Eleanor of Aquitaine
b. 1124, d. 1 Apr 1204
Queen of France, married to Louis VII from 1137-1152. (Marriage annulled, though she & Louis had 2 daughters.)
Queen of England, married to Henry II, 1152-1189. She and Henry had 8 children, including Richard (the Lionheart) and John (of Magna Carta fame).
Eleanor makes appearances in all three books of my Battle Scars series and was a joy to write.
Here is a scene from Book II, For King and Country. Enjoy!
(A little background if you haven’t read any of the books: Edric Weston is a supporter of Prince John and nemesis of Henry [de Grey], who is the main character in the novels.)
Edric approached the queen, drew down to his knees, and kissed her outstretched hand.
“Congratulations, Lord Weston.” Eleanor’s eyes twinkled. “This is a fine match. The king, whom I shall see in a few weeks’ time, will be most pleased.”
“Then it’s true?” Henry asked as Edric rose.
“I leave shortly to deliver monies to the Holy Roman Emperor.” Disgust filled her voice, but her countenance changed quickly. She looked sharply at Edric with a subtle wicked smile. “Richard will be home soon to deal with his brother’s supporters.”
Edric didn’t flinch. “God’s will be done.” He tipped his head, said goodnight to his sister, and departed, much to Henry’s relief.
“More the king’s will,” Henry said in a low voice, which elicited another smile from the queen.
The bride and groom left shortly after, headed to Cartholme. As other guests took their leave, Eleanor’s servants retrieved her chests from the wagons. Squires placed the knights’ pallets along the walls of the hall. Eleanor’s chamberlain set about making Henry’s bedchamber suitable for a queen. Pillows and tapestries, silver pots and candlesticks, rose scented candles, more dried rose petals on the floor, and a huge bearskin rug were put in place.
“I have saved you and the lady, Henry,” she said when they’d pulled chairs near the brazier to warm themselves. “Now what shall you do for me?”
“I am at your service, madam.”
“I know the work you and your friends do here.” She tipped her head slyly and added, “And I do not mean your wool trade.”
Somehow that didn’t surprise Henry. “No, madam.”
“Your work is important. I admit I would wish I could have three of my favorite knights on this journey to Germany.”
“Three…? Stephan—he’ll accompany you?” Henry’s heart sped like a boat with the wind in its sails. He’d not seen Stephan since the night of the funeral, almost two months past.
Eleanor sensed his thoughts and grasped his hand. “He has been eyes and ears for me in Flanders. He shall meet me in Cologne after the New Year. If you should have a message…”
Henry nodded. He’d put quill to parchment and carefully craft his words ere the queen left Greyton. “Stephan will be honored to be at your side, as I would. And Robin?”
“Robin’s work, like yours, is here. I must send word to him. You’ll see that he receives it?”
Eleanor studied Henry’s face and sighed. “Are you certain you’ve done right? You liked the young lady, which is more than many in arranged marriages ever hope for. The king may find you someone less suitable. It may be in his interest and in the interest of England that you take a wife.”
Henry tried to make light of Eleanor’s comment. “Pity that poor woman. And here I believed it was only my father I need worry about.”
Eleanor laughed, her voice husky. “There is always a higher authority.” She leaned forward, warming her hands by the fire. “Enough on marriage. Let us talk of war preparations.”
“Are they not one and the same, madam?”
She laughed again. “We shall need more wine. We have much to discuss.”
Effigy of Eleanor of Aquitaine in the church of Fontevraud Abbey by Adam Bishop – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17048657
Charlene Newcomb is the author of the Battle Scars series, 12th century historical fiction filled with war, political intrigue, and a knightly romance of forbidden love set during the reign of Richard the Lionheart. She is currently working on Echoes of the Storm, a sci fi/space opera filled with rebels and traitors and battles and romance in a galaxy far, far away (no, not Star War).