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The black legend about Eleanor has been maintained over time through writing, painting, opera, theater and cinematography. All the black legends exhibited by his contemporaries were often shared, creating an image of her that spans the 21st century.

A few years after the death of the Duchess of Aquitaine, some men also portrayed her, as is the case with the Benedictine monk, chronicler, illuminated manuscript artist and cartographer Matthew of Paris, also the author of notable historical works.[1] In his work Historia Anglorum, published in 1253, which deals with the history of England, explained the historical facts from the years 1070 to 1253. Specifically, he cites the Duchess in volume 2 of the saga, where he asserted that she was a descendant of the demon. The author will list the reasons for Leonor’s divorce from Louis, concluding that the woman “descended from the devil.” He explained, however, how the devil condemned his new family with Henry, telling us that all the misfortunes and fights that have taken place in it, originate in her. As a result, her children could not live in peace until she was imprisoned.[2]

Matthew of Paris was not the only one to mention it. In the 15th century, a monk from Barbeau Abbey presented her as a corrupt queen in his work on Louis VII. According to him, she was a real meuca, always surrounded by men whom she seduced to take to bed and handle. He also highlighted the fact that he did not leave the holy men alone, who, redeemed by the seductive powers andmanipulators of the queen, were forced into his life of vices, as according to him, happened to Louis. [3]

Painting of a woman talking with a knight.

Louis VII, dismissed her as a true devourer of men, unconscious and corrupt, who did not leave the holy men alone.“


[1]Image takem from the web site

On the other hand, she was also criticized in the field of poetry. One of those who mentioned it was the British poet Alfred Tennyson, who wrote popular poems and operas,[4] and presented in his work Beckett, published in 1884,  the conflict over Henry and Eleanor’s lover. In the story Rosamund was shown with characteristics of purity and ignorance against a very intelligent and convoluted Eleanor. Finally, Elionor’s multiple threatening mentions refer to the belief that the woman was the one who murdered her in a fit of jealousy.[5]

Painting of Eleanor of Aquitaine being evil.
Figure Nº4: to Eleanor, with an evil appearance holding the poison with which it wants to kill Rosamund, Evelyn de MORGAN, Queen Eleanor & Fair Rosamund, Morgan Foundation, 1905.

Otherwise, the legends would also spread through the illustrations, as in the case of Morgan’s Evelyn painting. The author is known for her historical paintings, often about Greek and Roman myths.[6] and yet, by the work Queen Eleanor & Fair Rosamund,published in 1905, where it showed Elionor assassinating with toxins to the lover of Enric. The legend he illustrated explained how Henry tried to keep Rosamund out of danger of being executed by installing her in a house called Labyrinthus, which as its name suggests, was a maze. But supposedly Eleanor found her way using a red thread and poisoned her. The queen will be illustrated with gloomy evil forms: dragons, apes and blood red roses at her feet. In contrast, winged cherubs and pigeons of peace accompany Rosamund. On the other hand, they lie at their feet white roses, which symbolize purity and innocence, thus representing Eleanor with wickedness and the lover with purity and goodness.

In the biographies of his enemies, we find references to the wickedness of Eleanor, such as that written by the English novelist and historical writer George Payne. He wrote several dramatic novels,[7] and it was in his saga The Life and Times of Louis XIV published in 1838 where he judged it.[8] Specifically, he mentioned it in the second volume of these where he explained howthe duchess, because of her great cruelty, is locked in a castle. All this, to want to wish the worst to her husband, creating a revolution with the help of her children against him.[9]

Painting in mural of Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Her evil and malevolent mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, is still locked in the city and castle of Mirebeau. “.

George PAYNE

[2]Image taken from the web

On the other hand, modern French historians reaffirm the myth about his troubadour life, as is the case with the English historical writer and poet. Agnes Strickland, who in her most important work, published in 1840, Lives of the Queens of England, he mentioned it. In volume 6 of these books, he accused him of being irresponsible and immoral in his alleged participation in the Tribunes of Love. The author recited the words that she said Eleanor said. Supposedly, he declared that there can be no true love between married people, that is, it is said that his only thought in marrying lovers was only the expansion of land and capital, and they point to the example of one of his nefarious works as a court in love: his sister Petronilla and Count Raoul de Vermandois.[10]

Legends also hit the stage. For example, in the work of English composer and music writer John Barnnet, author of tragic and historical works.[11] In his less resonant work  Fair Rosamund, published in 1837, he mentioned the various statements in verse about a homicide Eleanor. The opera is about the life of Rosamund Clifford, the lover of King Henry II, who according to legend was poisoned by Queen Leonor. Specifically, it is in act number 4 where the alleged murderous tendencies of the queen are shown. In this excerpt, Rosamund and Henry are depicted singing ballads of nostalgia. After this, the king leaves and then guards and friends arrive to beg Rosamund to leave before the queen can harm her. But finally Eleanor arrives and offers it to the girltwo options: death by dagger or death by poison. The woman begs him for her life, until suddenly the King appears and manages to save her.[12]

His image was also influenced by cinematography in the case of the play by the American playwright James Goldman, a film producer. historical and dramatic.[13] In his three-time Oscar-winning film The Lion in Winter in 1968,[14]where he dealt with the king’s concerns about the rebellion of his children led by the queen, while they met several important figures such as Philip II of France, son of Eleanor’s ex-husband, Louis VII. In this plot the author treats Eleanor as the antagonist, giving us an image of an extremely bad woman with her husbands.

Trailer of the film The Lion In Winter

In conclusion, we can say that Eleanor has been treated over time, through writing, painting, opera, theater and film, as a malevolent and treacherous woman, following the image that they gave their contemporaries to the present day where they described her as a malevolent meuca, and even demonic.

[1]I cite, as an example, two editions of two of his books: Matthew of PARIS, Chronica Majora, Trübner, London, 1877; iFlores Historiarum, Stationery Office, London, 1890.

[2]“Since she’s the devil, and we’re afraid that if you follow her any longer, she’ll kill you. Moreover he has not given him any child: The king foolishly agreed, and carried out this plan; it should have cloistered him, so that his land would not have been marked all his life, and whose disasters would not have taken place ”.Matthew of PARIS, Historia Anglorum; And a shorter account in Chronica Majori, ed. HR, New York, 1902, pp. 186.

[3]“For the French in particular their reptile was now torn to shreds; and time was not repaired, for at the end of the fifteenth century a monk of the abbey of Barbeau, the course of a sympathetic biography of Louis VII, dismissed her as a true devourer of men, unconscious and corrupt, who did not leave the holy men alone. “.Marcel PACAUT, Louis VII and his kingdom, Paris,1964, pp. 59.

[4]I enclose, by way of example, two editions of his works: Alfred TENNYSON, The Works of Alfred Tennyson: The princess and other poems, Strahan, London, 1872. ; otherwise a compilation of his poemsPoems by Alfred Tennyson, Routladge, London, 1864.

[5]Alfred TENNYSON: The Works of Alfred Lord Tennyson: Becket; Tiresias and other poems; Poems omitted from revised editions; Locksley hall sixty years after; The promise of May,Sevpen, London, 1899, p. 89 – 93.

[6]Attached are two links where you can see two of his best known works: The workship of Mammon (10/09/2020) i Helen of Troy (10/09/2020)

[7]I share, as an example, three editions of his most important works: George PAYNE, The Tenants of the Heart, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1842; Memoirs of Celebrated Women, London, R. Bentley, 1837; iMorley Ernstein, General Books, London, 2012.

[8]George PAYNE, The Life and Times of Louis XIV, London, R. Bentley, 1838, pp. 79 – 81.

[9]Her evil and malevolent mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, is still locked in the city and castle of Mirebeau. “.George PAYNE,Philip Augustus; or, The Brothers in Arms, Waverley Novels, London, 1837, pp. 204.

[10]The decisions of. the young Duchess-Queen in her Tribunes of Troubadour Love has met with the disapproval of modern French historians, on account of her immorality; they accuse him of declaring the startling opinion that there can be no true love between married people; and it is true, that the breath which he gave to his sister Petronilla, and to Count Raoul de Vermandois, offered too soon a practical illustration of these evil principles.“. Agnes STRICKLAND,Lives of the Queens of England, Blanchard and Lea, Philadelphia, 1852, pp. 243.

[11]I quote, for the curious about the stories of the author mentioned, two editions of two of his operas: John BARNNET, Farinelli, Musical Times, London, 1839; tooThe Mountain Sylph, Salamanca, London, 1834.

[12]You can find the entire work in English at the following link: (02/09/2020)

[13]For those who are interested in the director’s films, I attach links to his work: in the following link you will find the entire ballet of Anna Karenina: (10/09/2020); and I attach the link that will lead you to the Movie Trailer (10/09/2020)

[14]Attached is the link to the trailer for the movie The Lion In The Winter, (10/09/2020)


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