Guest Post by Anne O'Brien + 2 Copy Giveaway of Queen Defiant: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine

In honor of the release of Queen Defiant: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine, I am pleased to bring you a guest post by author Anne O'Brien!  Queen Defiant will be out in bookstores tomorrow, so please help me wish Anne a fabulous publication day!

In addition to the lovely article on Eleanor of Aquitaine and her female ancestors, Anne has also graciously offered up 2 copies of Queen Defiant to my lucky readers (and the giveaway is international!), so be sure to sign up at the end of this post.

Take it away Anne....
  Know Your Ancestress ...

The power of women ... (even in the twelfth century)


Is this Eleanor of Aquitaine? I like to think so. I like this depiction of her, and can imagine Eleanor with her crown and lively face and her vibrant uncovered hair. She is not shy. Her raised hand suggests that she is not slow to draw attention to herself. Her gown and mantle are richly coloured. This is the very confident, spirited Eleanor who went crusading against the wishes of her husband Louis VII and demanded an annulment of their marriage.

Eleanor of Aquitaine was heiress to one of the richest domains in medieval Europe. As I was to discover when researching QUEEN DEFIANT, the men in Eleanor’s family were an interesting bunch, both famous and notorious. They gave strong government, went on Crusade, they waged war on their neighbours and made Aquitaine into the most sophisticated and civilized court in all of western Europe. But more importantly, they married strong minded women. This was Eleanor’s true inheritance. How Eleanor must have enjoyed the tales of her female ancestors ...

There was Azalais, back in the shadowy past long before Eleanor, when life was even more chancy than my heroine discovered it to be. A widowed Countess from the Toulouse branch of the family, she saved her country from invasion by landless riff-raff backed by troops of brigands, by selling herself and her land in marriage to the King of the Franks. We do not know if she enjoyed the experience, but she obviously thought it worth her while. A lady of initiative. Perhaps Eleanor saw in Azalais a lesson for her own marrying to safeguard her beloved Aquitaine.

Emma was wife to William the IV of Aquitaine in the tenth century, and was definitely made of sterner stuff than most women. She must have earned all Eleanor’s admiration. Driven to outrage, Emma embarked on a relentless campaign against her hunting, carousing, drunkenly lecherous husband, and she left him. But not before poisoning his paramours, undermining his good relations with the Church, and finally driving him to take refuge from her and the threat of eternal damnation for his sins in a monastery. Which left Emma to rule Aquitaine alone in the name of her young son, another William. Clearly a lady of remarkable self-confidence and determination. As was Eleanor.

Philippa of Toulouse was Eleanor’s paternal grandmother. Spirited, high minded and unbending, she lived by the principles of duty and obedience to God - until she discovered that her husband William the IX – the Troubadour - had abducted and was living openly with his lover under Philippa’s very nose, in Philippa’s own favourite palace in Poitiers. Philippa complained bitterly to the Pope, but to no avail, and Philippa retired to spend her final days with the nuns at the Abbey of Fontevrault. I do not think Eleanor would have done this. She would not have left the field, but would have waged war against her neglectful husband who dared humiliate her. Eleanor was more likely to make use of Emma’s lethal methods against the upstart whore who usurped her bed.

Yet I imagine Philippa had her moments of satisfaction. Bitter but powerless to seek revenge, she became a close friend to Duke William’s first abandoned wife Ermengarde, also living out her days in disgruntled seclusion in Fontevrault. I imagine they had some salacious tales to swap over a cup of wine, as women will, over Duke William’s morals, his poor judgement when dealing with the female sex, and not least his physical prowess. Sadly for her, Eleanor never knew her.

And Duke William’s infamous whore? This was Dangerosa - a name to conjure with! – who became Eleanor’s maternal grandmother and the most notorious woman in Aquitaine. Originally she was wife to the Viscount of Chatellerault, but presumably saw Duke William IX in full glory of mail and weaponry, and fell in love. So did William, and took measures to satisfy his lust. He abducted Dangerosa from her marital bedchamber - with no obvious protest on Dangerosa’s part - and carried her off to his palace at Poitiers where he established her in the newly constructed Maubergeonne Tower. They were besotted with each other, making no secret of their sinful union. Dangerosa raised her chin at the world’s condemnation of her abandoning husband and children, while Duke William had the lady’s portrait painted on the face of his shield. It was, he boasted, his desire to bear her likeness into battle, as she had borne the weight of his body so willingly and frequently in bed. Eleanor’s grandfather had a strong streak of coarse humour. As for Dangerosa, she never regretted her choice: she remained his mistress until his death. The date of her own death is uncertain but Eleanor would have known her. I wonder what they talked about.

Eleanor’s own mother Aenor did not fit the mould, by all accounts a timid, mouse-like creature who did as she was told without complaint. But there were extenuating circumstances, and I found it easy to have sympathy with her, because Aenor was Dangerosa’s daughter. If Dangerosa could not get Duke William legally into her bed, then her daughter Aenor would get William’s son by Philippa. Eleanor’s family tree is nothing if not complicated. Thus Aenor was wed to William the X, who would become Eleanor’s father; Dangerosa keeping it in the family, if you will. Poor Aenor! Abandoned by a mother who ran off with her lover, bedded by a husband who viewed his father’s mistress’s daughter with less than enthusiasm, Aenor even gave up on life before her time. She died when Eleanor was eight years old: my heroine’s memory of her would have been very incomplete.

And finally here is Eleanor herself, painted in later life in a fresco in the Chapel of St. Radegonde at Chinon where Henry Plantagenet imprisoned her for long months at a time.


Supremely regal, her hair free-flowing and wearing an impressive crown as she rides beside her daughter Joanna, Eleanor is being led away by Henry to imprisonment. I find this a very poignant and moving scene of Eleanor in her mature years. Her face is solemn and strained but she is still very much in control, still the feisty, shocking, intemperate, strong-willed and vital girl who first wed Louis VII. How could she not be, with such an amazing collection of females in her blood?

Painting a picture of Eleanor’s astonishing life and adventures in QUEEN DEFIANT has been for me the greatest of pleasures.

Find out more about me and Eleanor on my website @ www.anneobrienbooks.com

Visit me on Facebook to keep in touch with what Eleanor is doing @ www.facebook.com/pages/Offical-Fan-Page-of-Anne-OBrien-Books

You can also follow me, and Eleanor, on Twitter.

ABOUT THE BOOK
 
SYNOPSIS

A riveting novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine's early adult years from the author of The Virgin Widow.

Orphaned at a young age, Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine, seeks a strong husband to keep her hold on the vast lands that have made her the most powerful heiress in Europe. But her arranged marriage to Louis VII, King of France, is made disastrous by Louis's weakness of will and fanatical devotion to the Church. Eleanor defies her husband by risking her life on an adventurous Crusade, and even challenges the Pope himself. And in young, brilliant, mercurial Henry d'Anjou, she finds her soul mate-the one man who is audacious enough to claim her for his own and make her Queen of England.

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION

- To enter, please leave a comment below and include your email address (only comments with email addresses will be entered in the giveaway).
- Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY!
- For +1 additional entry each, please help spread the word by blogging, posting on sidebar, tweeting or posting on Facebook.  You can use the SHARE buttons below.
- Giveaway ends on June 16th.

Thanks to Anne O'Brien for the intriguing guest post and for providing the giveaway copies.  

Good luck to all!


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69 comments:

  1. Eleanor of Aquitaine is one of my favorite women in history--I can't wait to read this, even if I don't win a copy.

    thorntonstephanie at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  2. I would love to win this giveaway and read Eleanor's story! Thank you for the opportunity!

    Robin D
    robindpdx (at) yahoo (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
  3. It is quite refreshing to see an authors research into a historical figures ancestors. This is not something that one is usually aware of and I think it can only add to the pleasure in reading the novel that is partly inspired by it.

    Thank you.

    Carol T

    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

    I Follow via GFC

    ReplyDelete
  4. Please count me in for this giveaway. Thanks for sharing.

    mystica123athotmaildotcom

    ReplyDelete
  5. This book sounds like a lovely read!
    janine@landailyn.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. ooh - I'd love to read this!! I remember visiting a castle once that Eleanor of Aquitane had lived in and her private rooms were the most beautiful shade of blue. Thanks for hosting!!
    -Beth
    Beth's Book-Nook Blog
    drbethnolan@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  7. This book seems interesting :)

    Info about your Giveaway is already on my blog's sidebar: http://hopo-hopo.blogspot.com/

    Have a nice day!
    Ola
    olluszka@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for the chance!

    spamscape [at] gmail [dot] com

    ReplyDelete
  9. What an interesting family! I especially liked Dangerosa, even her name is so cool

    blodeuedd1 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  10. Eleanor is a hero of mine. A lady before her time. Can't wait to read the book!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'm very interested to read about Eleanor of Aquitaine. I know very little about her.
    mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  12. This book sounds great! I'd love to read it!

    mandyy_n@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  13. Tweet http://twitter.com/#!/mamabunny13/status/77727555486097408
    mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  14. I shared on facebook-mamabunny shelor
    http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/permalink.php?story_fbid=150576395014514&id=100001199655476
    mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  15. mmmmikkimac@aol.comJune 6, 2011 at 9:32 AM

    Sounds like a great book on Eleanor of Aquitaine's younger life before marriage.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I've never read a book about Eleanor of Aquitaine, and I'm getting super curious about her. This book sounds like a good place to start!

    teralynpilgrim at yahoo dot com.

    ReplyDelete
  17. My jaw dropped as I read the synopsis of "Queen Defiant." What an strong and open woman surrounded by other family like her. I do so love history and especially books that detail the early days. As well, I am awed by the amazing amount of research that the author has done in preparation for writing the novel. I look forward to reading this one.
    Connie Fischer
    conniecape@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  18. I would love to read more about her. Thanks for the giveaway!

    Margaret
    singitm@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thank you so much for the giveaway! :)

    Tweet
    http://twitter.com/#!/Misha_1989/status/77742346762063872

    FB
    http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=228696630489826&id=630067989

    mishamary@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  20. Definitely a historical figure worthy of good fiction. I read a biography of her . . . will look forward to reading the novel. Maybe I'll even be lucky and win a copy.
    deborah.batterman@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  21. Victoria ZumbrumJune 6, 2011 at 10:51 AM

    I love reading about history. Please enter me in contest. I would love to read this book. Tore923@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  22. Wow, she definitely seems like a fascinating figure. I don't know very much about Eleanor but what I know, I like.

    abookishaffair(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  23. Sign me up for this one!

    cmdaphne(at)tds(dot)net

    ReplyDelete
  24. This book looks fascinating! I'd love to win it.

    snowflakes2hotcakes {at} gmail {dot} com

    ReplyDelete
  25. I would love to read this!
    thank you

    I shared on:
    facebook
    twitter
    google buzz

    kaiminani at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  26. love Eleanor of Aquitaine! would love a chance to win/read this!

    thanks!

    sensitivemuse at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  27. How can I pass up a chance to read about Eleanor?! Enter me please!

    beth-martin AT live DOT com

    +1 I tweeted:

    http://twitter.com/#!/taekwondobabe/status/77802960226238464

    ReplyDelete
  28. I would LOVE to win this book !
    Lynda716@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  29. Eleanor is one of my favorite people in history. Would like to read this book

    tmrtini at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  30. I would love to read 'A Queen Defiant'. It kind of bouys me up to read about strong women who stand up for what they believe in.

    My Twitter name is Carolee888 and I tweeted:


    http://www.passagestothepast.com/2011/06/guest-post-by-anne-obrien-2-copy.html? Giveaway of 'A Queen Defiant'.

    CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  31. I would love to read this.
    gardnerad@juno.com

    ReplyDelete
  32. Favorite queen of all time! I can't read enough about her!

    Thanks for the chance, Amy!

    talia_09(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  33. I really enjoyed the post on Eleanor's genealogy. Royalty's family trees are so convoluted and connected, it's a maze just trying to figure out all of the connections.

    Thank you for the post and givesway!

    ashley.l.mikowski@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  34. Thank you for including me. =)
    tiredwkids at live dot com

    ReplyDelete
  35. Please enter me in the giveaway. This looks like a great book.

    justpeachy36@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  36. I would love to read this story. Historical fiction is a delight.


    clenna at aol dot com

    ReplyDelete
  37. I have been interested in Eleanor of Aquitaine for many years and I have read several biographies of her.
    I am looking forward to reading this book as I really enjoyed Virgin Widow and wish to see Anne O'Brien's take on Eleanor.
    I would love to win this book as I can't afford to buy it as I'm not currently employed.


    http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1045412162

    celticlady45 at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  38. I am reading everything I can get my hands on about Eleanor! Thanks so much for this giveaway!

    Amy
    tiger_fan_1997 AT yahoo DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  39. Can't wait to read this...thanks. Peta. petakev@optusnet.com.au

    ReplyDelete
  40. Can't wait to read this... Peta. petakev@optusnet.com.au

    ReplyDelete
  41. I'd love to enter! This book sounds like a great historical fiction.

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  42. Here’s my tweet:

    http://twitter.com/aikchien/status/78005800471244800

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  43. I love all things Eleanor of Aquitaine! I can't get enough of her. I REALLY want to read this book. Thanks for this awesome giveaway

    +1 I tweeted via share buttons.

    taylor_ward11@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  44. I just learned that I LOVE Eleanor. What an amazing woman.
    I placed an entry in my sidebar. http://themusingsofabookjunkie.blogspot.com/
    Thanks!
    Allisonmharper@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  45. I'm intrigued by stories of powerful women throughout history. Please enter me in the giveaway.

    chipotlecraving(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  46. I remember reading about "Dangereuse", as she was called in French, in French history class. She was also, like Eleanor, a patroness of the Arts as well as a sexual dynamo. A woman ahead of her time. Please enter me in the giveaway.

    annfesATyahooDOTcom

    ReplyDelete
  47. I tweeted this giveaway (@Softfuzzysweatr)

    ReplyDelete
  48. I facebooked this giveaway as well(Anne Fescharek)

    ReplyDelete
  49. Eleanor of Aquitaine is my all-time favorite historical figure. Can't wait to read about her female relatives!

    Deniseincoralsprings@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  50. Thanks so much for the fascinating post and for the chance to enter this giveaway. It sounds like a truly fascinating book about my favourite historical figure :)

    My email dmsires@activ8.net.au

    ReplyDelete
  51. Rena,

    Queen Eleanor is one of the most fascinating woman of the Middle Ages. She was a powerhouse in her own right and founded a dynasty. We don't seem to know quite as much about her early life and this book seems to focus more on it. I'd love a chance to win. I shared on my facebook wall and am a long time follower.

    rena.mcgrath@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  52. hi, thanks for the chance of a book, just been put onto by a friend and love your first historical book.

    rochelle.willis@paradise.net.nz

    ReplyDelete
  53. Thanks Amy & Anne!!!

    Please enter me in the draw - many thanks.

    mzmelisende at gmail dot com

    And thanks for making this available to those of us not in UK or US.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Thank you for yet another fabulous giveaway. The books you showcase are amazing.

    Jules
    onebookshy at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  55. I'd love to read this! Thanks for the giveaway!
    mittens0831 at aol dot com

    ReplyDelete
  56. tweet
    http://twitter.com/CarolAnnM/status/80016474537865216
    mittens0831 at aol dot com

    ReplyDelete
  57. What a wonderfully informative post. Thank you so much for the history of Eleanor's female ancestors. With those ladies in her lineage, she was destined to be strong and independent. She was a fascinating woman and it will be great finding out more about her.
    You were lucky to get such a lovely cover.

    librarypat AT comcast DOT net

    ReplyDelete
  58. I tweeted this giveaway.
    http://twitter.com/pbbearclaw/status/80101901005369344

    librarypat AT comcast DOT net

    ReplyDelete
  59. I shared this on Facebook.
    http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=217671008253463&id=1505535916

    librarypat AT comcast DOT net

    ReplyDelete
  60. Will always be in awe of historical figures as topics in a fiction book. Eleanor of Aquitaine is one of them and it's great to know more about her. :)

    LaBellaVita(dot)Ivy (at) gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  61. Sounds like a very interesting book. I would really enjoy reading it. Please enter me. Thanks!

    ayancey(at)dishmail(dot)net

    ReplyDelete
  62. Love all books about Eleanor...would love to win this for sure. Thanks Amy
    Fondly, Roberta
    rlphibr13@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  63. Just shared this giveaway on Facebook and Twitter.
    rlphilbr13@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  64. Have added this giveaway to my sidebar.
    rlphilbr13@aol.com
    http://con-tain-it.typepad.com/love_shack_nonsense/

    ReplyDelete
  65. Have read a little about Eleanor of Aquitaine & would love to read this book to learn more.
    Thanks for the giveaway!
    megalon22 at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  66. I love Eleanor! Never enough historical fiction about this fascinating lady.

    lacvc4 @ gmail.com

    Facebook http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home

    Twitter @lacvc4

    Thanks a bunch. Fingers are crossed.

    Lori

    ReplyDelete
  67. Eleanor has been my favorite Queen (alongside Mary, Queen of Scots) since I saw Katherine Hepburn portray her in "The Lion in Winter" when it first came out! Eleanor was a woman who was "born before her time" who had the spirit and the will to hold her own in a man's world...the only problem being that the "man's world" was too ingrained in society at the time Eleanor lived!

    She was tempered in steel and honestly I would have liked for her and Elizabeth I to have met. LOl. I think Eleanor would have taken Elizabeth down a peg or two or three.

    momrobare@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  68. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  69. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete

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