Eleanor of Aquitaine and My Love Affair with Paris
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.
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.