Sunday, January 22, 2012

ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE - The Research books so far

I said last time that I would blog about some of the research books I've  been using to write the first of my 3 novels about Eleanor of Aquitaine.  Some I have found more useful than others.  Finding a decent biography of Eleanor has been difficult as many of Eleanor's biographers tend to wander off into fiction and speculation at the drop of a hat.   I have also used articles from various journals and extensive internet research via JSTOR etc, but these are some of the works consulted on my shelves. I've put recommended against the best in my opinion

 Not in any order but with comments as appropriate 
Standard work but outdated now and some wrong details.

Interesting to see a French take on Louis VII.  Suffers from
not having an index.

Excellent series of essay and insights into Eleanor's world  Recommended

The best biography for Eleanor's early life  - balanced on all sides.
and doesn't make any nasty mistakes.  Recommended

Readable, but a little on the romanticised  fiction side.

Several historical errors and opinions stated as fact
 Read with a massive pinch of salt, but useful as an overview

Another excellent series of essays about Eleanor -
highly recommended

Beautifully, romantically written, but the research is now outdated
in many cases.  Check against newer discoveries.

A romantic overview.  Read with a large pinch of salt
but a decent general book on the subject.  Some errors.

A good overall biography let down by a few glaring  mistakes
Recommended with caveats. e.g. Geoffrey le Bel did not go on
the second crusade and die by drowning!

This one's out there and I put it up for your consideratio
but I haven't used it as such

Read for an overview - outdated

Interesting book, particularly covering the building of St Denis

Very useful for gaining an idea of what was what when
Eleanor arrived here.  

Extremely useful maps for plotting the course of the 2nd
crusade.  Recommended. May be out of print.

Useful again for incidents on the second crusade

This and the below - general useful guidebooks on Eleanor's country.

This is John of Salisbury's Memoirs of the Papal Court
Recommended primary source for the Antioch incident
and information about Eleanor's sister Petronella

Excellent biography of Abbot Suger of St Dennis

Might seem a bit weird to have Stephen's biography
here, but his deeds fit into the jigsaw of Capetian
politics.  Excellent work.  Recommended

Odo of Deuil's The Journey of Louis VII to the East
Primary source document of the 2nd crusade.  Invaluable
Recommended - specialist buy.

Fabulous book on the architecture of Eleanor's homeland -
gives you a real feel for the place.  Recommended - but it's in French

Pretty pictures.  Of limited use for the campaigns of the 2nd
crusade.  Better books out there, but it's okay to augment the others.