My Fair Lady: A Story of Eleanor of Provence, Henry III’s Lost Queen by J.P. Reedman
Eleanor of Provence, Queen to Henry III , is a little unknown in history.
She is often only remembered through her husband and sons… because she was mother to Edward I (Edward Longshanks), who other than being a giant for this period of time (over 6ft!), he was an excellent solider who had a thing for battles with rebels in Scotland… Braveheart anyone? And her husband, Henry III of England, who was the son of King John and assumed the throne when he was only nine!
Although there was a big age gap between Henry and Eleanor, it is apparent that she really did love her husband. She always tended to him when he was sick and they were known to discuss running the country together – which is unheard of involving a woman! Shock horror. Although, I’m not sure she makes that many great decisions.
Unfortunately, her faults lay when it came to money and she was known to spend large amounts on herself and her foreign family, which was not popular at all. So, even though she was obviously devoted to her husband she was very much hated by the Londoners. With one event meaning she was pelted with stones, mud and rotten vegetables whilst sailing on a barge on the river Thames.
This book also follows Simon de Montfort, from Eleanor’s perspective. She really didn’t like him!! With good reason in some ways, as Simon led the rebellion against Henry during the Second Barons’ War and ruled England in his place! He not only stripped the King of unlimited authority he started to form the beginnings of a parliament that would make decisions in his place. However, in a plot twist, SPOILER ALERT… a year later Simon was killed by forces loyal to the King in the Battle of Evesham and she did reclaim the throne.
Overall, this book was a good description of Eleanor’s life, it’s not my favourite but it was interesting to read. The sad thing about Eleanor is nobody knows where she is buried. She is one of the only Queens without a proper burial and that’s why I feel sad for her!! Let’s hope she’s a little bit more appreciated through books like these.