Sunday, June 12, 2011

Eleanor of Aquitaine Guest Blog by Cecelia Holland (and GIVEAWAY!)

When I was writing THE KING'S WITCH, a novel about Richard the Lionhearted's Crusade, one of the most riveting features for me was a character who wasn't even there.

Richard's mother Eleanor of Aquitaine (heroine of the first novel in this group, THE SECRET ELEANOR) would have been an extraordinary woman in any age but in the 12th century, when women were suppressed, sequestered, and regarded as property, she was incredible. From the age of 15, when she married the son of the dying King of France, she was determined to wield power; throughout her disastrous marriage with Louis VII she took an active part in his regime, forcing him into adventures he had no gift for, accompanying him on Crusade, where she almost ditched him over matters of strategy.

Her independence and ambition horrified the men around her; Bernard of Clairvaux, for one, practically emitted steam through his ears when he mentioned her. Finessed out of power, she gave up on Louis. As Duchess of Aquitaine in her own right, she ruled a territory larger than France, and she chose to marry the one man in Europe who could bring her even more: Henry of Anjou, about to become King of England. Between the two of them they made the greatest realm in Christendom, and the most fascinating family in the Middle Ages, the Plantagenets.

Eleanor fascinates me; it's hard to image how in her day and age she found the strength to be who she was. Standing up to Louis and his crowd was one thing, but Henry II was a formidable adversary and she seems to have ground him into the dirt, with the help of her boys. At the same time, she kept on top of her own fractious and troublesome country. The North did not dare assault the Langue d'Oc until well after she was dead. She was brave and broad-minded, and the men could never again stuff women entirely back into that little box of prayers and babies.

So writing a novel about her son, in which the main character is a woman of her time, I found Eleanor invading at every turn. She never appears in the flesh in the novel but she writes letters, she pops up in memories, she influences events by sheer force of character. A woman for all seasons.

Thank-you for this wonderful guest blog Cecelia Holland! Eleanor of Aquitaine is one of my favorite historical figures to read about and I loved reading your prospective on her. I will have my review of The King's Witch posted next week.

Giveaway Details
Alexandra of Penguin Books has been kind enough to offer two copies of The King's Witch by Cecelia Holland for a giveaway.

If you would like to win a copy of The King's Witch please leave a comment about what intrigues you about the novel or about this great guest blog.

As part of your comment, you must include an email address. If I can't find a way to contact you I will draw another winner.

For an additional entry, blog about this giveaway or post it on your sidebar. Provide a link to this post in your comment.

I will be using (or a monte carlo simulation in excel) to pick the winners from the comments.

This contest is only open to US residents (Sorry!).

No P.O. Boxes.

The deadline for entry is midnight, Friday July 1st.

Good luck!


  1. i'm always fascinated about any stories about StrongWomen!!!

    i'm all about GirlPower (excuse the tween-terminology!!) & always cringe when i hear about girls, young ladies, women, who feel that men define their lives.........

    thank you for the giveaway!!!


  2. I love that she never let either husband define her, and when confronted with problems, she made a way around them. What a woman!
    I posted in my side bar.

  3. I have always enjoyed historical fiction. It's a great way to become educated while being entertained. This books sounds fantastic and I would like to be entered in the giveaway. Thanks.


  4. Eleanor of Aquitaine is such a fascinating person. With her strong will and power, she must have been a fearsome woman to know.

    akaleistar (at) gmail (dot) com

  5. This does sound fascinating--I love the idea of a character who isn't really there. Thanks for hosting this. Please enter me in this terrific book giveaway, which I will add to my sidebar. I am a follower.


  6. Since I just won a giveaway from you, I probably shouldn't enter this one! ;) This sounds really good though. I'm adding it to my reading list.
    2 Kids and Tired Books

  7. I would love to read (or not read) about Eleanor. =)
    tiredwkids at live dot com

  8. What intrigues me the most is that at such a young age Eleanor had a gift of insight and maturity. I need to find out if she is stubborn or determined. She sounds like a force to behold and I'd love to read about her.

    clenna at aol dot com

  9. I would love to win this! She sounds like a very interesting person and I'd like to learn more about her.
    mittens0831 at aol dot com

  10. Eleanor sounds like my kind of woman! This sounds like a really great story. Thank you for hosting this giveaway. Please enter me.

    countrysunset40 (at) aol dot com

  11. Eleanor of Aquitaine is one of my favorite historical figures so to read a novel about her favorite son, on who she had much influence, will be very interesting. Eleanor was a formidable presence, ever present even when she wasn't there in physical form. Great guest post!

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  12. I can see how a strong woman like Eleanor would keep popping up! I would love to read this book, I love the witch aspect! Thank you!

    inthehammockblog at gmail dot com

  13. I love to read about Eleanor of Aquitane. She is such a strong forceful woman.

    Thank you for this giveaway

  14. It is always inspiring to read about strong women who lived in a time when women had no rights.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

  15. I've never read anything about Eleanor of Aquitane & this looks like a good book to start with.
    Thanks for the giveaway!
    megalon22 at yahoo dot com

  16. This giveaway has now ended and winners will be posted shortly.

  17. Hello There,
    I just wanted to see if you were currently interested in additional guest bloggers for your blog site.
    I see that you've accepted some guest posters in the past - are there any specific guidelines you need me to follow while making submissions?
    If you're open to submissions, whom would I need to send them to?
    I'm eager to send some contributions to your blog and think that I can cover some interesting topics.
    Thanks for your time,