Posts Tagged Queens

Episode 86: Eleanor of Aquitaine Part One

Posted 26 March 2017 by
Tagged As: , , | Categories: Podcasts, Shownotes | Comments Off on Episode 86: Eleanor of Aquitaine Part One



You voted for Eleanor of Aquitaine in our last Guaranteed Content Poll. Excellent choice! The Queen of both France and England, and the mother of royalty, she contributed more than looking pretty in a crown – she ruled. And by that we mean, she RULED!


Eleanor’s seal

Eleanor was born in 1122 in Aquitaine- a huge swath of southwestern, modern-day France – andwas the first daughter of William X, Duke of Aquitaine and his wife Aenor. A sister, Aelith (called the more pronounceable, Petronilla) and a brother, William, would follow in short order. Her mother and younger brother died when Eleanor was young, which made her the heir presumptive to Aquitaine.

A bit of Medieval geography for ya.

A bit of Medieval geography for ya. (wikicommons)

Eleanor’s story is packed full of some juicy tales of affairs, schemes and politically motivated marriages…so full that it’s going to take us two episodes to tell them all = both factual and speculative (which is a nice word for “gossip.”) In that first paragraph? A nice one about William X’s father and Aenor’s mother being lovers-married-to-others and arranging the marriage between their two unenthusiastic children.

See what we mean?

Eleanor was a bit spoiled during her childhood. Educated, accomplished, charming, witty, beautiful, smart…and spoiled. That childhood ended when she was 15: her father died and she became the most eligible bachelorette in Christendom. Her father had made plans for her to marry King Louis VI’s teenage son, Louis VII, a mutually advantageous, political union. He had stipulated that Eleanor’s property was always to be in her name ntil it was passed to her sons (this is foreshadowing, by the way), and with his death, the plan was put in motion. As soon as the younger Louis could drag his entourage from Paris to Bordeaux (where she was holed up for safekeeping) the two were wed.

And then his father died. The King is dead; long live the King.

Louis VII had been fast-tracked through King School, hadn’t quite completed the requirements for graduation but he had the crown on his head and the Queen at his side. Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine, Countess of Poitou and Queen of France. Excellent! Teenagers in charge, what could possibly go wrong?

Really wrong. Paris wasn’t anything like the sophisticated Aquitaine of Eleanor’s youth and she struggled to clean the place up, introduce modernization and arts to court, all while a series of poor decisions on the new king’s part didn’t start their rule off on the best foot. To make things more complicated, there were no babies born in the first seven years of marriage. Not good.

This is the only relic from the marriage of Eleanor and Louis VII...a re-gifted vase. (pronounced, "vaaahzze.")

This is the only relic from the marriage of Eleanor and Louis VII…a re-gifted vase. (pronounced, “vaaahzze.”) (wikicommons)

At the open house of the Cathedral of Saint-Denis, she let a man come up with a plan she had JUST told him about…which led–sorta- to the birth of Eleanor and Louis’ first baby, a girl named Marie. (If you’re in the neighborhood, in Paris, you can visit that cathedral! Here’s a link Basilica de Saint-Denis.)


A major eff…mess-up on Louis’ part led to the death of a thousand innocent villagers- he knew he was on the wrong path and decided that the right one was from Paris to Jerusalem, leading the Second Crusade. We give you a Crusades primer in the show–the super simplified version: A series of territorial, political and holy wars between European Christians and Muslim Turks over control of the Holy Lands.

“Sounds like a great couples’ adventure,” said Eleanor. (Probably.)

Whatever her reasons, Eleanor and a few hundred other noble wives and women of lessor rank set off with the Crusaders. It began well enough, but didn’t take long to go sideways. It was a rough “adventure” and, after two years, both the Crusade and the marriage of Eleanor and Louis had fallen apart.

Even though Papal Couples Therapy resulted in the birth of a second child, another girl, Alix, both parties had enough. Louis wanted a son, Eleanor wanted away from her monk of a husband and, citing consanguinity (too closely related for God’s blessing) they were granted an annulment. Louis got custody of the girls, Eleanor got out of town and headed back toward the property that she brought into the marriage that was hers, alone, again.

Yadda yadda, two months later 30 year-old Eleanor turned up married to the handsome, 18 year-old Henry, Duke of Normandy…and next in line to inherit the throne of England.

How did this happen so quickly? What’s “yadda yadda?!”

Come back for part two and we’ll tell you.

All media recommendations will be on the shownotes for part two.

You’ll have three weeks before that posts, plenty of time to fall in love with this book:





Because Beckett promised:



Shownotes Episode 31:Lady Jane Grey

Posted 30 September 2012 by
Tagged As: , , , , , , | Categories: Shownotes | Comments Off on Shownotes Episode 31:Lady Jane Grey

Often listed as merely an asterisk in history, Lady Jane Grey did have a part in the tale of the Tudors and in the succession of the crown. A teeeny tiny part, but a part nonetheless. Her young life and limited time on the throne may have been short, but it was long on drama. Did she end up remembered as the Nine Day Queen because of manipulation and lust for power? Whose? Was she a puppet or did she know what she was doing? The brief life and rule of this teenage royal is worth a bit of a chat, don’t you think? We did.

Jane Grey was born in October of 1537 (or perhaps in 1536) to Lord Henry and Lady Frances Grey. If you like a little title with your history, that would be the Marquees of Dorset and Frances Brandon, niece to King Henry VIII.  Frances’ mother was Mary- the sister of  Henry- and her father was Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk and life long frat bro of Henry. Later, after his and Frances’ brothers’ deaths, Frances would inherit the titles and she and  Henry would become the Duke and Duchess of Suffolk .

Jane was also born about the same time as her cousin Prince Edward, son of Henry VIII.  Linking Edward to Jane was an easy move on the part of her parents. Cousins marrying was far from unheard of, and Jane was raised with this goal in mind. To add a little more incentive to the mix – as the only son of the king, Edward was next in line to the throne. They had so much in common- Edward was was raised Protestant- just like Jane. If you have paid any attention to our ongoing Tudors series (and you should, it’s very interesting) religion plays a big part in the story. (And we always explain more in our podcast than in these notes).

Jane and her sisters Katherine and Mary (yes, we have heard those names before) were educated at home, taught to read Latin, Greek, French, Italian and groomed for well placed marriages that would bring the family more power. At nine, Jane’s guardianship was given to Katherine Parr, the then-wife of Henry VIII. Upon his death, and Katherine’s subsequent marriage to Thomas Seymour (we cover this in the Four Wives podcast) Jane’s wardship was turned over to the Seymours. Why? Because it was thought that this was the best way to arrange a marriage between Jane the new king, Edward VI- a marriage that would suit all parties involved.

This portrait is often cited as being of Jane Grey, but there is much dispute that it is, in fact, of Katherine Parr. Actually, a great number of portraits that were believed to be Jane were proven to be someone else. Rather than be frustrated,we think it's fun to watch what we think was known reveal itself to be something else entirely. It's like a game!

But Katherine died in childbirth a short time later. And Thomas followed her to death when he was executed a year after that. Jane’s guardianship was up for grabs again, and who better to secure her future as queen than the chief counselor to King Edward, John Dudley, the Duke of Northumberland.

Dudley was a very powerful man in a sweet position, who wanted to remain that way. He knew that if Edward produced an heir,  Edward’s sisters, Mary or Elizabeth, would not  rule, toss him out…or worse.  But if he could marry Jane to the king- who was also in line to the throne (via her mother who was willing to let it pass to Jane) he might just be able to hold onto all that was near and dear to him. Like his head.

But his plan was flawed. Edward became very ill and it was clear he would not live to marry, let alone produce an heir.

So in a swift coordinated effort with Jane’s parent’s-Dudley married 15 year-old  Jane off to his only marriageable son, Guilford. It was a hot mess of a wedding that also married off his daughter and one of Jane’s sisters to well-placed men. When Edward died very shortly afterward, Dudley did a fancy dance of deceit – badda bing, Jane is Queen. Everyone is happy.

Except just about everyone who wasn’t related to Jane. The people were scratching their heads, “Queen Who?”

Except Jane who never wanted to be Queen and was frightfully unprepared for the position.

Oh, yeah, and  except for Mary who foiled a plot of Dudley’s to have her thrown in the Tower of London and knew that it was her turn to rule.  Mary knew that she was entitled to the crown, and she had the support of the people behind her (We do cover all of this time in the Mary I podcast).

For nine days Jane was Queen Jane. And then Mary took care of that.

Mary tossed Jane and Guilford in the tower, where they remained for several months. It wasn’t horrible living conditions, but it was imprisonment. Rumor has it that this tribute, in the Beauchamp Tower, was carved for his wife by Guilford himself . This humanizes him a bit ( which his legacy totally needs).

Courtesy Lara E. Eakins at (see link below)

At first, Mary did not want to execute them. However, an ill-fated attempt to over-throw Mary -led by Jane’s own father- made Mary think that this decision was necessary.

On February 12, 1554, less than a year after being imprisoned, Lady Jane Grey and her husband Guilford were beheaded.

The Execution of Lady Jane Grey by, Paul Delarouche (This one we know is her, her name is in the title)


An website with an easy read of her life, .

Or this one with a very lengthy description, as well as some links to outside sources (although not all the links are currently functioning) .

And finally, a really thorough one about all things Tudor,

Want to travel around through the Tower of London (and other historic places of England?) not exactly like being there, but  much simpler.

Ooh, an internet museum? Love that, lots of clicking to do on this one, although it doesn’t look like it has been updated recently. But really, unless there is new information, that’s not entirely necessary, right? Lady Jane Grey Internet Museum

Tweet what, you say? We love it when we find an active twitter for one of our women- Lady Jane Grey Info.

Of course we have some book recommendations, have you just met us?

Non- Fiction: The Nine Days Queen by Mary Luke

Fiction- Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir

The Sisters who would be Queen by, Leanda De Lisle (Non-fiction)

And a movie, that isn’t exactly historically accurate (are any of them?)  and we dare you not to have Princess Bride quotes running in your head if you watch it!

1986- Lady Jane with Helena Bonham Carter and Cary Elwes