A reparative reading of stories about medieval queen Eleanor of Aquitaine.
Much of what we know about Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of France and then Queen of England, we know from recorded rumor-gossip often qualified by the curious phrase “it was said,” or the love songs, ballads, and romances that gossip inspired. While we can mine these stories for evidence about the historical Eleanor, Karen Sullivan invites us to consider, instead, what even the most fantastical of these tales reveals about this queen and life as a twelfth-century noblewoman. She reads the Middle Ages, not to impose our current conceptual categories on its culture, but to expose the conceptual categories medieval women used to make sense of their lives. Along the way, Sullivan paints a fresh portrait of this singular medieval queen and the women who shared her world.