Eleanor of Aquitaine Without a doubt, the most glamorous queen of the Middle Ages was Eleanor of Aquitaine, who was, in succession, queen of both France and England.  She was married to Louis of France for 15 years, during which she produced two daughters and accompanied Louis on the Second Crusade, which was a bust, but during which she nevertheless founded a few hospitals on their travels.  Eventually her marriage to Louis was annulled, and she promptly married 19-year-old Henry Plantagenet, who soon after became Henry II of England.  Their combined holdings included England and more than half of France, allowing her to thumb her nose at her “was-band,” Louis, as did her giving birth to eight little Plantagenets with Henry.  Their marriage was not especially pleasant, for as Henry got older, he got fatter and he started taking mistresses.  In 1170 both Eleanor in England and her daughter Marie in France turned their courts into “courts of love,” which contributed immeasurably to the consciousness of the times by requiring that a knight must choose a lady with whom he might have a glorified love relationship.  It could be any lady, so long as it was not his wife.  Its code was elaborate: according to the formula, the romantic knight must be cheerful, ardent, secretive, and above all courteous.  No matter how long the lady withheld her favors, he must continue his courtship undismayed and do without question whatever she might bid.  This cult was spread by traveling troubadours in the 12th century, probably improved the manners of the courtly lovers, and certainly made the lives of the ladies who were put on pedestals more entertaining. Irritated with Henry, Eleanor and two of her sons led her Aquitaine army against him; she lost and was incarcerated in prison for 15 years.  When Henry died, she got out, and son Richard, known as the Lion-Hearted, left her in charge when he went to the Third Crusade, where he managed to lose 95,000 out of 100,000 of his troops and get captured himself.  Everybody was pretty fed up with him, and nobody wanted to pay his ransom, so mom did it herself.  And when son John, who took the throne while Richard was gone, got into trouble and became the object of a rebellion, mom, now in her 80s, put her armor on again and went to battle with her own army to crush the rebellion.  She definitely gets my vote for Class Act of the Middle Ages. Her “courtly love” concept had an influence on the Arthurian legends that were written from that point forward. Made with Xara Website by Susan Smily