Eleanor of Aquitaine: An Annotated Bibliography
Compiled by Stephanie Tarbin*
Australian National University, Canberra
This bibliography offers an introduction to some of the more recent
studies of Eleanor of Aquitaine. It is by no means exhaustive and there
is an extensive corpus of work available in French which may be accessed
through the notes and bibliographies of many of the articles listed below.
I have chosen not to include a listing of printed primary works since
this bibliography is not intended to be comprehensive and because of the
fragmentary nature of the evidence. Contemporary references to Eleanor
tend to be dispersed among a range of sources, including chronicles and
administrative records. Fortunately, an impressive range of twelfth-century
material is available in print and evidence for Eleanor's life may be gleaned
from the more accessible editions. The bibliographies and notes of authors
such as Kelly, Brown, Labande, Martindale and Richardson would be useful
places to begin a search.
- Kelly, Amy, Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Four Kings, Cambridge,
Mass., Harvard University Press, 1959.
A seamless and imaginative narrative of Eleanor's life and cultural
context woven together from fragmentary and scattered twelfth-century sources.
Subsequent research and debate has discredited elements of Kelly's interpretation,
such as her vision of the 'courts of love' or Eleanor's supposed dalliance
with the troubadour Bernard de Ventadour. Justifiable criticisms aside,
Kelly's work remains one of the most readable and even lyrical biographies
of Eleanor of Aquitaine.
- Meade, Marion, Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Biography, New York,
A standard biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine that is both accessable
and informed but which unaccountably fails to captivate the imagination.
- Owen, D.D.R., Eleanor of Aquitaine: Queen and Legend, Oxford,
Images of Eleanor of Aquitaine are refracted through the lenses of
'history, legend and literature' in Owen's novel approach to his subject.
Perfectly willing to speculate about Eleanor's personality on the merest
shreds of evidence, Owen is nonetheless scrupulously honest about his methods
and careful with his sources. This account is most convincing when tracing
the development of Eleanor as a figure of legend.
- Pernoud, Regine, Eleanor of Aquitaine, (1965), Peter Wiles
(trans), London, Collins, 1967.
An English translation of the popular French biography, Pernoud's account
combines a creatively embroidered narrative of Eleanor's life with comments
on interpretive issues debated by historians. Although Pernoud drew on
highly regarded scholarly works and a range of documentary as well as literary
sources, her decision to omit references to her sources suggest that the
text should be used with some caution. Nonetheless, this is an eminently
readable introduction to studies of Eleanor of Aquitaine. MKU
- Eleanor of Aquitaine, The Mother Queen, Newton Abbot, David and
In spite of the author's professed sympathy for his subject, the acceptance
of hackneyed and questionable stereotypes to explain character and motive
produce an ahistorical and lacklustre biography.
- Cahiers de Civilisation Medievale XXIX (1986)
An issue devoted to studies of the Plantagenets. Six of the articles
discuss issues relating to Eleanor of Aquitaine or aspects of medieval
culture during her lifetime.
- Kibler, W.W. (ed.), Eleanor of Aquitaine: Patron and Politician,
Austin, Texas, University of Texas Press, 1976.
A collection of essays from a symposium held in 1973, some rather loosely
connected to Eleanor and with an emphasis on her role as patron.
- LIFE AND SOURCES
- Brown, Elizabeth A.R., 'Eleanor of Aquitaine, Parent, Queen and
Duchess' in W.W. Kibler (ed.), Eleanor of Aquitaine: Patron and Politician,
Austin, Texas, University of Texas Press, 1976, pp. 9-34.
A considered outline of the major events of Eleanor's life which provides
a useful corrective to some of the more imaginative biographical treatments
- Cheney, Christopher, 'A Monastic Letter of Fraternity to Eleanor
of Aquitaine', English Historical Review 51 (1936): pp. 488-93.
A brief discussion of a little-known document connecting Eleanor with
Reading Abbey, perhaps most interesting as an oblique comment on Eleanor's
reputation after her death. [Re-printed in C.R. Cheney, The English Church
and Its Laws, 12th-14th Centuries, London, Variorum Imprint, 1982, Ch.
- Labande, Edmond-Rene, 'Pour une image veridique d'Alienor d'Aquitaine',
Bulletin de la Societe des Antiquaires de l'Ouest 2 (1952): 174-234.
A highly regarded and widely cited discussion of sources.
- Martindale, Jane, 'Eleanor of Aquitaine' in Janet L. Nelson (ed.),
Richard Coeur de Lion in History and Myth, London, Kings College London
Centre for Late Antique and Medieval Studies, 1992.
This is an invaluable essay firmly grounded in a discriminating evaluation
of modern studies and documentary sources. Martindale offers a clear account
of Eleanor's political significance and the implications for a new understanding
of her personality and actions.
- Richardson, H.G., 'The Charters and Letters of Eleanor of Aquitaine',
English Historical Review LXXIV (1959): 193-213.
An early critic of Kelly's reliance on narrative sources, Richardson
advocated the exploration of administrative documents for a fuller understanding
of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Although the article's main concern was to determine
whether office of chancellor was a formalised position in the queen's household,
this study sheds much light on Eleanor's official activities and itinerary
- THE COURTS OF LOVE CONTROVERSY
The late-twelfth century treatise De Amore et amoris remedio, by Andreas
Capellanus, has been readily viewed as a description of existing 'courts
of love'. Although this reading did not originate with Amy Kelly, it was
most imaginatively developed by her and has been the target of roundest
- Benton, J.F., 'The Court of Champagne as Literary Centre', Speculum
36 (1961): 551-91.
Benton undertook a detailed survey of authors associated with the court
of Count Henry and Marie of Champagne. Benton questioned assumptions about
the identity of Andreas Capellanus, his association with Marie of Champagne
and the literal interpretation of the 'courts of love' in his work.
- Bourgain, Pascale, 'Alienor d'Aquitaine et Marie de Champagne mises
en cause par Andre le Chapelain', XXIX (1986): 30-6.
Locates Andreas Capellanus in the Capetian court and suggests that
the judgements on fins amour, attributed to Marie of Champagne and Eleanor
of Aquitaine, were a device to deflect potential criticism of a 'new' literary
mode from the author.
- Dronke, Peter, 'Andreas Capellanus', Journal of Medieval Latin
4 (1994): 51-63
Another recent look at De Amore which questions its relationship with
courtly love poetry.
- Kelly, Amy, 'Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Courts of Love', Speculum
XII (1937): 3-19.
Her first exposition on the existence of a female literary academy
at Poitiers, derived from an uncritical reading of De Amore, which recurs
in her subsequent monograph.
- McCash, Julie Hall Martin, 'Marie de Champagne and Eleanor of Aquitaine:
A relationship re-examined', Speculum 54:4 (1979): 698-711.
While recognising Benton's view that evidence for contact between Eleanor
and her daughter is lacking, McCash re-opens the question and argues for
the likelihood of some form of literary exchange within the cultural spheres
of the two women
- FAMILY POLITICS AND RELATIONSHIPS
- Bachrach, B., 'Henry II and the Angevin Tradition of Family Hostility',
Albion 16:2 (1984): 111-30.
Bachrach dispels the myth of recurrent dynastic conflict in earlier
generations of Angevins and postulates that the bitter relations between
Henry and his sons should be understood in the context of their Norman
- Brooke, Christopher, 'The Marriage of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine',
The Historian 20 (1988):3-8.
A feature article which provides a useful introduction to issues of
inheritance and marriage in twelfth-century Europe and an overview of the
marriages and children of Eleanor of Aquitaine.
- Labande, Edmond-Rene, 'Les filles d'Alienor d'Aquitaine: etude comparative',
Cahiers de Civilisation Medievale XXIX (1986): 101-112.
A discussion of the marital careers of Eleanor's daughters from her
first and second marriages.
- Turner, Ralph V., 'Eleanor of Aquitaine and her children: an inquiry
into medieval family attachment', Journal of Medieval History 14
A provocative consideration of Eleanor's maternal responsibilities
toward her children. Perhaps fruitfully read in conjunction with Bachrach's
article for some insight into her husband's fulfilment of his familial
- CULTURAL PATRONAGE
- Bienvenu, Jean-Marc, 'Alienor D'Aquitaine et Fontevraud, Cahiers
de Civilisation Medievale XXIX (1986): 15-27.
Explores Eleanor's relationship with the abbey through evidence of
gifts and patronage to her retirement, death and burial.
- Greenhill, Eleanor S., 'Eleanor, Abbot Suger and Saint-Denis', in
W.W. Kibler (ed.),Eleanor of Aquitaine: Patron and Politician, Austin,
Texas, University of Texas Press, 1976, pp. 81-114.
A daring re-interpretation of the re-building of Saint-Denis cathedral
which assigns a major role to Eleanor's patronage and influence, despite
lack of evidence.
- Jeffreys, Elizabeth M., 'The Comnenian Background to the Romans
d'antiquite', Byzantion 50:2 (1980): 455-86.
An argument for Eleanor's importance as a patron of vernacular romance
which is based largely on the hypothetical influence of narrative literature
at the court of Constantinople, visited by Eleanor during the Second Crusade.
- Kibler, W.W., (ed.), Eleanor of Aquitaine: Patron and Politician,
Austin, Texas, University of Texas Press, 1976.
See the articles by Larry M. Ayres, (pp. 115-146), and Rebecca A. Baltzer,
(61-80), for discussions of painting and music during Eleanor's lifetime.
- Lazar, Moshe, 'Cupid, the Lady and the Poet', in W.W. Kibler (ed.),
Eleanor of Aquitaine: Patron and Politician, Austin, Texas, University
of Texas Press, 1976, pp. 35-59.
The roles of Eleanor and Marie in fostering literary expression is
assumed rather than explored in this article, which is concerned to elucidate
the various registers of 'courtly love' in the twelfth century.
- Lejeune, Rita, 'Role litteraire de la famille d'Alienor d'Aquitaine',
Cahiers de Civilisation Medievale1:3 (1958): 319-37.
Surveys the literary patronage of Eleanor's children and considers
the influence of Eleanor on contemporary writings. See also her 'Role litteraire
d'Alienor d'Aquitaine et de sa famille, Cultura Neo-Latina 14 (1954):
- Lozinski, Jean Louise, 'Henri II, Alienor d'Aquitaine et la cathedrale
de Poitiers', Cahiers de Civilisation Medievale,37 (1994): 91-100.
- LEGENDS ABOUT ELEANOR
- The most recent and comprehensive study of legends about Eleanor and
their development is to be found in D.D.R. Owen but the following represent
some earlier forays into the topic.
- Carney, Elizabeth, 'Fact and Fiction in "Queen Eleanor's Confession"',
Folklore 95: (1984): 167-70.
Argues that the depiction of Eleanor's adultery with William Marshal
in this Elizabethan ballad represents an older tradition dating from the
- Chambers, Frank McMinn, 'Some legends concerning Eleanor of Aquitaine',
Speculum16 (1941): 459-68.
Tackles the range of myths associated with Eleanor and discusses their
possible origins and development.
- Chapman, Robert L., 'Notes on the Demon Queen Eleanor', Modern
Language Notes, (June 1995): 393-6.
A brief discussion of the romance of Richard Coeur de Lion which substitutes
the wicked Cassiodorien for Eleanor.
Queenship and Power: some suggested readings
- Erler, Mary and Kowaleski, Maryanne, (eds),Women and Power in
the Middle Ages, Athens, Georgia, University of Georgia Press, 1988.
An invaluable anthology of papers which consider the question of women's
power in a range of contexts. See especially the groundbreaking article
by Jo Ann McNamara and Suzanne Wemple, 'The Power of Women Through the
Family in Medieval Europe, 500-1100', pp. 83-101, for their highly influential
- Parsons, John C., (ed.), Medieval Queenship, New York, St
Martin's Press, 1993.
Another excellent and wide-ranging collection. For analysis of representations
of powerful women, see the articles by Pauline Stafford and Lois Huneycutt.
Also recommended is the article by John Parsons, 'Mothers, Daughters, Marriage,
Power : Some Plantagenet Evidence, 1150-1500'.
- Derek Baker (ed.), Medieval Women: Dedicated and Presented to
Professor Rosalind M.T. Hill on the occasion of her seventieth birthday,
Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1978.
An early anthology featuring several studies of medieval queens. See
the articles by Janet L. Nelson, Pauline Stafford and Bernard Hamilton
Useful Reference Works
- Echols, Anne and Williams, Marty (eds), Women in the Middle Ages:
Index and Bibliography, Oxford, Berg Publishers, 1992.
short biographical entries for a multitude of medieval women with extensive
cross-referencing by subject and useful suggestions for further reading.
- Sweeney, Patricia E., Biographies of British Women: An annotated
Bibliography London, Cassell Academic, 1993
succinct assessments of the biographies of over 700 women featuring
in Britain's history.
This bibliography owes a great deal to the researches
of students in the 'What were the Middle Ages?' course at Australian National University. In particular
I would like to acknowledge the efforts of Ida Birrell, Jean Drummond,
Sarah Hemmingson, Jeldai King, Lois Kruk, Sylvia Marchant, Meg Osmond and
Copyright © 1997, Stephanie Tarbin, Stephanie.Tarbin@anu.edu.au.
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