Eleanor of Aquitaine and My Love Affair with Paris

To Be Queen Cover

To Be Queen

Christy English

Christy English

Another guest post by my friend and fellow historical novelist Christy English, whose new book, TO BE QUEEN: A NOVEL OF THE EARLY LIFE OF ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE, was just released.

Heartfelt congratulations to Christy, and best wishes for this new novel of the great Alienor!


I loved Paris before I ever saw it. I dreamt about the Jardin de Luxembourg while I was still in high school, drilling myself in French verbs. I was finally able to go to Paris in spring of 2003. Even on the days when it was cold and raining, I loved every minute of it.

Eleanor of Aquitaine is my favorite medieval queen. Indeed, she is my favorite historical person of all time. I have written two books about her so far and hope to write more. She is one of those fascinating, inscrutable women it can take a lifetime to know. And even then, there is still more to be discovered. Just like Paris itself.

vase Eleanor of Aquitaine wedding gift

vase: Eleanor of Aquitaine's wedding gift

I discovered Eleanor on my first visit to the Louvre. This was years before I knew I would write about her, but my fascination with the medieval period was already strong in my mind. I strolled through the Louvre, taking in all the beauty that I could, almost certain that I was dreaming still. It was then that I saw it: the beautiful rock crystal vase that Eleanor had once given to her husband, Louis VII of France as a wedding gift.

The sight of this vase made Eleanor come alive for me as nothing else had. The thought that King Louis VII, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Abbot Suger had once held this beautiful object thrilled me. The vase had survived all the turmoil of the last nine centuries to be passed down to us in the present.

I returned to my favorite spot in Paris, the Cathedral of Notre Dame, and found a plaque that stated that Louis VII was King of France when the cathedral was begun. Though no doubt this fact is well known to others, it was a thrilling discovery for me. I felt as if my own personal devotion to Paris and my developing interest in Eleanor were coming together.

Paris is still my favorite city on earth, and Notre Dame is still my favorite place in it. I will always think fondly of that moment when, still a young writer, Eleanor came into my life. Paris brought her to me. I am grateful still.


Notre Dame de Paris

Notre-Dame de Paris


Thanks, Christy! For those who want to know more about Eleanor’s adventures, you may find Christy on her  blog, on Twitter and on Facebook.

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5 Comments to “Eleanor of Aquitaine and My Love Affair with Paris”

  1. Elena, how amazing that you named your daughter for Eleanor! I love that…thank you so much for sharing that with us, and for sharing my joy in the beauty of Paris.

    Elissa, I love Marie Antoinette, too. Congratulations on your move to Paris! I know you will love every minute…

    Catherine, thank you so much for hosting me. It is such a thrill to be included on your beautiful site.

  2. Elissa Shaw says:

    Yes, we are moving June 11th! For how long…who knows? That’s when my French historian life will take full flight! Finally I will be able to live in the city that gave me my passion. Surely I’ll be able to empower my inner historical fiction writer!
    Also, I can finally read some of your wonderful books!

  3. Elena, I knew your little girl’s name but had no idea she was named after Eleanor. Sadly I never had a daughter but consoled myself by giving my heroine Gabrielle the middle name of Alienor…

    Thanks, Elissa! So you are moving to Paris in a matter of weeks! It is also my favorite city in the world. :)

  4. Elissa Shaw says:

    Wow, she sounds just like me. Dreaming of Paris before I had ever been there–did that and still do even though I’ve been twice. However, unlike Christy I already had a favorite French Queen–Marie Antoinette. Eleanor has since been added to my radar. Maybe someday when life slows down I can write about her. Moving to Paris is my first step; a step I will take in just a few short weeks.
    Great Post!!!

  5. I remember seeing that same vase at the Louvre and being enchanted. I have always loved Eleanor and named my daughter after her. Thank you, Christy and Catherine!

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