Monday, June 14, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Fontevraud Abbey, France

Over the weekend I saw the new “Robin Hood” movie with Russell Crowe. I’m mad about this period of history, and enjoy all sorts of books and movies of the 12th century. This is one of the few Robin Hood movies to portray the English royal family in great detail, since it is actually a prequel to the usual Robin Hood myth. The producers spend the whole movie setting up how Robin becomes an outlaw, with portrayals of the crusades, and the tensions between Prince John and his brother Richard Lion Heart. Eleanor of Aquitaine makes a few appearances, as well as the princess Isabella of Angouleme who is referred to as “a piece of French pastry”.

And so I dug out some photos of our trip to the Loire Valley in France about ten years ago. Eleanor and Henry II are my 29th great grandparents, and the villainous Prince John and Isabella of Angouleme are my 28th great grandparents (… that is if you can believe medieval lineages!) On our trip each family member chose two castles to visit, to make everyone happy and to ensure a variety of experiences. One of my choices was the Abbey at Fontevraud, where Eleanor, Henry, Richard Lion Heart and Isabella are buried. We not only toured the abbey, we had a marvelous dinner and stayed there overnight. It was quite fun wandering around the grounds in the evening when the tourists had all gone home. I hoped to bump into Eleanor’s ghost, but it never happened.

Here are some books I’ve read recently about these historical figures:

Non Fiction:
Richard and John: Kings at War, by Frank McLynn, Da Capo Press, 2007
Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life, by Alison Weir, Ballantine Books, 2001
Eleanor of Aquitaine: Queen of France, Queen of England, by Ralph V. Turner, Yale University Press, 2009

Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott, (any edition will do, but I read the Barnes and Noble, 2005 version with notes by Gillen D’Arcy Wood)
World Without End, by Ken Follett, Dutton, 2007 (same time period, not particularly about Henry and Eleanor)

The Lion in Winter, (See the 1968 version with Peter O’Toole as Henry II and Katharine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine. The 2003 version with Patrick Stewart and Glenn Close isn’t even close!)


Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. Well, looks like we're cousins again . . . my (supposed) link to Eleanor & Henry is via my Georgia-born 2nd great-grandma . . . it was her Texas-born grandson who married the Maine-born beauty who gives us most of our New England ancestors . . . I currently have Eleanor as my 26th & 27th & 28th great-grandma (via two different husband) . . . and Henry as my 26th & 27th great-grandpa (via two different wives) . . . and I LUV Follett's "World Without End" as well as the Hepburn portrayal of Eleanor . . . still need to read Weir's book about Eleanor . . . as well as pick up the one she wrote about Katherine Swynford & John of Gaunt . . . is your "royal connection" one of your New England lines?

  2. All my lines are New England lines! LOL! One lineage goes through Mary Gye and John Maverick, parents of Moses Maverick who married Remember Allerton of the Mayflower. Also descended of Mary Norris who married Isaac Allerton, Remember's father on the Mayflower. Another lineage goes through Abigail Reed who married Francis Wyman, immigrant to Woburn, Massachusetts. Another line is to Richard Ingraham and Elizabeth Wignall, immigrants to Massachusetts, and I'm also descended of Abigail Ingraham and Samuel Chesebrough (brother and sister). Another lineage is through Jane Lawrence and George Giddings, immigrants to Ipswich, Massachusetts (through your John of Gaunt). Also the line to Peter Bulkely and Jane Allen, immigrants to Concord, Massachusetts (the Emerson family). And Elizabeth Marshall and Thomas Lewis immigrants to Maine. And John Perkins and Judith Gater of Ipswich, Massachusetts. Lastly (I think) is Tamosin Ward and Robert Buffum, immigrants to Salem, Massachusetts. No wonder I like Eleanor of Aquitaine so much!

  3. OMG, Heather, we are in love with the same period of history --- altho I am sort of fickled as I pop to one era to be entranced and then another --- but Eleanor and Henry's march across the historical tapestry is glorious.