Annulment, Archbishop of Canterbury, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Empress Matilda, Henry II of England, King Robért II of the Franks, Louis VI of France, Louis VII of France, Pope Eugene III, Theobald of Bec, William X of Aquitaine
Eleanor of Aquitaine (c. 1122 – April 1, 1204)
Eleanor was the daughter of Guillaume X, Duke of Aquitaine, and Aénor de Châtellerault. She became duchess upon her father’s death in April 1137, and three months later she married Louis, son of her guardian King Louis VI of the Franks. A few weeks later, Eleanor’s father-in-law died and her husband succeeded him as King Louis VII of the Franks
Eleanor and Louis VII had two daughters, Marie and Alix. Soon afterwards, she sought an annulment of her marriage, but her request was rejected by Pope Eugene III. Eventually, Louis agreed to an annulment, as fifteen years of marriage had not produced a son.
On March 21, the four archbishops, with the approval of Pope Eugene III, granted an annulment on grounds of consanguinity within the fourth degree; Eleanor was Louis’ third cousin once removed, and shared common ancestry with King Robért II of Franks. Their two daughters were, however, declared legitimate. Custody of the daughters was awarded to King Louis VII. Archbishop Samson received assurances from Louis that Eleanor’s lands would be restored to her.
As Eleanor travelled to Poitiers, two lords—Theobald V, Count of Blois, and Geoffrey, Count of Nantes, brother of Henry II, Duke of Normandy—tried to kidnap and marry her to claim her lands. As soon as she arrived in Poitiers, Eleanor sent envoys to Henry II Duke of Normandy and future King of the English, asking him to come at once to marry her.
King Henry II of the English (March 5, 1133 – July 6, 1189)
Duke Henry II of Normandy was born in Maine at Le Mans on March 5, 1133, the eldest child of the Empress Matilda, and her second husband, Geoffrey V, Plantagenet, Count of Anjou.
His mother, Empress Matilda, was born to Henry I, King of the English and Duke of Normandy, and his first wife, Matilda of Scotland, a daughter of King Malcolm III of Scotland and the Anglo-Saxon Princess Margaret of Wessex, the daughter of the English prince Edward the Exile and his wife Agatha, and also the granddaughter of Edmund Ironside, King of the English.
King Henry I of the English was the youngest son of William the Conqueror, who had invaded England in 1066.
On May 18, 1152 (Whit Sunday), eight weeks after her annulment, Eleanor married Henry “without the pomp and ceremony that befitted their rank.”
Eleanor was related to Henry even more closely than she had been to Louis: they were cousins to the third degree through their common ancestor Ermengarde of Anjou, wife of Robért I, Duke of Burgundy and Geoffrey, Count of Gâtinais, and they were also descended from King Robért II of the Franks.
A marriage between Henry and Eleanor’s daughter Marie had earlier been declared impossible due to their status as third cousins once removed. It was rumoured by some that Eleanor had had an affair with Henry’s own father, Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou, who had advised his son to avoid any involvement with her.
On 25 October 1154, Henry became King Henry II of the English. A now heavily pregnant Eleanor, was crowned Queen of the English by Theobald of Bec, the Archbishop of Canterbury, on December 19, 1154. She may not have been anointed on this occasion, however, because she had already been anointed in 1137.
Over the next 13 years, she bore Henry five sons and three daughters: William, Henry, Richard, Geoffrey, John, Matilda, Eleanor, and Joan. Historian John Speed, in his 1611 work History of Great Britain, mentions the possibility that Eleanor had a son named Philip, who died young. His sources no longer exist, and he alone mentions this birth.
Eleanor’s marriage to Henry was reputed to be tumultuous and argumentative, although sufficiently cooperative to produce at least eight pregnancies. Henry was by no means faithful to his wife and had a reputation for philandering; he fathered other, illegitimate, children throughout the marriage.
Eleanor appears to have taken an ambivalent attitude towards these affairs. Geoffrey of York, for example, was an illegitimate son of Henry, but acknowledged by Henry as his child and raised at Westminster in the care of the Queen.