Costume Candidate for 2013: Eleanor of Aquitaine

Thanks to our Kickstarter campaign for 2013, we’re adding 19 new costumes this season, 7 of which our backers and supporters will get to vote on. This series of posts is designed to briefly introduce the many notable women and legendary figures we’ll be considering. Voting will take place spring/summer of 2013.

Eleanor of Aquitaine

(Voting update: Eleanor didn’t make the cut for this season, but if you’re looking for an Eleanor of Aquitaine costume, check out our Marie de France page for resources. It’s exactly the same time period—in fact the two women may have been sisters-in-law.)

Eleanor of Aquitaine was probably the most powerful woman in medieval Western Europe. It’s certainly hard to think of anyone else who might fill the bill. In her own right she was Duchess of Aquitaine and Countess of Poitiers, ruling over a large part of what is now France. Her marriage to Louis VII made her Queen of France, in which capacity she rode at the head of the Second Crusade. After divorcing Louis she married Henry Plantagenet—soon to ascend the throne as Henry II of England—and thereby became Queen of England and co-regent of the vast empire created from their combined territories. In her spare time she sponsored the greatest literary revival of the High Middle Ages; she also masterminded a military rebellion against Henry that landed her in prison for 16 years. After Henry’s death it was Eleanor more than anyone who held things together: she was the de facto ruler of England for her son King Richard the Lionheart (who was off on Crusade) and did everything she could to keep her son King John from making a total mess (which he did after she died). In the words of the nuns of Fontevrault, where Eleanor was buried, she “surpassed almost all the queens of the world.”

Think we should add an Eleanor of Aquitaine costume to Take Back Halloween? If you missed our Kickstarter campaign you can still become a supporter and get to vote on the new costumes.


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