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The Two Eleanors of Henry III (ePub)

The Lives of Eleanor of Provence and Eleanor de Montfort

Medieval History P&S History Social History Women of History Medieval Royal History

By Darren Baker
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
File Size: 30.4 MB (.epub)
Pages: 248
ISBN: 9781526747525
eBook Released: 18th February 2020

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Eleanor of Provence was born in the province of her name in 1223. She has come to England at the age of twelve to marry the king, Henry III. He’s sixteen years older, but was a boy when he ascended the throne. He’s a kind, sensitive sort whose only personal attachments to women so far have been to his three sisters.

The youngest of them is called Eleanor too. She was only nine when, for political reasons, her first marriage took place, but she’s already a chaste twenty-year old widow when the new queen arrives in 1236. In a short time, this Eleanor will marry the rising star of her brother’s court, a French parvenu named Simon de Montfort, thus wedding the fates of these four people together in an England about to undergo some of the most profound changes in its history.

It’s a tale that covers three decades at its heart, with loyalty to family and principles at stake, in a land where foreigners are subject to intense scrutiny and jealousy. The relationship between these two sisters-in-law, close but ultimately doomed, will reflect not just the turbulence and tragedy of their times, but also the brilliance and splendour.

A fascinating look at the two Eleanors two women interesting. In their own right. Both Eleanors known forever do to their husbands.Really well written informative.

NetGalley, Abby Siverman

This book looks at it from a fascinating perspective of friendship, love and family ties.


Eleanor of Provence is the wife of Henry III, Eleanor de Montfort is his sister and married to one of his good friends. At the beginning the two women also become good friends. It is interesting to see how the relationships develop and change over the years as things happen both on a large political scale but also as both couples have children and suffer losses etc.

Read the full review here

For the Love of Books

An excellent and informative book on the relationship between Henry III and Simon de Montfort, from the perspective of their wives- the titular two Eleanors. Eleanor de Provence, Henry's Queen, and Eleanor de Montfort his sister who married the famous French scion of a Crusading family.

Some have complained that there 'isn't enough' about the two women, but that wasn't an issue with me. Mr Baker has written a history book, not a novel or indeed a dedicated biography. It would be next to impossible to write a biography of either woman without reference to her husband and children anyway. Medieval noblewomen were not islands.

Even as seasoned and slightly jaded historian, I learned from this book. I never knew that Eleanor de Provence briefly served as Regent during one of her husband's absences abroad. I always thought the English were entirely antagonistic to female regency, considering their response to women who tried to claim this position in later centuries. Yet Eleanor was a trailblazer: the first Medieval Queen to gain this title, and she was accepted to boot.

Mr. Baker's writing style is reading and engaging. At times he veers off with the odd modern colloquialism, but its to occasional that it doesn't really jar the reader. In fact, most of these fit.

Well worth a read to learn about the lives and legacies of two remarkable women: both called Eleanor.

NetGalley, Joanna Arman

“The Two Eleanors of Henry III: The Lives of Eleanor of Provence and Eleanor de Montfort” by Darren Baker is an enjoyable introduction into this fascinating, tumultuous time in Medieval English history.

Read the full review here

Adventures of a Tudor Nerd

As featured on History Stuff YouTube

History Stuff, YouTube

Eleanor of Provence and Eleanor of England, wife and sister of Henry III, are the focus of this well-researched and highly evocative account. It's a shame that these two women are not so well known among general readership (because academic historians concentrate on them quite often, studying both Eleanors as fine examples of medieval queenship and power in a noble household).
This is a double biography charting the lives of both Eleanors, showing how their lives intertwined. They were both born into wealth and privilege but were not given opportunities to enjoy their positions. They lived during very tumultuous times and had to act as peacemakers for their menfolk. Their story is gripping and almost unbelievable.
I highly recommend this book for everyone interested in medieval period.

GoodReads, ConstantReader

The Two Eleanors does a fine job of shining an overdue light on two fascinating and powerful - in the true sense of the word - medieval noblewomen.

Read the full review here

Amazon Customer

Henry III is not one of our monarchs that is remembered as well as Henry IV, Henry V or Henry VIII, but Darren Baker uncovers some of his history, and in particular focuses on the women in his life, two of whom bore the Christian name Eleanor. Darren's history of the two Eleanors in Henry's life makes for a compulsive read for anyone interested in the years following the Norman conquest and the journey into Medieval England.

Books Monthly

Baker does a good job of winnowing truth from contemporary chroniclers, who made no bones about their agendas: when men wrote about women, even queens, it was always to instruct, and the lesson was invariably that good queens are submissive, faithful, and fruitful, and bad queens are bad wives and try to encroach on male prerogatives.

Excellent notes provide intriguing nuggets of information for the history detectives among us, along with a very strong bibliography.

NetGalley, Sherwood Smith

The Two Eleanors of Henry III: The Lives of Eleanor of Provence and Eleanor de Montfort firmly places Eleanor of Provence and Eleanor de Montfort within the thirteenth century world in which they lived. Darren Baker brings their stories to life, with his passion for his subjects clearly visible in the elegant narrative. This book is a must for anyone interested in medieval women or in the conflict between Henry III and Simon de Montfort. Placing the focus on the two women who saw their husbands and sons drawn into the Second Barons’ War shines a whole new light on the period.

It is an enjoyable and fascinating read!

Read the full review here

History The Interesting Bits, Sharon Bennett Connolly

The Critical Roles of Two Royal Eleanors in Causing the Second Barons’ War Read the article
here

What Happened After Simon de Montfort Defeated Henry III at the Battle of Lewes? Read here


Author articles for

History Hit, September 2019

Both of these women named Eleanor were interesting in their own right, as well as in their marriages. As the author says, it is difficult to separate the women from their husbands. I think this is especially true during their lifetimes, as not much was written or recorded about women at that time. The two Eleanor’s lives are intertwined over several decades.

NetGalley, Andrea Johnson

I love history and this is a great example - well written and researched - I felt I learned a great deal.

This was accessible to the reader, thanks to the writing style and I was drawn in from the beginning.

A great read.

NetGalley, Maria Martignetti

This book was interesting, as it could hardly help being - the two Eleanors were living, after all, in interesting times.

NetGalley, Tammy Buchli

For better or worse, women were often defined by their roles in life: daughter, wife, mother. And with a lack of sources available or detailed even recorded contemporaneously, it is often how they are then written about. This, however, shouldn't negate towards an author's attempts to introduce an historical figure to a new audience - not just an academic one. Baker's book does this - it brings to the fore two women at one of the most important periods in English history.

What the average reader will find in this is a decent story - it is not pretentious or dry - and not filled with useless information that should be relegated to the appendices. There is a decent chronology and plenty of notes because if you are reading this, you will be wanting to go off and read more. For me, I especially liked the wrap of of Simon's family after his death at Evesham.

NetGalley, Melisende d'Outremer

This is why I enjoy history so. Well written and documented story of Henry III's wife and sister, both Eleanor's, both highly educated and well aware of their rights. Both were drug through the drama of a country struggling to define what their monarchy would look like. Both would be defined by the lengths they would go to get what they wanted, money, power, a dynasty. Both would" live long and prosper" in spite of the side of the conflict they were on.

NetGalley, Donna Pingry

Overall, an interesting read about two women (and their families/associates) that I didn’t previously know about.

NetGalley, Lucy Faulds

An enjoyable and recommendable read to anyone who enjoys learning more about Henry III and the women in his life.

NetGalley, Christine Cazeneuve

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.

NetGalley, Amy McElroy

An excellent and informative book on the relationship between Henry III and Simon de Montfort, from the perspective of their wives- the titular two Eleanors. Eleanor de Provence, Henry's Queen, and Eleanor de Montfort his sister who married the famous French scion of a Crusading family.

Some have complained that there 'isn't enough' about the two women, but that wasn't an issue with me. Mr Baker has written a history book, not a novel or indeed a dedicated biography. It would be next to impossible to write a biography of either woman without reference to her husband and children anyway. Medieval noblewomen were not islands.

Even as seasoned and slightly jaded historian, I learned from this book. I never knew that Eleanor de Provence briefly served as Regent during one of her husband's absences abroad. I always thought the English were entirely antagonistic to female regency, considering their response to women who tried to claim this position in later centuries. Yet Eleanor was a trailblazer: the first Medieval Queen to gain this title, and she was accepted to boot.

Mr. Baker's writing style is reading and engaging. At times he veers off with the odd modern colloquialism, but its to occasional that it doesn't really jar the reader. In fact, most of these fit.

Well worth a read to learn about the lives and legacies of two remarkable women: both called Eleanor.

Grateful thanks to Pen and Sword for sending me a copy of this book. All opinions are entirely my own and I was not required to write a positive review.

Joanna Arman

About Darren Baker

Born in California in 1961, Darren Baker took his degree in modern and classical languages at the University of Connecticut. He lives today with his wife and children in in the Czech Republic, where he writes and translates. His biographies include With All For All: The Life of Simon de Montfort (Amberley, 2015) and Henry III: The Great King England Never Knew It Had (The History Press, 2017).

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