2005-06-14
Carrying Coal to Newcastle...

Our first destination this morning is the Royal Abbey of Nieul-sur-l'Autize.  This monastery was established in 1068, but it received its royal status almost a hundred years later when King Louis VII of France, who was at the same time starting work on Notre Dame de Paris and preparing his armies for the Second Crusade (see the movie "Kingdom of Heaven" for one recent look at crusade number two).  At the time Good King Louis was married to Europe's richest, most beautiful, and most cultivated princess:  Eleanore of Aquitaine.   Many say that Eleanore was born in this village.  That's not certain, but it is certain that her mother cherished this site and that she was buried here.  That's why Good Old Louis (actually Louis le Jeune, to give you the real name of Louis VII), gave the royal stamp to this abbey.  Of course that was before he divorced Eleanore, due to irreconcilable differences:  she liked music, poetry and literature, he liked praying, fasting and fighting.  It was their divorce that would lead her to marry the Count of Anjou, Henry PlantagenÍt.  This young Henry was the grandson of William the Conqueror and would soon be Duke of Normandy and King of England.  See the really great movie "The Lion in Winter" for a look at the last days of Henry II ("the Lion") and Eleanor of Aquitaine and the coming of age of Richard and his brother King John.  Do notice that it is Louis VII's child by his second marriage that gets the upper hand on all of them.  "August" means great, and that's how Philip-Augustus of France got his name: he reduced King John to little more than a ghost on these, his favorite lands.

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This page last updated on 2005-06-14 11:45:12 AM.