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ELEANORA OF AQUITAINE,
QUEEN OF HENRY JI.
CHAPTER I. HEREDITARY sovereign of Aquitaine, by her first marriage queen France, then queen-consort of Henry II., and subsequently regent liis realms,-how many regalities did Eleanora of Aquitaine unite her own person! England, by means of the marriage of her king and Eleanora, formed a close alliance with the most polished and civilized people on the face of the earth, as the Provençals of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries undoubtedly were. With the arts, the idealities, and the refinements of life, Eleanora brought acquisitions of more importance to the Anglo-Norman 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 into this dukedom, after the ancient kingdom of Provence, established by a diet of Charlemagne," had been dismembered. Julius Cæsar calls the south of Gaul Aquitaine, from the numerous rivers and fine ports belonging to it; and the poetic population of this district adopted the name for their dukedom from the classics.
The language which prevailed all over the south of France was Provençal, from the kingdom of Provence; and 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 Provençal language spoken,-a language which combined the best points of French and
1 Atlas Géographique.
165 lian, and presented peculiar facilities for poetical composition. It s called the langue d'oc, sometimes langue d’oc et no, the tongue of ies” and “no;" because instead of the oui and non of the rest of ince, the affirmative and negative were oc and no. The ancestors of anora were called par excellence the lords of " Oc” and “ No." illiam IX., her grandfather, was one of the earliest professors and ost liberal patrons of the art. His poems were models of imitation all the succeeding troubadours. The descendants of this minstrel hero were Eleanora and her sister tronilla : they were the daughters of his son, William, count de itou. William of Poitou was a pious prince, which, together with his ith in the Holy Land, caused his father's subjects to call him St. illiam. The mother of this prince was the great heiress Philippa? Thoulouse
, duchess of Guienne and Gascony, and countess of Thouse in her own right. Before Philippa married, her husband was Wiln the seventh, count of Poitou and Saintonge ; afterwards he called aselt William IV., duke of Aquitaine. He invested his eldest son h the county of Poitou, who is termed William X. of Poitou. This ace, the father of Eleanora, did not live to inherit the united proces of Poitou and Aquitaine, which comprised nearly the whole of south of France ; his wife, Eleanora of Chatelherault, died in early
in 1129. The grandfather of Eleanora had been gay, and even licentious in his
I now, at the age of sixty-eight, he wished to devote some le, before his death, to penitence for the sins of his early life. hen his grand-daughter had attained her fourteenth year, he comnced his career of self-denial, by summoning the baronage of Aquine and communicating his intention of abdicating in favour of his ınd-daughter, to whom they all took the oath of allegiance. He an opened his great project of uniting Aquitaine with France, by ving Eleanora in marriage to the heir of Louis VI. The barons reed to this proposal, on condition that the laws and customs of
quitaine should be held inviolate, and that the consent of the young incess should be obtained. Eleanora had an interview with her suitor, d professed herself pleased with the arrangement. It was abbot Suger,* the wise premier of France, who had earnestly Sismondi's Literature.
acolyte, and finally became one of the most She is likewise called Matilda. — Rer. ipt. de Franc.
Philippe I., king of France, contided the eduSuger. Ord. Vit. This great minister being intimately dictines of St. Denis; and here a firm nected with the future destiny of Elear friendship was established between the son a of Aquitaine, a sketch of his life is desi- of the king and Suger, son of the serf. By u. le for purpose of perspicuity. Suger strange accident,
the heir of Philippe I. was 1, according to his own account, the son killed at the chase, and the friend of Suger ndigent peasants, dependent on the great became Louis
VI., 'king of France. Then he bey of St. Denis, near Paris. Being a effected, with the aid of his friend abbot mising child, he served at the altar as Suger, those remarkable reforms in church
learned monks of the Benedictine order.
cation of his second son Louis to the Bene
promoted the marriage of the crowned heir of his royal master Louis with Eleanora of Aquitaine, in hopes of peacefully uniting the provinces of the South with the rest of the Gallic empire.' Accordin to the custom of the earlier Capetian monarchs, the peers of Frane recognised the heir of France as their king just before the death his royal sire. From thence the spouse of Eleanora was surnamed Low le Jeune, to distinguish him from his father, as he was called Louis VI while Louis VI. was not only in existence, but reigning.
Suger, by the desire of the elder king Louis, who was declining i health, accompanied Louis le Jeune to Bordeaux, in order that thi important marriage might be solemnized as speedily as possible: heir of France was attended by his two kinsmen, the warlike prince o Vermandois, and Thibaut the poet, count of Champagne.
Louis and Eleanora were immediately married, with great pomp, Bordeaux ; and, on the solemn resignation of duke William, the youth ful pair were crowned duke and duchess of Aquitaine, August 1137. On the conclusion of this grand ceremony, duke William grandsire of the bride, laid down his robes and insignia of sovereignty and took up the hermit's cowl and staff. He departed on a pilgrimage to St. James's of Compostella in Spain, and died soon after in one of the cells of that rocky wilderness.
Louis and his bride obtained immediate possession of Poitou, Gascony, Biscay, and a large territory extending beyond the Pyrenees. The very day of the threefold solemnity of this abdication, and of the marriage and coronation of Eleanora, the news arrived that the reigning sovereign of France was stricken with mortal illness. The bride and bridegroom were urged by the minister, Suger, to set off for Paris. They accordingly commenced their journey from Bordeaux with all their court; they passed through Orleans, and calmed some discontents of the French people on the road. Louis VI. survived, however, and when the royal bride and bridegroom arrived at the abbey of St. Denis, they were to the death-bed of this great sovereign, who addressed them in these memorable words, “Remember! royalty is a public trust, for the exerand state, which occasion historians to reckon war-cry whose origin has not a little pet: his reign among those of the greatest mo- plexed the readers of English history. The narchs of France. Suger educated Louis VII., patron saint of England, St. George
, was and after his accession, governed France adopted from the Aquitaine dukes : * as prime-minister, then as regent, and find, from the MS. of the French berald, again as prime-minister. Suger, although Gilles de Bonnier, that the duke of Aquitaine's an ecclesiastic, had sufficient wisdom to mot, or war-cry, was “ St. George for the moderate, rather than encourage, the ten- puissant duke." His crest was a dency to ascetic bigotry in the character and and his descendants in England bore leo conduct of the husband of Eleanora of Aqui- pards on their shields till after the time of taine, his royal pupil and master, Louis VII.
Edward III. is called " -Vie de Suger, par M. d'Auvigny. Paris, pard” in his
epitaphs ; and the emperor of
Germany sent Henry Ill. a present of three i To this great prince, the ancestor, leopards, expressly saying they were in com through Eleanora of Aquitaine, of our royal pliment and allusion to his armorial bearings. line, may be traced armorial bearings, and a
2 Vie de Suger.
Enters Paris as bride of Louis VII.
167 se of which a rigorous account will be exacted by Him who has the - de disposal of crowns and sceptres.” So spoke the great legislator of
rance to the youthful pair, whose wedlock had united the north and juth of France. On the conscientious mind of Louis VII, the words [ his dying father were strongly impressed, but it was late in life efore his thoughtless partner profited by them.
Louis VII. and queen Eleanora made a most magnificent entry into Paris from St. Denis, after the funeral rites of Louis VI. were performed. Probably the practice kept up by the new-married queens of France, of always making a public entry from St. Denis into the capital, originated at this important crisis.
The influence the young queen soon acquired, speedily plunged her husband and France into bloody wars. She insisted on her relative, Raymond, count of Thoulouse, being forced to acknowledge her sovereignty over that province. The prime-minister of France, Suger, examined into the justice of her claims, and then informed her that her kinsman had fully proved that he held “* a good bill of sale for Thoulouse.” Suger, therefore, advised his royal master not to interfere; for even if the justice of the case had been on the side of queen Eleanora, it was unwise to incur the expense of war at the commencement of a new reign. Eleanora, however, prevailed with her royal lord : the war was undertaken, and proved unsuccessful.
Elcanora was very beautiful ; she had been reared in all the accomplishments of the South ; she was a fine musician, and composed and sang the chansons and tensons of Provençal poetry. Her native troubadours expressly inform us that she could both read and write. The government of her dominions was in her own hands, and she frequently resided in her native capital at Bordeaux. She was perfectly adored by her southern subjects, who always welcomed her with joy, and bitterly mourned her absence when she was obliged to return to her court at Paris, –a court where morals were severe; the rigid rule of St. Bernard being observed by the king her husband, as if his palace had been a content, Far different was the rule of Eleanora in the cities of the
The political sovereignty of her native dominions was not the only authority exercised by Eleanora in "gay Guienne.” She was by hereditary right, chief reviewer and critic of the poets of Provence. At Certain festivals beld by her, after the custom of her ancestors, called Courts of Love, all new sirventes and chansons were sung or recited before her by the troubadours. She then, assisted by a conclave of her ladies
, sat in judgment, and pronounced sentence on their literary merits. She was herself a popular troubadour poet. Her chansons Were remembered long after death had raised a barrier against flattery, and she is reckoned among the authors of France. The decisions of the young duchess-queen in her troubadour Courts of Love, have met with
the reprobation of modern French historians, on account of their immorality.
The amusements of queen Eleanora seemed little suited to the austere habits of Louis VII. ; yet she had the power of influencing him to commit the only act of wilful injustice which stains the annals of his reign. Her sister Petronilla had made acquaintance with Raoul, count of Vermandois, at the magnificent festival at Bordeaux. The beauty of Petronilla equalled that of queen Eleanora, and with still greater laxity of principles, she seduced Raoul of Vermandois from his wife. This prince had married a sister of the count of Champagne, whom he divorced for some frivolous pretext, and married Petronilla. The count of Champagne laid his sister's wrongs before the pope, who commanded Vermandois to put away Petronilla, and to take back the injured sister of Champagne. Queen Eleanora, enraged at the dishonour of Petronilla, prevailed on her husband to punish the count of Champagne for his interference. Louis VII., who already had cause of offence against the count, invaded Champagne at the head of a large army, and began a devastating war, in the course of which a most dreadful occurrence happened at the storming of Vitry: the cathedral, wherein thirteen hundred persons had taken refuge, was burnt, and the puor people perished miserably. Abbé Suger, having in the question of the Thoulouse war experienced the evil influence of the young queen,
had resigned his administration, and retired to his abbey of St. Denis ; there he superintended the building of that beautiful structure, which is still the admiration of Europe. But when the dreadful slaughter at Vitry took place, Suger was roused by the reproofs of his friend St. Bernard, who declared him to be responsible for all the ill, since Louis VII
. had previously always acted by his advice. Suger in vain pleaded that his king had now a bosom counsellor, who privately traversed his best advice; that he had striven against her influence to the verge of hostility with his king, and had retired, when he found he could do no good, to his duties as abbot, leaving the giddy Eleanora to reap the fruit she had planted.
It was at this juncture that St. Bernard preached the crusade at Vezelai, in Burgundy. King Louis and queen Eleanora, with all their court, came to hear the elöquent saint; and such crowds attended the royal auditors, that St. Bernard was forced to preach in the marketplace, for no cathedral, however large, could contain them. St. Bernard touched with so much eloquence on the murderous conflagration at Vitry, that the heart of the pious king Louis, full of penitence for the sad effects of his destructiveness on his own subjects, resolved to atone for it to the God of mercy, by carrying sword and fire to destroy thousands of his fellow-creatures, who had neither offended him, nor even heard of
1 Vie de Suger.