Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Queen of Troubadours

Eleanor of Aquitaine in England.
 Little do we know about the personality of the queen whose wooden funerary effigy lies under the main dome in the Abbey of Fontevrault. Eleanor of Aquitaine died in 1204, though the exact place where she passed from the world is not known for sure: according to some chroniclers, she ended her life in Poitiers; according to others, she was taken to Fontevrault “where she put on the garb of a nun before closing her eyes”. Her hands are holding a book, most probably a prayer book, the Holy Bible – or, why not, a courtly romance… The granddaughter of William IX of Aquitaine – the first known troubadour –, Eleanor, was born in 1122 or 1124, somewhere in the far south of Aquitaine, probably in Bordeaux or Belin, where she spent her early childhood before moving to Poitiers after 1130. “Charming”, “welcoming” and “lively”, as Geoffroi de Vigeois described her, she exercised an unquestionable influence in the development and popularisation of the new courtly sensibility in France. Highly intelligent and well-educated – she probably knew Latin, Eleanor was the great patron of the two dominant poetic movements of the time: the courtly love tradition, conveyed in the songs of the troubadours, and the historical Matter of Britain, best represented in Chrétien de Troyes’ roman courtois. (Read entire article.)

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