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Eleanor of Aquitaine

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Eleanor of Aquitaine

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Description

Aims

  • Preserve your position as Queen
  • Ensure that Richard is named as Henry's heir
  • Get Henry to release you from prison

Background

You are a tired old woman.  In your youth you were one of the most eligible heiresses in Europe, after your father died leaving you with control of the Duchy of Aquitaine.  You married Louis of France at the age of 15, becoming Queen of France But the marriage did not work; you squabbled over politics, you did not provide him with a son, and the Northern barons hated you.  Together, you sought an annulment.  Just six weeks after it was granted you married Henry Plantagenet, with whom you had been having a covert affair.  

Henry became King of England, and you bore him four sons and three daughters.  But things did not always go smoothly - he strayed constantly and sired a string of bastards.  After your youngest child, John, was born, you returned to Aquitaine and established your own court there, separate from your husband's. 

As your sons grew up, they wanted land and power of their own. A decade ago, the three eldest - Young Henry, Richard, and Geoffrey, rebelled against Henry and allied themselves with your former husband, the King of France to seize land and power for themselves.  Henry put down the rebellion, but at great cost.  You had helped incite the rebellion, after hearing that Henry was publicly flaunting his latest mistress, Rosamund Clifford.  In retaliation, he had you imprisoned.   As a result, you have spent the last decade being moved from one dreary fortress to another, denied access to your children or the court.  As for Rosamund, the cause of your hatred, she died - though contrary to the rumours you did not poison her.

From inside your prison walls you have heard that Henry has continued to take mistresses.  His latest is Alais, the half-sister of the King of France, who came to your court as a ward when she was only a child.  She is betrothed to your son Richard, though Henry has repeatedly delayed the marriage to prevent him from becoming closer to the French court.  If Richard can be persuaded to publicly repudiate her, then she will be forced to return to France, which will annoy Henry and remove any threat she poses to you.

You had also heard that your sons continued to fight one another over their inheritance. This has now had tragic results. Earlier this year, you had a vision of Young Henry asleep, at peace, wearing a sapphire ring you recognised as belonging to your husband, and with a saint's halo hovering above his head.  The next day a messenger informed you of his death.  He and Geoffrey had been fighting against Richard and Henry in Poitou when he contracted dysentery.  He had apparently begged to see his father as he lay dying, so he could ask forgiveness, but Henry had refused to come out of fear that it was a trap, and had sent only the ring.  And so your son died alone.  You blame your husband for his death; if he had trusted Young Henry and given him land and responsibility, he would not have felt the need to rebel, they would not have fought, and your son would still be alive.  But you also blame yourself.  After all, you helped turn him against his father...

Young Henry's death means that your husband must decide on a new successor.  As the eldest surviving son, Richard is the obvious choice, and should inherit.  But you have heard that Henry favours John. You cannot allow your favourite son to be robbed of his inheritance.  Fortunately, the presence of the King of France gives you some options.  He is close to Richard  and could be persuaded to support him if Henry refuses to make him heir.

After ten years of imprisonment, you long for freedom and to see your beloved Aquitaine again.  While your release is temporary, to help resolve the succession, you need to persuade Henry to make it permanent.  You do not want to die in prison, in England, rather than your own country.

Relationships with other characters (8)

  • Alais

    Your former husband's daughter by his second wife, and Henry's latest mistress.  You must ensure that she does not become a threat to your position.  Even though you are imprisoned, you are still queen.

    show the relationship of Alais with Eleanor of Aquitaine

  • Constance of Brittany

    Geoffrey's wife.  Henry deposed her father, and she grew up in your court as a ward.  You hear that she has recently become pregnant, providing Geoffrey with a possible heir.

    show the relationship of Constance of Brittany with Eleanor of Aquitaine

  • Geoffrey

    Your third son, he is a plotter after your own heart.  He has allied himself closely with Philip of France and is now his Seneschal.

    show the relationship of Geoffrey with Eleanor of Aquitaine

  • John

    Your youngest son, and your greatest disappointment.  Henry raised him himself after you were imprisoned, and spoiled him, with the expected results.  John lies, cheats, is cruel and lazy, and is neither intelligent not a great knight.  Despite all this, he remains Henry's favourite.

    show the relationship of John with Eleanor of Aquitaine

  • King Henry of England

    Your husband, the love of your life, and your bitterest enemy.  He has imprisoned you for ten long years as revenge for your children's revolt - a revolt which would not have happened if he had trusted his children and given them responsibility. But now, you are useful to him again; he needs you to persuade your sons to accept whatever decision he makes.  Which, in turn, gives you the power to alter it...

    show the relationship of King Henry of England with Eleanor of Aquitaine

  • King Philip of France

    Your former husband's son by this third wife, and Henry's rival for control of France.  He can therefore be used as a tool against Henry.  He is close to both Richard and Geoffrey, and those relationships can be used to your advantage.

    show the relationship of King Philip of France with Eleanor of Aquitaine

  • Margaret

    Your former husband's daughter by his second wife, and Young Henry's widow.  She grew up in your court, and you love her like a daughter. However, you have heard that things did not end well between her and her husband; she was exiled to Paris last year after a scandalous affair with William Marshal, one of Young Henry's knights, and he was apparently seeking an annulment when he died.

    show the relationship of Margaret with Eleanor of Aquitaine

  • Richard

    Your second (and now eldest surviving) son, Richard has always been your favourite. He loves the land of Aquitaine, as you do.  He has become a great knight, and will make a fine king.

    show the relationship of Richard with Eleanor of Aquitaine

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