centuries of storm and tempest, that far distant ages might rejoice in its light.
ELINOR OF AQUITAINE.
Parentage of Elinor—Marriage with Louis VII. of France—The Second Crusade—Her Journey to Palestine—Divorced from Louis—Her Marriage to Henry Plantagenet—Accession to the English Crown— Inauguration of her Son Richard, as Duke of Aquitaine—Thomas a Becket—FamilyDissentions—Imprisonment of Elinor—Fitz Stephen's Description of London—Plantagenet's Second Contest with his Sons— His Death,
The memoirs of few illustrious women, who have worn a crown, present scenes of more romantic and changeful interest than those of the wife of the first Plantagenet, the mother of Coeur de Lion, the beautiful heiress of the seven fair provinces of Aquitaine, that splendid dower which added a third lion to the shield of England—a bearing which retains its place, even to the present day, in the royal arms.
Elinor # of Aquitaine was the eldest daughter of William, its tenth duke, the son of that William of
• The correct spelling of this name is Alianor; since the French chroniclers, who assert that the subject of this memoir was the first who bore the name, state, that it was a compound of "Alia" and "Enor." A similar spelling is adopted for both the succeeding queens who bore the same name, both by the French and Latin historians. As, however, the name is so completely naturalized among us as Elinor, it seemed mere pedantry to adopt the less common, although certainly the more correct, form.
Aquitaine, whose name stands first on the list of those warrior-minstrels, who successfully cultivated the "gai saber," and of Enor of Chaterhault. This tenth duke, who, like his troubadour father, seems to have borne a very indifferent character, resolved upon making a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. James Compostella; and, ere he set out, he bequeathed his extensive territories to his eldest daughter Elinor, upon condition of a marriage with the heir to the crown of France. This arrangement was eagerly acceded to by king Louis, who sent his son early in 1137 with a splendid suite to Bordeaux, where the marriage was celebrated with great magnificence. The ceremonies of the inauguration of young Louis, as duke of Aquitaine, and of the coronation of Elinor, as future queen of France, were but just completed when the elder Louis died, and the youthful pair—Louis who had but just completed his eighteenth year, and Elinor her thirteenth—were, on the 1st of August 1137, hailed king and queen of France.
Of the education which Elinor received, of her conduct or character, during the nine years which preceded her journey to Palestine, not the slightest account can be obtained, excepting the brief notice that she was very beautiful. All the French chronicles pass over the high-spirited Elinor as completely as though she had not existed. A conclusion favourable on the whole to her moral character, may be drawn from this absence of all notice respecting her for so long a period, especially in connexion with other circumstances; since, had Elinor been so profligate as some of the later French writers have been accustomed to regard her, it is scarcely possible that, for almost ten years, her conduct should have excited no suspicion, and that Louis should so willingly have allowed her to accompany him to Palestine.
The circumstances which induced the weak and versatile Louis to set forth as the leader of a second crusade, are briefly these:—The chapter of Bourges having, during the year 1146, elected an archbishop without the king's permission, Louis, enraged at this infringement of his prerogative, declared that he whom they had chosen should not be archbishop; and commanded them to proceed to a new election. The chapter refused; the Pope supported their cause; and Pierre de la Chatre, retiring into the domains of Thibaut, count of Champagne, launched the thunders of the church against the king. A war commenced between Louis and the count; but ere it concluded, a new source of bitterness sprung up. Rudolph, count Vermandois, a relative of the king and his chief minister, had divorced his wife, and had married Petronilla, the sister of the queen. The repudiated wife was sister to the count of Champagne; and he, enraged at this insult, solicited the pope to send a legate into France to review the proceedings. These, the legate on his arrival declared to be null; and he charged Rudolph to separate from his second wife, and take back the first. The king, more than ever provoked, made a second incursion into Champagne, where, having taken the town of Vitri, he caused the church, in which thirteen hundred persons had taken refuge, to be burnt, and they all perished. This atrocious act, which the chroniclers regard as the effect of sudden exasperation, was followed by immediate and bitter, and (judging from his after conduct) sincere repentance. Louis forthwith made peace with the count of Champagne, admitted the archbishop to his see, and anxiously sought other means by which he might testify the depth and sincerity of his repentance. While under the fresh influence of this feeling, the summons, addressed by the enthusiastic St. Bernard to the princes and protestants of Christian Europe, to go forth to the now tottering kingdom of Jerusalem, seemed as the call of Heaven y and with willing heart did the sorrowing king of France proffer himself to become the leader of a second crusade.
"At Easter," says his chronicler, "the glorious king Louis, in whom zeal for the faith thus shone forth and burnt," * summoned a council of nobles and prelates at Vizila, in Burgundy, for considering the subject,—a meeting which was so numerously attended, that the title by which the contemporary French chroniclers designate it is, " Magnum Parliamentum." To this great council so many repaired, that no church being large enough to hold the vast assemblage, they met in the open air. A platform was erected, from whence St. Bernard and the king, who first solemnly received the cross from the hands of his enthusiastic coadjutor, addressed in
* Vita Lud, VII. Vide Recueil des Ilistoriens de France, tome 12.