Book Review: The Two Eleanors of Henry III The Lives of Eleanor of Provence and Eleanor de Montfortby Darren Baker

Genre: Non-fiction/History

Publisher: Pen & Sword

Eleanor of Provence was born in 1223 and came to England at the age of twelve to marry the king, Henry III who was 16 years older than his new queen. He’s sixteen years older, but was a boy when he ascended the throne. Henry hasnt had any intimate relationships and closesnt females he had in his life were his 3 sister’s, the youngest of which was also named Eleanor. His sister Eleanor was only nine when her first marriage took place but she was only 20 and a widow when Eleanor or Provence arrived, she had also taken her vows and joined a convent. That was before she met and fell for Henry’s new star at court, Simon de Monfort.

The story covers the relationship between the two Eleanors, and their relationship with Henry. The whole book is referenced throughout and provides fascinating detail in to the relationship of these two couples and how they went from very close to being on opposite sides of the war field. Both had successes and failures which ultimately led to Simon dying in battle and one of the Eleanors leaving England for voluntary exile.

I haven’t looked into this era much before now but it was a wonderful insight. The lives of these two couples was truly incredible.

A wide variety of evidence including account books belonging to Eleanor de Monfort which survive today have been used to determine the costs of their livelihood, who they entertained and what was served to who. The costs are also converted into equivalent of today’s money to give an idea how much these couples earned and spent and how extravagant they could be.

I would recommend this to anyone who has an interest in the two Eleanors, the reign of Henry III and the beginning of his sons reign.

Rating: 4/5

This copy was provided by NetGalley

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