15 August 2021

Book Review: Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine: Founding an Empire, by Matthew Lewis


Available for pre-order from 

Although I've always been fascinated by the Plantagenets, my knowledge of Eleanor of Aquitaine owes more to TV dramas than historical research. This new book from Matthew Lewis offers a picture of a surprisingly modern, resourceful and resilient woman, doing her best to deal with a troubled King Henry.

Heiress to the greatest Duchy in France, and nine years older than Henry, Eleanor had excellent preparation for her task. As Queen of France she'd survived her first marriage, to the hapless King Louis, scandal and the dangers of his ill-advised crusade to the Holy Lands.

Henry II might have raised an eyebrow when he read Eleanor's letter proposing marriage (if he was interested) but she 'ticked all the boxes', as she had two daughters, her own fortune and Aquitaine lands. The fact they were related to the same degree of consanguinity which enabled her divorce from the King of France didn't seem to bother either of them.

Matthew Lewis brings the story of Henry and Eleanor to life with a wealth of intriguing stories, fascinating details, and well-researched context. Highly recommended.


Tomb effigies of Eleanor and Henry II at Fontevrault Abbey 
(Wikimedia Commons)

Tony Riches

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About the Author

Matthew Lewis is an author and historian with particular interest in the medieval period. His books include a history of the Wars of the Roses, a biography of Richard, 3rd Duke of York, and two novels of historical fiction telling the life of King Richard III and the aftermath of the Battle of Bosworth. He also writes a history blog, sharing thoughts and snippets. Find out more at Matthew's website 
mattlewisauthor.com and find him on Twitter @MattLewisAuthor

Full Disclosure - A review copy of this book was kindly provided by the publishers, Amberley.

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